The Price of Happiness

The price of happiness.

My grandmother loved to do the crossword -- and play scrabble. The only person you don’t want to go against at scrabble, other than my dad, is his mom. Grandma Betty was a tenacious and wicked scrabble player. She could find a place to stick the Q or J in the last two moves and giggle at her cleverness until you had to join in at her quick-witted jocularity. (did you see what I did there with the q and j?)

So, when my grandparents relocated to Florida from Michigan because of Grandpa’s bad heart, one of the few delights she found was that the St. Petersburg Times was delivered in the morning and had a dandy cross-word, and the Evening Independent showed up around four in the afternoon, and there was another fine little puzzle to work on after dinner.

They lived in an apartment complex on North 4th Street in St. Pete. The newspaper wasn’t delivered to their door, but to a box machine in the breezeway. My grandma would collect her change and jiggle to the paper box and drop in her nickels and dimes. The Times was twenty cents and the independent was fifteen back in those days.

My grandfather, recently retired, and not interested in word games or word play or words, in general (he was a quiet tinkerer) became annoyed with my grandmother’s constant involvement with her puzzles until it brought the two of them to cross words. (be honest, you saw that one coming). During a visit to Florida by my dad, my grandfather grumbled about Grandma Betty’s devotion to her puzzle. “She works those stupid crosswords every day for hours sometimes” gramps complained. My recently divorced father replied “Dad, you can keep your wife quiet and happy on thirty-five cents a day. You are a lucky man.”

Gramps never again gave Grams a cross word about her crosswords.

What is your price of happiness?