The Family That Scrabbles Together…

Family

I had one of those snapshot-style, great moment-in-time experiences last night with our 14-year old and my 83-year old grandparents. Our teenager had convinced the three of us to play a board game, Scrabble, with her and we were gathered around the table for the big event.

Scrabble was the idea of an architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, and was trademarked in 1948.  Today, one hundred million sets have been sold worldwide (between one and two million are sold each year in North America alone); it is estimated that one in every three American homes owns the game in some form; and there are more than 120,000 words “that may be used in their scoring arsenal.”

The funny thing about it, however, is that my grandparents, in all their 83 years, had never, ever played it! This was to be their very first run at such a venerable old game of wordplay…and boy was I lucky to be there for it. It was beyond hilarious. Here are just a few things that were said during the game:

– (said my grandfather to no one in particular) This game will eat your lunch.

– (said my grandmother to my grandfather) Do you want to do that one? (said my grandfather to my grandmother) Yes ma’am!

– (said by my grandfather about my grandmother) She took so long I can’t remember the great word I was going to play!

– (said to my grandmother and teenager) If you’d let me choose 7 letters, I could whip this game.

– (said to all of us, several times) Whose turn is it?

– (said to my grandmother, several times) You are taking entirely too long.

– (said to no one in particular) Wish I could win.

– (said to himself) Let’s make the rules up as we go.

– (said to all of us, just once) I threw the blank ones back because I thought they were duds.

– (said to me nearly every time) Is it my turn already?

– (said to my teenager several times about the letter m) You can’t see it, but that’s a w!

Tears of laughter reigned through most of the game, which lasted just about an hour.  The memory, however?  That will last much longer.  Therefore, thank you Scrabble.

Veterans as Grandfathers

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”  – G. Nelson

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Ber and CB Day before he left for Army September 28 1942015                     1950

I have two grandfathers who are veterans. Two men. Two husbands and fathers and sons and friends.  L.J., age 82, and C.B., who died more than 40 years ago.

My grandfather, L.J. (we call him Joe), stood at the end of our pew at church yesterday morning and I took the moment in. My wife and I and our children have sat beside my grandparents in this church pew nearly every weekend for the past 23 years.  My grandfather stood because it was our church’s annual opportunity to recognize and thank military veterans like him for their service and sacrifice on our behalf – as Americans, as a community, as a family, and as a free people.

He is a little slower to rise than last year. His hands grasp the back of the pew in front of him and he stands and steadies himself.  Knowing him, he is a bit uncomfortable…not because of age or worn out knees, but because of honor. He and the friends of his generation who stand near him here do not like to draw attention to themselves, especially for their service to the country. He did what was asked of him.  “What more do you need to know?” he says.

My grandfather C.B. would have been 90 this year.  Though I never knew him, I can imagine him standing there at the end of the pew as well.  He is tall and bespectacled with a wide smile.  His hands grip the pew in front of him and he steadies himself…

These are my grandfathers, the patriarchs of our family, the kings of this tribe, the authors of this family’s story.  Though one is here and the other is no longer here…they are here.  Their dreams and their sacrifices and their labors and their legacy are with us still.  They served.  What more do you need to know?