Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


I love to do logic puzzles and Sudoku. If I had time, I'd spend all day, everyday, working them. I subscribe to a company that sends me a book of logic puzzles each month. I generally finish off the book of puzzles in three or four days.

I've been doing logic puzzles since I first started teaching. The students loved them -- the simpler ones -- and I was hooked. At one point I was going to go to law school and much of the LSAT consists of what I would consider logic puzzles. But, God had other plans and I never made law school and I never became Judge Judi.

But I get my love for puzzles from my mother. She would work the Philadelphia Bulletin and the Philadelphia Inquirer crossword puzzles everyday -- at least after we children became self sufficient and she was able to take a couple of hours a day to relax.

I remember her sitting in "her" chair -- the one opposite my father's chair. Her chair was a soft chair, whereas, dad's chair was a wooden, captain's chair. I digress.

She was good at doing the puzzles, too. My sister recently reminded me how much mom loved doing those puzzles and was so disappointed when, in her last years, the medicines she was taking, took away her memory and her ability to read and think and remember the simplest words.

Now the medical community tells us that if one does those types of puzzles it will help with your memory as you age. Huh! I don't know about that. I've had several mini-strokes and with each one I find that my ability to remember words longer than two syllables is becoming less and less, so I can sympathize with my mother -- NOW -- but I couldn't at the time her mind was failing.

I now understand how difficult it was for her. She was very smart. She had to be, she was fluent in three languages. She didn't fail quickly either. Her inability to think clearly started after her first heart attack in 1970 and for 18 years she gradually lost her ability to remember. She didn't have dementia or Alzheimer's, her memory loss was due strictly to the medicines she was taking to keep her heart going.

I wish I could tell her that I understand and apologize for not helping her more when she would ask me for a word to finish a puzzle.

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