Scrabble Grandma

My grandma, Mom’s mom, has started her journey Home. Grandma is 95 years old. She was ill in April but beat two rounds of lung infections and then a bout with an intestinal virus. Today, her body is tired. My cousin calls Grandma “Apple Grandma” because they often made apple pies together. I remember making pies with Grandma too. But, to me, she is “Scrabble Grandma.” After Sunday dinners is when the Scrabble board would come out. With a dictionary.

The shadow of time smoothens over the Sundays as they progressed through the years from her Scrabble tile rack shared with me; to my Scrabble rack shared with her; to our individual Scrabble tile racks with a bit of help at the end of the game; to pretty fierce competitors each manning our own tile racks right to the end of the game.

Through my year of breast cancer, I savored the moment when Grandma and I could sit across the table and play Scrabble again. But by the time I traveled back to Iowa after all of that, Grandma’s Scrabble days were done. Since then I have looked at Scrabble boxes with selfish anger.

Until spring break when the boys and I went back to Iowa for a belated Easter celebration. With the dinner dishes done and adults wandering around at loose ends, I found Mom’s Scrabble box, dusted it off, and rallied together four players: my sister-in-law, my sister, my mom, and me. When those letter tiles jiggled in the bag, they drew my three nieces to the table: 6-, 5-, and 2-year-olds.

Our game in April was not about the biggest word or the most points. It was about a 2-year-old counting and pulling tiles; a 5-year-old dumping the rack as she rearranged tiles; and a 6-year-old reading the word aloud that was to be played the next round. And I realized what incredible patience Grandma drew from a very deep well as her grandkids’ small fingers rummaged through her Scrabble rack throughout the last 40 years.

Grandma’s 10 fingers weren’t present at the table in April, but 70 fingers from three generations were carrying on that Sunday afternoon tradition.

Triple Word Score for 48 points, Grandma. “Heaven,” with the “H” on a Double Letter Score. May the Scrabble board be waiting.

(Grandma passed away four hours after I wrote this.  We went to Grandma's Funeral -- a whole other story that will make you smile.)