“Teach me to play Scrabble,” I asked my 86-year old mother.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know how. It’s just that the last time I played, it was the Junior version with our kids. Two decades ago, at least. I figured if I’m going to fancy myself a writer, I should become better at word games. Maybe increase my vocabulary. And Mom’s an expert.
I was surprised when she seemed reluctant. It had been a while since she dusted off the game board, and she wasn’t sure she remembered how. Besides, she was fighting a headache.
But I persisted. I’m nasty like that. And Mom proceeded to skunk me, laughing a little more maniacally with every triple-score word she laid down.
On the second round, we stayed neck and neck until I finally moved ahead at the end. It’s entirely possible Mom was taking pity on me. At least three times, I started laying tiles in the wrong order and Mom would catch it before I did. Do you realize how quickly one’s brain must shift from right side to left when you’re trying to create words and then immediately tally points? It’s exhausting! That’s why I let Mom handle the score-keeping.
By the end of the evening, our laughter had provided a healthy, temporary escape from the aches and pains. “Let’s do this again,” we said almost in unison as we hugged goodbye. And we have. I hope there will be many more Scrabble nights in our future.
When it comes to mothers, it’s no secret that I hit the jackpot. Most of my peers have either lost their mothers or must devote great chunks of energy to caring for them as physical and mental health issues become all consuming. Doctor’s trips, medications, reminders, and special apparatuses like walkers, hearing aids, and oxygen tanks creep in and take over one’s freedom.
Mom is also aware of how blessed she is, unencumbered by such devices. Still, she feels better knowing someone expects her to check in each day. Several weeks ago, we came up with a system where, upon rising each morning, Mom calls and leaves a voice message (we’ve normally left the house by then). When I return home at one o’clock, I listen to it and know she’s okay.
After the first week, I said, “Mom, your messages are getting monotonous. Maybe you could spice it up a bit by leaving us a good quote or a joke or a Bible verse or something.” Since then, we’ve been treated to a “power thought for the day” and I’ve come to look forward to what these thoughts will be and how they might apply to my day. I delete the message immediately to ensure we never mistake an old message for a current one and think everything is okay when it’s not. Each day, as I delete that message, the thought occurs to me that one day I will delete Mom’s final “power thought for the day” and I won’t know I’m doing it.
Each day is a gift. I imagine no one knows that better than the mothers and fathers in Humboldt and the surrounding area. While the rest of us have moved on, they are just now beginning to comprehend the depth of their losses.
This Mother’s Day, wherever you find yourself on the Mother/Child/Grandchild spectrum, I hope you take time to treasure what is yours for today. Because “love” is always a triple-score word.