It turns out I wanted to play just one more game of Scrabble, if my tears that seemingly came out of nowhere on the 400 northbound the other day are any indication. Apologies to the driver of the Honda mini-van if I swerved a little too close to your lane.  Turns out cheap mascara in the eye is a bit dangerous while driving.

Mom and I had more Scrabble games than Lake Muskoka has fish. Long ago she could be heard muttering subtle profanities, softly under her breath, so the grandkids and then later the great-grandkids, could not really hear their grandmother dropping a few choice expletives. If we were playing on the dock and it was anywhere near happy hour the competition would intensify, especially if there had been a vodka and orange juice, or two, with the tiniest splash of vanilla poured in, consumed. Mom was the champion of two and three letter joiner words, ones you have never heard before, but when a yell of “You’re cheating!! That’s not a word”, mom looked at you with this expression that said, “Oh ya? Check it out” and passed the official Scrabble dictionary, and there it would be sanctioned in all its’ glory in the damn book. She was never wrong. Qadi, Qaid, Qat, Qi, Qoph, words starting with Q, the letter worth 10 points, but not requiring a U, were some of her favourites. She would slip that word in, join it to an existing word in more than one place, and more often than not strategically placing the Q on a triple letter score and bingo 70 points.  The very best words were when mom did all of the above and then managed to use all her letters getting an additional 50 points for her efforts. One year at Christmas I got a trophy made for her, because she had her highest score in one game, I think it was a whopping 463 points, but my memory is not what it once was. I hope I am not getting the dreaded cognitive decline mom so despised.

Solitaire Scrabble is just not the same

A Scrabble game was the best way to connect, yet not have to talk if you didn’t feel up to it, or if we wanted to, we would take long pauses between turns to discuss the latest shenanigans going on in the clan. In the last years of mom’s life, as the dementia was slowly taking a greater hold on her fine neuropathways, she would grab onto an offer to play a game like a religious person grabs a bible for some comfort, calm and distance, from the inevitable descent into the abyss that is dementia. Her Scrabble scores would become lower and lower as the complex computer that is the brain found it increasingly more difficult to retrieve the words to put down on the board.  When words and conversation became harder, we still had that board between us to connect and bond.  When I would pack up my mom and take her for a sleep over somewhere, I packed the Scrabble board much like I would pack my kids stuffies in the diaper bag, when going on trips, soothing transitional objects to make the change less stressful.

Dad started playing with her a number of years before his death. He could never play like she could, no one could, but after a time he actually got pretty good. It apparently helped to while away the hours of boredom that come when you’ve been married 65 years and there is nothing left to argue about.  In regards to the length of time they were married my mom used to say most life sentences are shorter than that and other unfortunates get theirs’ commuted for good behaviour. Poor mom. Poor dad.

I have been thinking a lot about my mom as Mother’s Day approaches. It is my first without her, and its’ really hard. Grief sucks, and if the truth be known I avoid it as much as I can. I’m currently planning her funeral and mom’s only live sibling has graciously given me permission to inter mom, dad and my sister Jan into the family plot. In the transfer of ownership, the funeral home told me I had to put other names on the deed so that when I die the plot goes to my children.   They said our kids would be the right choice as kids are supposed to outlive parents and they can decide what to do when the time comes.  I was joking with the funeral director, since I have him on speed dial due to the fact that in the last few years, we seem to speak more regularly than I do with my best friends. He said that the arrangements were coming along for the plot transfer to be legal in time for the funeral. I told him that since my kids are now on the transfer deed, they will be quite ecstatic, since getting into the crazy housing market is unaffordable and they will never be able to buy a house but now, voila, they have some land!  Perhaps they could erect a tent…..

Humour and grief. The only way to get through.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

Categories: Grieving

17 Comments

Ann · 8 May 2022 at 3 h 28 min

My dear sweet friend. You have supported me through all these years of hating Mother’s Day because I miss my mom so very much, I selfishly forgot it was your first Mother’s Day without your own beloved mom. Please forgive me for still wallowing in my own grief to the point of not acknowledging yours. I totally dropped the ball this time. Please know we are now in the club together and I promise to be a better sister in supporting you on this day in the future. Thank goodness we are both blessed with wonderful sons who love us and make Mother’s Day a little easier. 💜🌻

    Huzur Altay · 8 May 2022 at 9 h 37 min

    Gaye

    As I get through my second Mother’s Day without my mum your words are comforting as always. I remember having a few drinks with your mom on the dock and how she made me laugh… just like her daughter. Happy Mother’s Day my friend. I miss you.

