The Last Word


At this time of remembrance, Simeon wishes to remember his beloved mother. She was a remarkably kind, beautiful, funny, intelligent and indomitable woman, and she was the reason he is a writer. Among the many stories she read to him at bedtime was The Flying Bike, which stayed with him for many years and was passed down to his children too. She was a writer who encouraged him to write, and shared with him the joy of words and the joy of playing with them. Cryptic crosswords came easily to her and she taught him how to break their code and even how to create and compile his own puzzles, many of which he’s published under a nom de plume. Many Christmases ago, when Simeon was seven, his mother bought him Scrabble, which they’d play almost every night until he became a man and left the family home.
Thirty years later, when Simeon was married and divorced and married and divorced again, his mother was dying of cancer so the bed was brought downstairs of her little cottage. She hadn’t long left, but in one of her more lucid moments between the highs of morphine, she wanted to play their last game. So he took out the box, dusted off the board and rested it on the bed, which was almost dead flat now her bones were tired and wasting.
When the board was becoming bloated and they were down to their last few tiles, his mother began to tire. He’d given her another dose of morphine as advised by the doctor and she was slipping away to painless oblivion at last, yet somehow found the strength to put down her final word and score a fifty-point bonus.
It was fitting that she recorded a memorable victory.  The fact that the word was QYPZJOCK didn’t seem to matter.


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