Children’s Games

Photo by Susan Crossett

Kick the Can. Capture the Flag. Both played within biking distance at neighboring friends who shared huge back yards.

When it wasn’t summer perfect and we’d aged a bit, Monopoly and Clue. Card games of course.

I ran out of game players as I turned older though one drawer still holds Uno cards, cribbage board, checkers and chess, many decks of cards, even a plastic holder for Canasta.

I’ve forgotten how to play many of them now. Something about aging and putting away childish things though I’ve never truly gone along with that bromide.

Still . . . I don’t want to play games anymore.

This hit home very hard recently when I connected with an old friend following our Christmas messages. Two classmates had died in December. (And this was a very small school.) I immediately pictured musical chairs. That used to be fun . . . once.

Remember? Best played with a large number, each was seated on his or her own chair. When the music began (I remember piano but am sure other times a needle dropped onto a revolving 78 rpm record), everyone was up and marching clockwise around their chairs. Someone (the record player perhaps, it wouldn’t work with the pianist) took away one of those chairs which, as I recall, were generally arranged in two touching back-to-back lines. Why not a circle? Maybe sometimes it was.

Anyway . . . one chair out. The music stops. Grab! Someone didn’t get to a chair in time — no sitting on someone else’s lap permitted — and is out. Yup. O-U-T.

So it went: losers cheering on those remaining until there were just three, then two, and then one. Who will be the next one out?

I don’t want to play.

Trouble is it’s called LIFE and it isn’t a game and nobody gets to decide who gets the next chair and who doesn’t.

I’ve lost (sad euphemism, isn’t it?) classmates since grade school. Polio first. Some names, if not faces, I still remember. Many I don’t.

I do not want to dwell on loss — or sadness. It’s folly, for starters. Pointless after that.

We take (pretty much) the hand we’re dealt. (Games again!) Given the choice, I opt for the good — and there is so much. Always. Only would you out there please stop dying?

Stupid, huh?

I know it’s the odds. (Games again!) As we grow older, fewer of us are left — and all (face it, folks) will ultimately pass on. Just not yet, OK?

I’m certainly not afraid of death. Whatever’s “over there” is certain to be a big surprise. When I was in my thirties, curiosity made me want to peek. No, I can wait — and hope to do so happily with, God willing, health and happiness. Amendment — make that physical AND mental health. And both will increase if you, friends, just hang around longer too.

Dad had physical problems from the time he returned from WWII but never allowed those failures to dampen his spirit. He’d probably still be kicking if he hadn’t ended up in the hospital. Still . . . 93 is a good starter age.

Personally, I’ve got a lot to look forward to, projects that need to be completed. Some time (maybe) I’ll even get things here at home all sorted and organized. Or not.

I once knew a man who had many irons in the fire but couldn’t complete anything. Ambition wasn’t a factor. Nor even drive. In his case, it was a form of knowing he just had to wake up in the morning: too much yet to do. (It didn’t work.)

I don’t share that burden. I wake up eager to see what my present will bring.

That’s the only game I want to play. And it’s always different.

Life? Deal me in.

Susan Crossett has lived outside Cassadaga for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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