Background To Scrabble With My Grandma
This is the story of playing Scrabble with my Grandma. First of all, some background.
In our family, there were games people and there were non-games people, and the twain never did meet. At family holidays and get-togethers, the games people used to get together and play all sorts of games. The non-games people would watch in disgust, and try to find other useful things to do, such as napping, walking, or just general gossiping.
My Grandma was definitely a games person. And she loved to play them with her grandchildren, training would-be games people right under their parents' eyes.
As her first grand-child, I was a willing and compliant tutee. From her, I learned gin rummy, Mastermind, and most importantly, SCRABBLE!
Scrabble Was A Ritual
Playing Scrabble with my Grandma was part of my childhood. Beating my Grandma at Scrabble was a rite of passage: it entitled me to the respect of a mature adult, as capable at stringing words together and conquering the triple word score as she was. Of course, I only beat her a handful of times, but still, it was a accomplishment of which to be proud.
Playing Scrabble with my Grandma has shaped my identity, and has been an integeral part of our relationship. It was a ritual for us: like having a martini, or going for a drive. Instead of grabbing a shaker and a bottle, we gleefully got the Scrabble board, allowing ourselves the indulgence of "just one more game." We would sneak out of bed, when I stayed over, and have a game at two in the morning, secretly hoping my Grandpa would wander out of bed, and ask sleepily, "are you girls playing Scrabble again?
During the game, my Grandma would complain throughout, about her terrible letters and abysmal chances: "what in the world can do you do with three i's? Tell me that." And then, just as I thought I had a chance of beating her, she would rush by me in a flurry of unforeseen points, and come out as victor once again.
We were "gentlemen," so to speak, in our conversation, always praising the other, with a bit of sarcasm: "Nicely played there. Thanks a lot for stealing my place, though!" If I took too long, she would sigh impatiently, never telling me to hurry, but eying me up with a look that warned me I should definitely move it along.
No Regular Scrabble Partner
Playing Scrabble with my Grandma was special for both of us. You see, I had no one to play with, no special partner that adored letter combining on a blue and pink board. And my Grandma: she certainly did not have a regular partner: you see, my Grandpa was as much as a "non-game person" as my Mom, his daughter.
We would sometimes regale with laughter at his attempts at playing Scrabble: he might have tried a couple of times, but he didn't even know the basic rules. He hated any other games she loved, too, so she was destined to no game play, except with the occasional game-playing friend, and of course, her gandchildren!
Two Other Ladies Playing Scrabble
Well, like any thing worthwhile in life, there are always roadblocks and challenges. One of the challenges we faced was trying to stay entertained during a long road trip my Grandma and I took to prepare for a new job I had just been hired for.
Being two games people, we wanted to play some road games to keep us occupied, but after three hours, we got tired of "In Your Store," and decided that a little bit of Scrabble was in order. The only problem was that my Grandma was driving, and needed to keep her eyes on the road, for safety reasons. What we did to overcome that challenge was that I informed my Grandma of her letters, and what and where I had played on the board. She was then able to formulate a word, and tell me where to put it, sneaking a glance now and then to the board, while I watched the road, and kept my hand close to the wheel. It worked! And now we can say that we are such Scrabble fanatics that we even play it while driving!
Loss of Sight
The other challenge we have faced during our Scrabble playing careers, is the issue of my Grandma losing her sight. For the last few years, her sight has deteriorated with cataracts and macular degeneration. This has been a tremendous loss for her, gradually taking away her freedom to drive, to sew, and perhaps most significantly, to play Scrabble.
Playing with my Grandma as she lost her sight was difficult but not impossible. We had to make sure she had excellent lighting, and we could only play one game instead of three, but we managed. She also used a magnifying glass to look at the board, and even asked about a letter or two. We still managed to do it. A good Scrabble game is definitely worth whatever sacrifices you have to make.
Picture of My Grandma
My Scrabble Partner
In conclusion, I am blessed to have played Scrabble with my Grandma all of these years. As her youngest grandchild, I was the one that made her a Grandma at the age of forty, and we have a unique bond. My Grandma is many things: a wife, a mother, a grandmother ... a cook, a seamstress, an athlete, and an artist. But to me, most of all, she is my Scrabble partner, fellow lover of words, and play, and challenges. May we both have a few more triple word scores and seven-letter plays before we leave this earth!