Wednesday, April 12, 2006

when life was easy

Tera was cleaning her room not long ago and came downstairs with a bag full of recycling stuff. I almost had her take the bag out and distribute it herself, but at the last minute, I took a peek. And there, tucked behind an empty juice can and a rumpled piece of cardboard, I found my treasures: 21 Kismet score sheets.

Kismet is a step up from Yahtzee, in case you don't know. The dice in Kismet are colored, which adds a whole other dimension to the game. And these 21 score sheets represent an untallied, but high number of hours of my childhood spent trying to out-throw my grandmother, and others.

Tera didn't know. To her, it was just a pile of paper that needed to go. But to me, it was a link to an easier time.

I carried them to the couch much the way you would carry a Faberge egg, or a tripped grenade, or anything else you didn't much care to drop. With the pile and my tea, I set to remembering.

The first name I saw, written on the top right side of the first sheet, was Mickey. And there she was again, sitting at her kitchen table rolling the dice, and giggling with ungrandmotherly delight at all the sixes that have settled between us.

"Another Kismet, Grandma?" I imagine myself saying. "How many do you need?"

The brought-to-life woman gives me a steady look. "I believe I have two more in me."

I scoff and she laughs again.

Looking down at the sheet in my hands, I see her beautiful 2s, with the curl at the top of each, and her precise 7s--the slant of which I could never get right, despite all my practice. I remember days when "Old Arthur," as she called her rheumatoid arthritis, got the better of her hands, and she'd have to grip the pen between tight, grimaced fingers. Even then, her numbers looked elegant and queenly.

Her name is on the top right of several sheets--Max on a day she felt feisty, Maxine H. on another more formal afternoon. Interspersed are other names I haven't seen in awhile--Rose, my grandmother's sister--and the Great Aunt I remember visiting in her house with the tilted floor and few groceries. Grandma and I would bring in bags of food--always with extra, nonessential delights for Aunt Rose's three boys--and after a good, long visit, Grandma would kiss her sister and slip her a $20 bill. Aunt Rose has been gone a long time now, but her name lingers on one Kismet sheet.

My cousins are there--Lisa and Robin, and my sisters--Megan, Tarri and Nancy. No doubt, some of those names hit their sheets as we crammed together on a balmy summer evening in the travel trailer we liked to pretend was our home. We'd bring chips and onion dip out with us, and grease up the dice.

Our husbands are there--but clearly before they were our husbands. Dave W. reads one, back when the W belonged to him alone, and not to us. Dave R. reads another, when he was just my sister's boyfriend.

And then there are the silly names--the ones which freeze our then-moods for all time. Sassy I see, in my own handwriting--and Lulu, Wildflower, Animal, and Stud Muffin in others. If I'm not mistaken, Animal was Grandpa. Should have been, anyway. He got such a kick out of beating us, he once sat me purposefully in front of the sliding glass door while we played Old Maid, just so he could see my cards in the reflection in the window and not grab the spinster out of my hand. I can still hear his laughter when finally, after exaggerating his peeks for my benefit, I turned and figured out his strategy.

I love all the names, all the people, represented on those thin, 4 by 6 sheets of paper. I skim them once again, remembering faces, and comments, and the sounds of laughter ... and a time when life was much, much simpler than it is now.

But then I go back to Mickey, and sit awhile with my friend ... and the person I'm most missing today.

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13 Comment:

At 4/12/2006 10:09 AM, Blogger Cora had this to say ...

Oh, Shannon! You knew I would have to comment on this one.

I, too, have many old sheets of Yahtzee that I love to page through. Most of them are between my friend, Linda, and I. But I think the cards with Chris' name is taking over. Although sometimes you wouldn't know it was Chris with the goofy names he puts on his sheets.

Must share with you. . .we were playing yesterday and I rolled 4, yes, 4 Yahtzees in one game. Imagine the joy on my face as I yelled out "YAHTZEE" not only once but 4 times. My grand total in that game was 607! I think I broke a record!

Those old sheets are great memories and shouldn't be left in the recycle bin. Save them and share your memories.

At 4/12/2006 10:13 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

FOUR Yahtzees?! Cora! I think you DID break a record. I can only imagine what Chris said to all that. :)

No way are these going in the recycling bin. I have this big treasure-chesty jewelry box thing--they'll be going in there.

All this talk makes me want to throw some dice. When are you free? :)

At 4/12/2006 11:20 AM, Anonymous Pam D. had this to say ...

I've never saved old game sheets, but I experience those same memory triggers whenever I pick up a favorite old book and read a hand-written inscription to me -- like the one signed, "Auntie Bobbie" (not really my aunt, but a childhood friend of my mom's who loved us as if she were). I still love to read what she wrote to the 7 year old me...telling me of her dreams for me, encouraging me... And the way I loved her curly swirls on each letter she wrote... ;) It was this little book that inspired me to draw and paint (with oils and with words!)

