Scrabble: Staying in the Game

This post is part of our Caregiving series.

My 98-year-old mother can’t remember what she had for lunch, but she knows the rules of Scrabble, comes up with obscure words that only avid crossword puzzlers know, and grabs those triple word scores with glee. Sometimes, she struggles to make a play, when the tiles in her rack don’t include a consonant, but anybody would.

Braille Scrabble board

Last night, at one point during our game, the only play she could think of was to put an ‘E’ at the end of the word “rang,” to make it “range.” That was okay, but certainly not equal to the skill I know she still has. “Can’t you make an additional word with an ‘E’ in it?,” I suggested. For you non-Scrabble players, that means she would get the points for “range” plus the points for the additional word. She knew that as well as I did, but for a minute, she forgot about that rule. Once I made the suggestion, she kicked her mind into high gear and came up with the word “her,” which scored her several more points. Now, the mother I know was back in the game.

Sometimes It Takes a Nudge

Sometimes, our skill, or knowledge, our memory, or our courage is present, but not quite at the forefront where it belongs. Sometimes, it needs a little nudge. Sometimes, we have the ability to perform some task, but because of self-doubt or discouragement, we are resigned to make an inferior play. It only took my gentle encouragement to try a little harder with a hint of a suggestion for my mother to make a higher score.

I often doubt my own ability to achieve what I really want, and in doing so, I cheat myself out of a greater accomplishment. Sometimes, I wish I had someone on the sidelines saying, “Can’t you do something better with that ‘E’?”