• 64°

Sharon Randall: Playing to win

By Sharon Randall

For the past hour, my husband has been sitting in our spare room, squinting at a big-screen TV and speaking urgently into a headset, as if his life, and maybe mine, depended on it.

Picture Tom Hanks in “Apollo 13” reporting to mission control, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Papa Mark (as he is known to our grandkids and a growing number of family, friends and readers of my column) is retired from a storied (pun intended) career as a newspaper editor.
He now finds other ways to occupy his time: Playing his bass. Watching HGTV. Looking for his lost keys. But nothing beats what he’s doing now.

Why? Because he loves it. And he’s not nagging me to find his lost keys. And best of all, he is making a little boy, who is 500 long miles away, very happy.

Randy is 7, the first of our six grandchildren. He is smart, sweet and good. (Yes, I’m his nana.) He has lots of interests and lots of people to share them with including his brother Wiley, who’s 5, and sister Eleanor, 3.

But he really likes playing a video game with Papa Mark.

When we go to California, they sit side by side in Randy’s room, hunched over video controllers, with Wiley hanging on Papa Mark’s neck and Elle sitting in his lap telling him what to do.

I wish you could see them.

Papa Mark also plays that game with Henry and Charlotte, who are 6. He does other things with the younger ones: Legos with Wiley. Pretty Ponies with Elle. And he sings to 1-year-old Archer to watch him dance.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to visit as often as we’d like. So when we’re home in Las Vegas, a world apart, they play the game long distance, online.

I can hear him now, talking to Randy through a headset. I took him coffee and whispered into the headset: “Hey, my darlin’!”

“Hey, Nana!” Randy’s sweet voice replied, “I miss you!”

I love that game. I love how it connects my husband with our grandchildren. And gives me a chance to hear I’m missed.

In fact, I love it almost as much as I love checkers.

Believe it or not, when I was Randy’s age, there were no video games. TV was a black-and-white, 16-inch screen that played “Lassie,” “Gunsmoke” and “The Howdy Doody Show.”

At least, that’s all I watched. But when I visited my grandparents, every night before bed, we’d read or tell a story. Then we’d play a game or two of checkers.

My dad’s mother would let me win. She was fun. (My mother’s mother didn’t play checkers. She taught me to play Rook and how to cheat without getting caught.)

But my grandfathers took checkers seriously, and insisted that I did, too. So I did. I took losing very seriously. I never beat them. But I learned, win or lose, you always play to win.

My dad’s dad died undefeated when I was 12. I was in college the last time my mother’s dad, also undefeated, challenged me to a game. I watched his hands shake as he set up the board.
We played for half an hour, studying each move. And then, by some miracle, I won. We stared at each other in disbelief. Finally, he burst out laughing and grabbed the phone.

“Claude,” he said to a neighbor he often played and loved to beat, “the college girl’s here. Come play her some checkers.”

I had never felt so proud.

Playing games with a child is a gift for young and old. Any game will do, in the flesh or online. All that matters is the connection, the lovely sense of belonging and the memory that will linger long beyond the final move.

I read and tell stories with my grandbabes. But they’re growing up so fast. Are they old enough to play checkers? I’m certainly old enough to teach them.

Next time we visit, I’m taking a checkerboard. Win or lose, we’ll all be winners. Maybe I’ll even teach them to play Rook.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077 or www.sharonrandall.com.

Comments

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT

Nation/World

D-Day survivor, WWII torch bearer Ray Lambert dies at 100

Nation/World

Prince Philip was always defined by role as husband of British queen

China Grove

One dead, several injured after head-on collision in China Grove

Crime

Man, woman charged for selling drugs to undercover deputies

Crime

Blotter: Rowan County man charged with indecent liberties with children

Local

Spencer town board gets look at Park Plaza progress

Business

‘Applicant market’: Unemployment rate improving as businesses hire more workers

Local

National, local business leaders praise Salisbury’s initiative to support Black-owned operations

Nation/World

Tillis has prostate cancer surgery

Coronavirus

Adverse reactions surface from Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Nation/World

Expert: Lack of oxygen killed George Floyd, not drugs

Local

Quotes of the week

Nation/World

Biden seeks crackdown on homemade firearms

Nation/World

Victim of former NFL player’s rampage wrote of faith, life’s fragility

News

Wrongly imprisoned man gets $750,000

High School

West falls to Statesville, finishes second in NPC