At 4/13/2006 7:14 AM, Blogger Reverberate58 had this to say ...

What a wonderful story and the memories it provokes. Thanks for sharing.

At 4/13/2006 7:38 AM, Blogger Fran had this to say ...

I love your stories. We didn't do a lot of game playing unless the power was out. I think that's a big part of why I love storms so much; they carried the possibility of family togetherness.

Now I feel all nostalgic. Maybe the kids and I should have a game day...

At 4/13/2006 10:49 AM, Anonymous Jon had this to say ...

I guess everyone has their own type of treasures.But for me,I still have some old love letters that I just haven't gotten rid of yet,lol.They are from a girl who I really didn't even date any at all.But she liked me and I guess I kinda liked her,lol.Anyhow she moved to another state,and I kid you not,I received a letter from her almost every single day!! for quite some time.

Anyhow she said some things came up and she wouldn't be coming back,so I decided to start talking to another girl.Well she said she wasn't coming back,right? But guess what? In about a week she came back.Anyways that is history now.I guess I still like those letters,lol.But if I were married,believe you me,I would get rid of them right quick!

Also I seen that you belonged to a Calvary Chapel on your side bar.Exactly what is that? The closest one is about 2 hours away from where I live.What do you all believe? And what is the closest denomination is it? Do you all share closer beliefs to Baptists,Church of God or what?

At 4/14/2006 12:54 PM, Blogger Macromoments had this to say ...

Shannon, if you haven't taught a class on how to write creative description, you should. This is the kind of prose that pulls readers in:
I carried them to the couch much the way you would carry a Faberge egg, or a tripped grenade, or anything else you didn't much care to drop.

Your writing flows like spilt honey.

At 4/14/2006 12:54 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Great memory, Pam--and impressive that you've saved it! I've lost so many childhood mementos. I'm always awed when I come across something that survived (like these score sheets).

Thanks, Reverberate 58. :) Fran, did you get in your game day?

Hi Jon! Yes, I think when you get married, you'll have to toss those letters. Very wise idea. :)

Calvary Chapel is a non-denominational association of like-minded churches. We adhere to certain doctrinal stances (like pre-trib rapture), but there's a lot of latitude among the pastors.

It's hard to say who we most closely line up with. The truth is, because we believe in the gifts, Baptists sometimes refer to us as Pentacostals. But because we believe in order in worship, Pentacostals think we're Baptist-like. We're right in the middle. One thing you will find (or should find) in every Calvary is a high esteem for the Word. All the CC pastors I know teach verse-by-verse through the Scriptures.

Something else that is pretty across-the-board is that we're casual and simple. More emphasis on Jesus and less on programs.

Too bad the nearest one is 2 hours away from you--I'd encourage you to run down and check it out if there was one on the corner. :)

At 4/14/2006 12:57 PM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Look who is descriptive! Bonnie, you never fail to fill me up. Whenever you comment, I want to drop what I'm doing and start writing something.

Thank you :)

At 4/19/2006 12:34 PM, Blogger oopseedaisee had this to say ...

What a wonderful rememberance. Its funny the odd ways we are made to recollect times gone by. Thanks for sharing these memories.

At 4/20/2006 7:42 AM, Blogger C. H. Green had this to say ...

Funny how simple things can trigger such deep memories. The other day I came across some piano lessons that my sister and I had done from 1974. They were in an old suitcase with some other sheet music I had kept from long ago. We were practicing writing notes of the scale. It was like meeting a stranger, seeing my own writing in a child's nine-year old scrawl. I thought how lucky I was that I had dated it.
My thoughts then went to my mother, and how she saved and scrimped to pay for lessons for the three of us girls. What a gift she gave me. Often, when I grieve for her, I sit down to play and am reminded of her love for me.
Your post touched a chord in me today. Thank you for sharing.

At 4/20/2006 8:24 AM, Blogger shannon had this to say ...

Hello Susan! So nice to hear from you.

CHG--what a wonderful memory. You'll have to write about that. I've often remembered my own mother's such sacrifices with an appreciation that only comes from this side of mothering.

Thanks for writing. :)

At 4/26/2006 11:22 AM, Anonymous Jon had this to say ...

Thanks for the info:I wish that there was one that was closer to where I live and I would go and check them out anyways.I am Baptist but I will admit that our Baptist churches are going cold and some of them are more into programs and fun and games and bring entertainment into our churches.Anyways I don't want to get off of topic.I was just curious.

Those letters were back in my youth,the good part if I did get married and was to forget about them,at least they are postaged stamped.LOL.At least that would save my hide,lol.I kid you not though,this girl must have liked me alot,I received letters from her almost everyday!The days of my youth,LOL.


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