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My mom passed away this year. It wasn’t covid-related. We’d been expecting it for a long time, 5 years or more, and then this year it happened.
I got my love of games from her. From my dad, I got my ability to see a project through, beginning to end; because of my mom, most of my projects are games.
The last time I saw her was 2 years ago now. I flew into Utah for a day or two before joining my family at Big Bad Con. I knew I wouldn’t get many more chances to say goodbye, and it turned out to be the last one. She lived until the end with a couple of my younger siblings. She didn’t know me, but she responded to the love in my face and voice, and when my sister told her who I was, she believed her.
We still played games, of course. My mom couldn’t play many games anymore, but she enjoyed sitting on the couch and listening to her kids play games together. We played Splendor and Star Realms and she dozed.
One game she could still play was ICECOOL, a fun, silly action tabletop game, a cross between croquet and table skittles, where you flick your penguin through a maze of rooms and try to whack into the other penguins with it. She was tiny, made childlike by her dementia, wobbly on her feet, but she could still flick a mean penguin.
When I was little, my favorite family game was Rummikub, which if you don’t know it is a tile-laying game in the Rummy family. The way we played it, if you could play a tile anywhere on the table, you could play it, and if you had to rearrange some of the sets and runs already in play to do it, still, you could. But look out! If you were wrong, you had to put everything back exactly how it was when you started, so you better be right, or you better remember.
Of all the games we played together, I think my mom and I most closely shared our enjoyment of this one. We both loved the satisfaction of reordering, freeing up, borrowing, and rearranging a dozen tiles, twenty tiles, the whole everloving table, just so we could play our one red 3 or whatever.
Pirate Rummy gives you all that joy, and also, sometimes you just sail a pirate ship over, plunder the one card you need, and leave THEM to figure out how to put the table back together again.
Anyhow. Here’s to my mom. I miss her.