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A Scrabble House Call

alexscrabble.jpg My friend Alex called to set up one of our monthly Scrabble games. We were trying to pick a date in between her cancer treatment, medical tests, and a possible surgery.

“It has to be before the 20th because we’re going to Iceland,” she said.

What?! Why? I asked.

“My sister-in-law offered us a free trip. They have Icelandic ponies there that she wants to see,” Alex explained.

I’ve known Alex for the past 15 years, but we only started getting together regularly last fall, drawn by our mutual interest in playing Scrabble. When I think of her, I think of 2 things: her art and her love of horses. She’s a rugged individualist, one who does what she sets her mind to, like going back to school for her fine arts degree while raising her daughter and holding down a full-time job as a mail carrier - or, more recently, surpassing her doctor’s prognosis for how long she has left to live.

Because of her cancer, her doctors didn’t think she’d make it to Christmas last year. Not only did she live to see Christmas, she made the half hour drive to Floyd to play Scrabble with me at the Café Del Sol, and she brought me a Christmas present that she had made. Last month she recommended my book to her woman’s book club and then hosted me to attend one of their meetings.

When we finally agreed on a date and I made the trip out to the Shawsville countryside where she and her husband live, she seemed weaker than I had ever seen her.

“The treatments are cumulative,” she told me.

As we set up the board in the sunny alcove of her kitchen, she took a call from one of her doctors. More tests were being discussed when I heard her say, “I don’t have much time. I’m going out of the country on the next Friday.”

Alex’s state of health didn’t curb her ability to beat me. She’s better than me at Scrabble.
Do you have a down parka? I asked while giving her a hug before leaving.

“We won’t need one,” her husband, who had arrived at the end of our game, injected. Not only is it warm in Iceland now but there is continuous daylight there this time of year, he told me.

Alex’s illness puts life in perspective, as far as planning it goes. I just want her to be well enough to fulfill her plan to see Iceland. I can practically see her there already against the pristine landscape dotted with wild ponies.

Our next Scrabble game is planned for June. Maybe I’ll get lucky.


Great picture of her with the cat. Good for her for heading to Iceland. Chemo can't keep a horsewoman from horses even if she has to fly an ocean to get there. :-)

Your scrabble love sure connects you with a lot of people!

I have to agree with Pearl... scrabble does seem to connect you with lots of people. :) Wow.

What a touching story. I think it is the will to live that helps people get over the most difficult things... including cancer. Good for her for going to Iceland. I hope you get that scrabble game in in June.

In many ways Scrabble is a premise for my social life!

Alex doesn't do chemo. She was using immune therapy, which is not toxic, but then had to go onto something stronger...but still not as toxic as chemo and so it doesn't make her as sick.

Wow, that's a really sweet story. I'm amazed that she's willing to travel. I think I'd be more apt to stay home. I hope she has a wonderful time and is able to enjoy a few more games with you.

PS: I adore Floyd, VA. You're so lucky to live there!

The interesting thing is, we are all in the same boat as Alex, none of us knowing from one moment to the next which is our last. Makes everything more meaningful when I can live in that space. I saw you liked Bones of the Master. A friend of mine is about to make his second trip to Mongolia, his blog is http://danzanravjaa.typepad.com/my_weblog/. Michele sent me.


Here from Michelles

Great story.
You've got me hoping that Alex can beat the cancer too; like she beat you at Scrabble.

What a nice story and I say good for Alex...living every day to the fullest, never mind how many of those days might be left. I'm sure her attitude is increasing those days. Those ponies are gorgeous. How nice she's going to see them.

wow. what an inspiring story. way to go alex!!
scrabble is an incredible game. i love it. my (step) nanny plays it all the time and she's over 90 now. until last year she was still as bright as a button! its so good for you! i can't wait till the lets are old enough.

here's hoping she sees all she wants to see and beats you on her return.

stay strong girls.

Oh my. I'm so glad I read this, Colleen. You have the most wonderful friend in Alex!

Sounds like she’s set her mind on it. What a place to visit. I’ve never been, but my cousin used to live there—she’s married to a Navy officer. After Reykjavik, it was Qatar. Now they’re in State College, PA. I like the picture of Alex. She’s just beaming. And the cat is perfect!

What a lady! I admire her just from your post. And what a wonderful trip!

Good luck at your next battle!

Alex is an inspiration! Would love to see her get to Iceland -- and I believe Scrabble has its own recuperative powers....

She obviously has learned how to live life to its fullest. That's a lesson we all could use. There is no guarantee of tomorrow.

What a great photo of the ponies!

wonderful story!

Yes, I hope you get lucky, too. Lucky enough to have many more games with such a special person.

thats a great story.i looooove icelandic ponies two. great breed. that ladie sounds like great person. hope she makes it for yalls next scrabble appointment. :)

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