Dad was a crossword fanatic. And he twisted words to such an extent that understanding him really tested the limits of the redundancy of English, purposely using malapropisms, like saying "I'm going to renew my newspaper prescription." I do the same thing, and Stephen has caught my habit.
But there was one word game that was just between my dad and me: Boggle.
Every now and then when I was a teen, my dad would grab the Boggle game, play a round - all by himself (or all by "his lonesome," as he would say) and leave the game on the stairs to my bedroom, with the letters covered until I was ready to play. I, in turn, would do my round and leave my score for him to see. Dad almost always won.
Rather an odd way of playing together, wasn't it? In a normal way of playing, we would have had a chance to talk about our words and ensure that we each had precisely the same amount of time. (Why this game does not come with an audible buzzer still baffles me.)
But I cannot tell you how special this made me feel. I was the only one of the seven children he played with like this. It was a way of acknowledging our shared love of words.
It was a quirky, undemanding way to connect with a sometimes irritable teenager, and I loved him for it.
And it was kind of secret. Not that we made any vow to keep it secret, or that there was ever any real reason to keep it secret. But keeping it between the two of us made it that much more special.
So this morning when I came downstairs and saw this at my place at the table, I smiled.
My son had played the Boggle game out of the weekend paper. Stephen saw him playing it and told him the story of how my dad (whom Peter never met) and I used to play. So Peter picked up the torch and carried it on.
It's my turn now. I seriously doubt that I'll be able to beat Peter's champ-level score, but it will be fun playing "together." And, yes, I will be thinking of my love for my father, as well as for my son, the whole time.