As I drove to his farm, my mind wandered to thoughts of how I could entertain him. It is too cold and he is now too weak for walks about the property. I know he misses seeing the animals up close and personal. He adores his chocolate Swiss cows and the strange sheep that shed their woolen coats. As my car crept up the driveway, I noted they were not in the front field. Perhaps we could sit by a window and see them in a different pasture.
He was clean-shaven and dressed in layers topped by a lovely plaid wool shirt. I greeted him and we set about the task of getting him up from his chair where he had snoozed. I asked about his weekend, chatted on about my adventures with fire wood and bees and we set off on a walk across his bedroom to the window. A brown heifer was lying in the middle of the green field in back of the house. She was close enough that we could see her slowly chewing her cud in contented repose. I can’t tell the cows apart, but he can and he remarked about her.
Once I had him settled in front of the window in the sun-room, I had an idea. “Do you play chess?” I didn’t even bother to say ‘do you know how’ as I assume a man of his age and history was a master. He brightened and said, “I do!”
“Well I have tried to learn and perhaps you could teach me.”
I saw him waver, struggling with being polite. “That would not be a game of chess.”
So he watched his cow while I made tea. Running back and forth from the sun-room to the kitchen I caught up with his wife. Her breakfast of dark grainy toast with thin sliced ham sat beside her computer as she tended to the hearty lunch she was cooking. I mentioned my idea of a game to entertain him. She leapt at the idea and began retrieving boxes and boards. A treasure trove of childhood pastimes: parcheesi, chinese checkers, jig saw puzzles and memory games appeared. Some were beautifully rendered European games with hand drawn cards and the Chinese Checkers was a nifty carved board. All were either missing pieces or had extras. There was even a “missing pieces” jar with parts of jig-saw puzzles, odd pegs and a tiddley wink. We piled them on the counters and marveled over memories.
As we sat down to lunch in the sunny dining room, I saw the massive bouquet of white roses. A card declared “HAPPY ANNIVERSARY” and I asked him how many years. “Thirty. I married her thirty years ago and now it is time for a new wife. How about you?” he replied with a twinkle in his green eyes. His game is still sharp, the rules have just changed a bit.
“You really don’t want to play a game do you” I asked.
“No, I don’t. But it was nice of you to think of it.” he sighed. I watched him slip into a quiet state, staring but not seeing me.