I've wasted a lot of years as a non-puzzler. It's a regret I must bear, right up there with the years spent as a non-reader. But now, at mid-life, I'm making up time with both.
Until about a decade ago, I had believed that working at a puzzle must be pretty much the most boring pastime, and that I'd likely engage in it when I was old—like, maybe 90 or something. For as far back as I can remember, my parents had both enjoyed puzzling and, from my childish perspective, I had always thought they were old.
Dad and Mom didn't have a lot of time, or money, for that matter, to spend on puzzles when we kids were young; but they loved it, and so there was usually something in progress on the puzzle table. My little sister and I wanted desperately to get our hands on it, to hopefully contribute something to the finished product. I remember cramming pieces together, creatively trying to make them fit. The next thing I remember was learning to leave the puzzle alone.
And so, I did. For the next 40 years.
In retrospect, I do things a bit differently than my parents did, regarding the puzzle table. I don't believe that a few misshapen or even missing pieces can ruin a puzzle, and I'm determined to teach my three-year-old granddaughter to enjoy this long before she's old. However, in Dad's defense, today's puzzles are not only much sturdier, but also cheaper ($2.99 at Value Village) into the bargain! :)
Dad's been gone for more than twenty years now, and oh! how I wish he could know that I've finally learned to puzzle! But I'm also very grateful for the wonderful times I'm able to enjoy puzzling with Mom as she grows older. As we grow older. We drink coffee, sing the old gospel hymns by heart, share a laugh . . .
As the Alzheimer's continues to take Mom further from us—further from the ability to puzzle, sing, remember, and laugh—I'm growing more and more grateful for the hope of heaven. Heaven, where I can anticipate finding Dad.
And maybe even a good puzzle.