Tuesday, February 28, 2012


My father was an avid crossword puzzler. Every morning he'd sit at the breakfast table, sip on lukewarm coffee, and fill in little squares with words he'd pull from some ancient dictionary in his brain. There was a time when he complained of being lonely so I'd sit at the table with him. I'd read or write and he'd puzzle. On occasion he'd ask me for the name of a movie star or song title. Mostly I didn't have any idea.

I can't say why or when it happened, but one day I picked the newspaper puzzle to work on. Dueling crosswords, only there wasn't much of a fight! On the days we went to a doctor's appointment or someplace where there would be a long wait, I always took a book to read and a stack of word puzzles.

Dad's handwriting got pretty hard to read the last few years. But that didn't stop him. He told me he didn't like it when I worked on one of his unfinished puzzles because my "e's" weren't legible. (For those who may not have read this yet, I just changed the word "eligible" to legible which is actually the word I meant to use. Damn spellcheck! But it goes to show why I'm not so good a word games.) So I sat in my chair with my puzzle and he'd sit in his. There was seldom any conversation except for asking definitions. My dad really did know a lot of words.

For years his daughters bought him puzzle books for Christmas. The New York Times Sunday puzzles, or the LA Times, or the Washington Post. The last one he used was a Simon & Schuster's Mega Crossword Puzzle Book #3. It had over 300 puzzles in it. I had it with me while waiting at Hospice. I've taken it with me when Sweetie and I traveled. And I've gotten in a routine of sitting at night with some kind of true life detective show on the TV for background noise as I attempt to do in 4 or 5 days what Dad did in one. Last night I finished the last puzzle in the book. Well, actually I didn't finish it. There were definitions I couldn't pronounce, let alone name. I guess in a way of speaking I cut another string that attached me to my father.

Tonight I pulled out another book from his stash that I haven't given away. It has extra large puzzles with really big squares. Big doesn't necessarily equate with any easier. I think Dad liked the books he could tear the pages out as he went along best. I think I have to agree with him on that one. It's puzzling, don't you think, how a year ago I seemed to be focused on our differences. Now I remember fondly our similarities.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
Merry ME


Cinderella said...

New awareness comes with time. Sometimes I think the more we realize we have in common with others on an essential level, the easier life gets. It doesn't mean we necessarily want to spend time with someone - we just understand their souls a little more.

Hugs to you, dear Merry:)

Fire Byrd said...

It's good to know what you have, the age of rebellion is over, the age of acceptance starts.
I love those ties to me parents, my tidy gene, my loyalty gene, my compassion gene, all my parents and now mine.