It’s not just a game

Scrabble boxtop Mrs. V was a single mom raising 3 kids. Or 4, I can’t quite remember.

What I do remember is that Mrs. V’s body was diseased. She had multiple sclerosis. I had never known anyone with MS. But the more I watched Mrs. V, the more I learned it wasn’t good.

I think her family went to our church some. Or at least maybe someone picked up the kids now and again? That’s fuzzy to me.

Much clearer are the times I stepped into Mrs. V’s house. I occasionally went with my mom, who went almost weekly, along with Mrs. Y and Mrs. D (I think?) to talk and clean and . . .

. . . play Scrabble.

I remember watching these ladies gather around a Scrabble board to laugh and play with Mrs. V. Maybe I played sometimes, too. I don’t remember.

As years progressed, Mrs. V’s disease progressed, too. She went from moving her own tiles from rack to board to having to accept help. She’d tell my mom or one of the other ladies which word she wanted to make and they’d place it on the board for her. 

How can this work, I wondered? How can they still play this game? Why is this even fun to them? 

Because it wasn’t just a game.
It was relationship.
It was love.

Mrs. V’s MS worsened until she could no longer even say the letters. She would just motion, and her friends would figure it out.

And they continued gathering around the Scrabble board, using triple-letter spaces and Q’s and Z’s (10 points each!) in ways I had never heard of.

Until one day Mrs. V died. And my mom quit going to her house.

And we pulled out the Scrabble board at my mom’s own house. And when the grandkids came along, she taught them to play Scrabble, too. Nana and ScrabbleThey were amazed at their Nana. She had one of those fancy boards with recessed spaces so the letters wouldn’t move around. She’d set it on a lazy Susan so everyone could have an optimal view to imagine optimal word choices.

How did she know such legitimate words as “xi” or “qi(no U required with a Q? Crazy!)? How could she squeeze in a little 2 letter word to make a parallel play, scoring more points then would in 4 plays? 

Even after dementia set in, the Scrabble games continued for awhile. And even then, Nana would score big. For awhile. 

But not too long ago, Nana finally quit playing Scrabble.

Last spring, my niece Danielle asked for one thing out of Nana’s house.
Her Scrabble board.

Because it wasn’t just a game.
It was relationship.
It was love.

We’ll never forget that.

Anybody up for a game of Scrabble?we love you Nana

* * *
What little thing have you transformed into an important thing?

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15 comments:

Beth said...

sweet memories... I love scrabble and I think I will dig out my board like your mom's! Blessings...

Adoption Mama said...

What a wonderful story and memories...as you know, my mom has passed on to see the Lord and those special memories are so important. My mom loved scrabble as well. I am sitting here looking at her scrabble game she gave us...the same deluxe edition:)

Elisabeth Black said...

This made me cry. What a wonderful memory. I play Scrabble with my teenage boys. Mostly I win, but sometimes, I give them a fighting chance! It all works out because one of my sons kills me at Risk EVERY SINGLE TIME. I hope some day they remember this.

Barbara H. said...

That was sweet, Lisa. We occasionally bring my mother-in-law over for pizza and Scrabble (though not at the same time!), two of her favorite things. It's a very slow game, and she fusses with us over xi and qi, but she enjoys it, and I hope the kids will have good memories of it.

emily wierenga said...

oh friend, this is beautiful... i hope you'll link this with me tomorrow at imperfect prose. i'm so glad to have 'met' you. xo

Karen said...

Lisa, I've tried to compose a coherent response to explain all the emotions this post evoked; I am just not able. Maybe one of these days when we are together face-to-face, I can explain it. Just know that this hit deeply.

Donna said...

Profound and poignant...relationship matters - a lot.
Praying God comforting, gentle living prayers for you and your family.

Rie said...

Lisa, I wonder how long she will consume all your waking thoughts?

Bittersweet, death is, isn't it?

Praying God's comfort still on you.

Kim Hyland said...

What a beautiful, powerful story! Such a great reminder that giving time is giving life. Thank you.

Graceful said...

Lisa,
I am so very, very sorry to hear about the loss of your mom. I hadn't known, till now. I hope you are finding some comfort in these precious memories of her.

I was never very good at Scrabble, and that sort of left me feeling lame, since I'd been an English major and all.

I am feeling your pain of loss, as we walk through the last days with my mother-in-law. I have my eyes on God, but my heart breaks.

Blessings to you -- and thank you for this wonderful memory.

Brian Miller said...

what a beautiful memory...we used to gather to play games at night too...back when tv had 3 channels and nothing was on...and we still do this with friends pretty regularly because it is not just the game...but love...smiles.

Wandering On Purpose said...

This post put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. The beauty of true relationship, true love.

Debbie said...

My eyes are filled with tears ready to spill over after listening to your post. Yes, listening. I have MS and it has taken most of my vision so I listen to everything on my computer. I can clearly picture in my mind, though, those women helping that other woman with her chores but most of all spending time with her--loving on her--through a came of Scrabble. Yes, that is more than just a game!

It makes me think of the way my girls and many friends go out of their way to include me in activities that require vision. I cannot play Scrabble (or many other games) but I can listen and enjoy the laughter...and sometimes help come up with a word when given letter choices. The way they included me...well...that is love.

emily wierenga said...

i'm so glad you linked, dear lisa... i hope to see you again soon. xo

Kati patrianoceu said...

Hey, this is like a real-life Joy Luck Club! There's something beautiful in that bond of friends united with a game like Scrabble - thanks for the picture!

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