Yesterday I saw a man out in the freezing cold riding his motorized wheelchair. I was warm in my car when we passed him by. The only cold on me were my knobby knees, poking out their Sunday best. We were late to church, as usual, and after the singing and the preaching, we got a bite to eat. It was after the soup and sandwich that we saw the man in his chair, out in the cold. We were on our way home to play a game of Scrabble with our pretend Grandmother, Betty. Betty also had a wheelchair, but the egg bumps on her upper arms told she was old fashioned.
We got home just minutes before we were to meet for tea and the game. She hadn't played since her husband died, twelve months ago. And now, my new husband and I, still warm and sugared with love for each other, would play with our pretend Grandma, Betty, and take her heart away from its lonely place, for just an hour or so.
She was delighted to see we had drawn hot water; tea always made her happy. Just tea and a handful of cookies is all it took to make this widow wed, to lift her from her chair and save her from her dead.
It was quiet in the study, so I found a tape of classical music and put it in its player. This made us feel sophisticated. To play in a house built centuries ago, across from our pretend Grandma, Betty, sipping our tea and playing our words, when really, we were just her servants.
We live and sleep up on the third floor and Betty lives and sleeps on the first. I bring her breakfast in bed and my sweet husband tends to the trash, the trees, and the birds. It was just yesterday that she asked us how we'd feel about a game of Scrabble. And of course, we said yes.
Out the study windows, the deer gathered for their dinner. We each counted four. Four, like the number of children she gave birth to, many years ago. And when her children were raised and old, she lost her second born to a car on the side of the road. Every time she talks about him, her Johnny, she tells us about his beautiful golden hair. She tells us how it looked just like their Golden Retriever's hair, and how it flowed down like amber waves of grain, and she'd say again, "Like amber waves of grain."
And I ended up winning the match. Perhaps I shouldn't have been so competitive like I always am. But she mentioned again and again, how she'd like to do this more often. How she'd like to meet for a game of Scrabble, and some tea, and perhaps a handful of cookies. That if we could just take her out of her chair and away from her riches, out of her body and away from its sickness, and into the woods and up the great mountain, that she'd go all these places while just waiting her turn...
And after the game we cleared off the table and left from the study. I helped her to bed while my sweet husband washed up the saucers. We chatted a bit and soon sadness dressed her face. "But don't worry," I whispered, "We'll play again soon. I promise, Grandmother."