This past Tuesday I went to visit my parents who live about an hour away. Dad’s 80 and Mom’s going to be 78 this August. Now that I’ve managed to slog my way through to THE END of my latest project, I felt I could spend the day away from staring at this little screen, away from trying to formulate words that fit just right.
Ha. Not so fast.
After getting there and spending about an hour talking about the latest going on with family – including my aunt, who “sort of” pulled out in front of a driver, who in turn was going way too fast, thus causing a crash that resulted in my uncle’s truck being totaled, and my cousin having to have brain surgery, we then moved on to other topics. Like my mother recounting her escapades in the yard and trying to keep every pine cone, maple tree pod (or whatever those spiky balls are called), from “littering” her grass. I listened, nodded, and offered the appropriate, “hm’s,” and “really?” and “wow’s,” while secretly thinking, now I know where I get a little of my OCD tendencies.
Then, out of the blue, I said, “Wanna play Scrabble?”
You’d have thought I kicked her.
She jumped up out of her chair and said, “Yes!”
I’ve not seen my mother move so fast in a decade. She went into my brother’s old bedroom and emerged with a Scrabble board in a matter of seconds. For the next hour and a half what did I do? I tried to find the best word to make the most points. Not unlike the WIP.
Who knew my mother was such a competitive Scrabble player? She hunched over that board like one of those blue herons I saw on the Black Creek the other day, poised to strike at any little fish that might happen by. She strategized over every single possible angle she could take, eyeballing the available vowels and consonants on the board while she patiently plugged and played with her little wooden squares of letters. And in some ways, I thought this is how writing is and should be. The concerted, thoughtful effort over each and every word. I didn’t expect to come to have this revelation, but there it was.
While realizing that, she won. We played another. She won that one too.
No, I didn’t try and use what looks like an “M” for a “W” in the photo above. I wouldn’t stoop that low to beat my own mother.
She and I have always lived in a world of words. I get my love of reading from her. And likewise, my daughter from me – that is – if it’s even a genetic thing. I think it could be. On top of playing Scrabble, I also brought her my book, all printed out, even thought it’s a first draft and not really done. I know she’ll read it and she won’t have anything but good things to say, like “Oh! It’s the best book ever!” Or, “I couldn’t put it down!” She’ll say that because she’s my mom, and she knows that’s what I would want to hear – even though I know better. Even though I know it’s still got a ways to go from being “the best book ever!” But, I want her to read it because I want her to feel like she’s part of what I’m doing.
Next time, I won’t even have to ask her. She’ll have the Scrabble board out and ready. And that’s okay by me, because, as a writer, I’m never going to be too far away from what I love – crafting words, one at a time, while maybe learning about the value of patience and applying it as I write.
It was an unexpected little reminder, but, it was a good one, don’t you think?