Monday was mainly a day off for me so I used the free time as an opportunity to go see my 85-year-old mother in Milwaukie, and of course the visit included her favorite game, Scrabble.
She takes it fairly seriously and has always been quite good at it, and she enhances her skill by keeping handy both an official Scrabble dictionary and a list of two-letter words; it’s sort of cheating, but I’ve grown to look the other way.
Mom led most of the game before she got greedy on her final turn. With three letters left in her rack, she stuck an A and an O onto a Z to make a word I had never heard of, “zoa.” My mom described it as “some kind of biology term” — she isn’t necessarily concerned about knowing definitions — but was sure it was a word from earlier forays into the dictionary.
That broke a tie and built her a 12-point lead but also gave me a place to play my final two letters, a V and an I, to make the word “via” on a double-word-score square. I scored 12 with via, and of course was the winner because I had gotten rid of all my letters while she still had one left.
She took the loss all right, mainly anyway. Hey, it wouldn’t mean anything if I let her win.
Earlier in the game, I apologized for taking so long to make a word when it was my turn.
“That’s OK, I’ve got plenty of time,” she said, but then added. “Of course I am 85, so I probably don’t have too much time left.”
Eighty-five or 45, of course, you never know how much time you’ll have left, so it’s wise to make every day count, including by counting your blessings.
To that end:
Before heading to my mom’s, I stopped by the office to find the following email from a friend. Read on, and early happy Thanksgiving to all of you out there in blog land:
Hi Steve. My daughter Paris wrote this and I thought it both beautiful and timely since it’s near Thanksgiving. So if you think it’s appropriate, she’s given her permission to have it published in the DH. Let me know. She doesn’t want her last name used, just her first. She’ll be 17 on Wednesday.
“The definition of the word precious is of high price or great value; very valuable or costly. Some, perhaps most, would say that life is precious. We’re given an allotted amount of time to walk this earth, do whatever we want on it, and then leave. I struggle with understanding why so many people waste it. They waste it on jobs they don’t like, insulting people they don’t like, complaining about things they don’t like, and then continue that cycle day after day.
A year and four months ago my earth was shattered and to this day I am still trying to piece it back together. I experienced the tragedy of losing a loved one to cancer. In the months following I began to look upon my life, and see it for what it truly was; a gift. It feels strange to be where I am today and know what I have witnessed and lived through. I have seen violence and felt the pangs of poverty. I remember in the mornings at my father’s house, my older sister and I would look for anything to eat besides the toast and milk we had been eating, for what felt, like centuries. I remember looking forward to Sundays, because that was when dad cooked the best meal we would have all week; grilled cheese sandwiches with chili.
At the time it was so inconvenient and embarrassing, I so longed to be anywhere else, but there. I would find snails and spiders in my bed because the windows in our bedroom didn’t close all the way, and my sister and I would sleep in our clothes and heavy jackets to keep warm at night. I could write a small book about how terrible it was, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It taught me the value of the conveniences I have today; it also taught me the worth of love and family. Even when my father would violently lash out, and I felt the fear of that, it didn’t last long. In the less than desirable conditions we had each other and happy moments I will never forget.
So I can’t help, but laugh, when I hear people complaining about ridiculous things, even myself. I can’t understand why anyone would waste even a single breath with negative words, regrets, or complaints. Feeling the anguish of death has caused me to reflect on the extraordinary life I have lead thus far, and I say it is extraordinary because I have lead it; and that is enough. I believe life is precious and must be savored, because sometimes the things we attribute to our deterioration are truly the things that save us”. ~ Paris, 17 years old. November 2011.
Thanks Steve and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!