      Gaye · 10 May 2022 at 9 h 50 min

      Hello Huzur,

      I remember that time so long ago! What a blast we had. She would have been drinking her vodka and orange juice with a splash of vanilla. I am glad I make you laugh. xoxox

    Gaye Gould · 10 May 2022 at 10 h 31 min

    Hello Ann,
    Don’t you ever apologize for anything! Selfish is not a word that remotely describes one bone in your body.
    Grief takes as long as it takes. It is in a way a wonderful tribute to someone who meant as much to you as your dear mom. Our tears are like a portal into the next realm where I picture my mom, and your mom and everyone I know who has lost their moms, drinking tea in those fine bone tea cups of which I have about 400! and playing Scrabble or Bridge.
    xo

Rose Hawkins Foster · 8 May 2022 at 9 h 56 min

My condolences again. Yes the first Mother’s Day without her is very hard! I hope you find comfort in the memories you have created. She sounded like a lovely woman with a great sense of enjoying life to the fullest.

    Gaye Gould · 10 May 2022 at 10 h 28 min

    Thank you so much Rose! The book is done, honest!! I know you were so supportive of me writing the book and I can hardly wait to hand you a copy.
    xo

Diane Hamilton · 8 May 2022 at 15 h 00 min

You are such a gifted storyteller and how generous of you to share your most personal of life’s journeys. That being a bond with one’s mother. Nothing else compares to it. Thinking of you today. You are one AMAZING mother and daughter.

    Gaye Gould · 10 May 2022 at 10 h 27 min

    Hi Diane,
    Thank you for your comments. I love telling stories. I think I was a storyteller in a past life, sitting around the fire and weaving the past into the present moment.
    xo

Sonia · 8 May 2022 at 18 h 26 min

Gaye, I’m sorry for your loss and I am afraid that Mother’s Day does not make it easier. Please accept my sincerest sympathy.
I am glad to know that you had the chance to play Scrabble with your mom just like I played Rummy and cards with my own mom. Like you, today I am no longer playing… Instead, I am busy writing a eulogy that will be a nice farewell to the person who gave me life, values and hope. Funerals bring closure but I am not sure to be ready to move on, are you?

    Kim Hatfield · 9 May 2022 at 20 h 43 min

    The year of firsts. It really is difficult and although I continue to miss my mom and still shed tears on Mother’s Day, her birthday and at Christmas, almost seven years later; investing in the better mascara was one of the best decisions I made. Sending you the biggest hug, Gaye.

      Gaye Gould · 10 May 2022 at 10 h 21 min

      Hi Kim,
      You always make me laugh. I will immediately go to Shopper’s and purchase an upgraded brand!
      xo

    Gaye Gould · 10 May 2022 at 10 h 24 min

    Hello Sonia,
    I know this is very very close to your heart right now given the recent loss of your dear mom. I think I am getting ready to move on. It was such a long slow decline of ten years duration and although I lost her bit by bit as her beautiful mind faded I had a lot of time with her. She would never have wanted to linger like she did and lose both her mental and physical capability, so I know it was best that she left.
    xo

    Gaye Gould · 10 May 2022 at 10 h 26 min

    Hi Sonia,
    I commented to this but it ended up down a ways. I need a tutorial from you on how to post comments!!! Technology and me – bad mix.

Jorge · 9 May 2022 at 8 h 58 min

Sending you big hugs, Gaye. I feel your pain more than you know.

Angie Kingma · 9 May 2022 at 13 h 45 min

Dearest Gaye – I will never tire of reading your blogs, your book or any other of your creative writing outlets. Like Diane said, your storytelling abilities are marvelous, perhaps the best I’ve ever heard. Thank you for sharing the stories about your Mom’s exceptional Scrabble talents with us, especially for Q words not needing a u (I learned something new today) 🙂 It was also very poignant to hear how the beloved Scrabble board became like a transitional object that provided comfort to her when you’d pack up her things for an overnight trip. My heart goes out to you for your first Mother’s Day without your dear Mom. What a funny twist on your boys now having their own ‘land’. Hope to see you soon.

    Gaye Gould · 10 May 2022 at 10 h 26 min

    Hello dear friend!
    I miss you and I miss doing our wonderful mindfulness groups together. I am glad that the blog helped you know some new Q words to wow the next players that come for a game. Thank you for your wonderful comments about my story telling. I think that is truly what I want to be known as. Put that on my tombstone – a storyteller. Love that!
    xo

Wendy Toth · 10 May 2022 at 15 h 50 min

Thank you Gaye so much for making me smile today. I actually remembered it was your first Mother’s Day without your incredible Mom. She sounded just amazing ! I really wish I had known her. What a big whole has been left. You and your family will gather and will play scrabble again and laugh hard when little grandma isms are recalled. Wonderful to share this board game with your beautiful family . Hard days I am sure Gaye, but she is with you… hugs on hugs

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