Friday, October 21, 2011

Herding words is in the genes


You know, I got to thinking yesterday that, other than from my mom, my love of words probably originates at some level with my Grandmother Mabe.

I thought about this a couple of Sundays ago, when I went up to Mamaw's (as she's affectionately known) house to see relatives in from Indiana. I spotted her crossword puzzle books from across the room.

Of all the things I could tell you about Lydia (it's pronounced LIE-DA) Mabe, it's that she loves crossword puzzles. She's worked them as long as I can remember. It's one of the reasons why I believe her mind is just as sharp in her late 80s as it's ever been. And it's one reason why I think she's done so well living by herself since my grandfather died in May 1988.

I've given her crossword puzzle books as presents for birthdays and at Christmas. Her eyes light up; it never fails.

Every time we chat, I learn my grandmother knows more about current events than I do, I think. She and I love to talk about local history and politics, so when we do talk on the phone, it's usually a 30 minute or hour-long conversation. She likes to tell me about relatives I've never met and stuff that happened during World War II. FDR is still her hero.

My mom and stepfather also love to work crossword puzzles. I took it up as an on-and-off hobby a few years ago. Even bought myself a crossword puzzle dictionary. It's a good mind exercise and doctors say it also helps stave off memory loss.

Years and years ago, I sat at the long, thin green table in my grandmother's kitchen (she calls it the snack bar) and composed my own newspaper. I called it the Pony Express. Mark Padgett and Dean Harned still like to laugh about the fact that I used to sit on the playground and write about the kids and the various goings on during elementary recess.

Guess I was meant to one day do my best to herd some words.

Thanks, Mamaw.

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