Onward and Upwords

Twice a week I play Upwords with a charming 90 year old lady.  Ms. Joyce can quote Wordsworth, William Cullen Byrant and A.A. Milne, and forgets what she just had for breakfast.

She has wonderful sitters, but her children, who live out of town, were looking for ways to keep her mind alert.  They ask me, the across-the-street neighbor, if I would be interested in playing word games with her a couple times a week.

Sure, I thought.  This was something that would be hard to do with my own mother, but perhaps if I’m not the daughter it could work.

Well, we tried Scrabble.  That took a very long time.  Then we tried Boggle, but neither Ms. Joyce nor I could read her writing after a quick round.  So we settled on Upwords, a game I was not familiar with.  It’s kinda like Scrabble, but you can put tiles on top of tiles to make new words.  It didn’t take too long and there was no writing involved.

At first she won many of the games.  She had, after all, been playing Upwords for years with her own children.  As I learned the strategy and remembered some of those words  used only in Scrabble, like qua and ai and el, I began to win more.

That was a couple years ago.  She now has a hard time distinguishing some letters, as her eyesight begins to fail.  She periodically claims to forget how to play.  And she uses made up words a lot.  I think all of this is part of her new strategy.

I laugh along with her,  refer to the Scrabble dictionary and generally keep the game going.  I win more than she does now.  I do have an advantage.  But every couple of weeks, she beats me.  Today it was by forty points.

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