Monday, June 24, 2013

The Crossword Connection

I've come to enjoy Father's Day in the ten years it has pertained specifically to me.  My wife does her best to spoil me (though, to be honest, I feel spoiled on most days), and this year was no different.  The kids always scrawl me out a couple of loving cards, and I get one big, pampering gift, and one small, tongue-in-cheek gift.

This year it was a 90-minute massage and a nose hair trimmer, respectively.  In addition, however, Jeanette got me The New York Times Will Shortz Presents Every Day with Crosswords: 365 Days of Easy to Hard Puzzles.   She got me this particular gift, because she remembers a time, early in our relationship, where crossword puzzles, from the New York Times could often be found on the various night-stands and coffee tables of our world.

My wife also knows that crossword puzzles -- like chess, which I've described in a previous post -- hold a special place in my family history, because my father was a prodigious puzzler himself.  In fact, when I picture him, I see him sitting in a golden yellow upholstered easy chair, with the Times on a clipboard in one hand, and a pen (always a pen and NEVER a pencil, which I still adhere to) in the other, his scotch and water sweating in a glass on the side table.

He's looking over his reading glasses when I picture him this way, smiling, the lines above his cheekbones deepening, as they always did.  He'd probably rather be working on the puzzle than entertaining whatever it is I've interrupted him for, but he rarely, if ever, expressed any exasperation about having to put the clipboard down in his lap to address my issue.

I can't remember whether or not I was resentful of the time my dad spent with his crossword puzzles.  To be fair, he was quick -- much quicker than I -- in solving them, so that time was probably negligible.  Because I myself enjoy puzzling now, I of course get that this was his private time when he could tune us and our constant squabbles out and just enjoy his puzzle.  (Not to mention his cocktail.)  Like Hanno, I am a hard-working father of two energetic and mostly happy boys, doing my best to help them along.  I now understand that means that my father, like me, and like every parent who fits the description, actually worked two jobs, and the one for which he got paid was definitely the easier of the two.

So this break, this brief respite or reprieve from the job of being a parent, is something my father appreciated deeply.  I appreciate it, too, and this gift from my wife, shows her appreciation of it, as well.  For this I thank her, more, probably, than she'll ever know.
The author getting ready to delve into a morning crossword.

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