tough choices in scrabble letters

My husband, Steve, was in the hospital for a collapsed lung after he’d had an ablation procedure. His dear friend Alex, always a first adopter when it came to technology, sauntered into the room to visit, with his brand new iPad in tow. “You’re going to love this. And she’s going to love it. You’re going to need to buy two” —the she, of course, was me. So before he’d even left the hospital, two iPads had been ordered—His and Hers—which would be delivered to our home in a day or so.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this tablet would prove to be a sanity saver for me. Never one for video or computer games, as Steve’s condition began to worsen and I began to spend more days and nights with him, I desperately needed a form of distraction that I could easily pick up and put down; something that was fully portable and would not insult my intelligence.

I desperately needed a form of distraction that I could easily pick up and put down; something that was fully portable and would not insult my intelligence.

love in scrabble lettersI couldn’t stay focused enough to read and knitting required me to count—something I had no patience for at this point. So, against my better judgment I searched out a few word games on the iPad. This was an “AHA!” moment of the highest order. I started out with anagrams and jumbles—Word Warp in particular—and found this made time fly, but soon found it less than satisfying. And so it was onto the deliciously addictive Words With Friends. In no time flat, I was juggling ten games at a time, chatting with total strangers, developing online relationships that made me feel just a little less isolated.

When Steve went into the hospital four years ago for the last time, I stayed with him around the clock for almost two weeks. He had few visitors, many of his friends having tired of the hospital experience, and we both found comfort in the company of our iPads. And so we sat, day after day—me playing Words With Friends ‘til my eyes crossed and him playing Hearts, Mah Johngg, solitaire and backgammon. Him and me. Until there were no words.

Written by Adrienne Gruberg
Adrienne Gruberg is a former family caregiver and founder of The Caregiver Space. After six years of caring for her late husband and mother-in-law she conceived of an online support space all caregivers could come to. Adrienne holds a BFA from Boston University. She founded AYA Creative in 1982, an award winning graphic design, marketing and advertising company. Her design training has helped shape the website and her personal and professional experience continues to inform and influence the caregiver centric support experience she has created at The Caregiver Space.

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  1. I got into Words with Friends during a period of upheaval in our lives. We lived in the UK and both of our mothers back in the USA were in need of care. My mom was turning into a hoarder and her health was failing. My husband’s mom was living in her own home of nearly 60 years, which was falling to bits and overrun by uninvited critters. My brother & I got our mom moved into a wonderful senior living facility near him and he got her health improved (she’d refused to see doctors for years), and hubby & I and our youngest daughter moved in with my MiL.

    Words was something I could do for a few minutes here & there between working at a rehabilitation care facility for people with brain injuries in the UK. I was feeling overwhelmed and I felt like it kept me sane as well. I planned everything required for moving us from the UK to Las Vegas (including re-homing two pets and bringing one with us), where we moved in with my MiL. The first year was spent getting the house & yard in some semblance of order – there were mouse droppings everywhere – including the bed we were to sleep in. She also had a big outdoor dog which desperately needed grooming & was tormented by flies. We managed to train the dog ourselves, got him groomed and he now lives inside the house. – he’s a whole new happy guy now!

    About 2 1/2 years later, we’re still working on projects here, but at least seeing light at the end of the tunnel (for the house anyway). I love to read, but had such a difficult time concentrating for long periods of time while surrounded by so many projects crying for attention (good thing I LOVE doing projects!). I still managed to get through a few books & worked on craft projects during our first two years here, but, Words was like my social life for a good deal of any spare time (that and Facebook!).

    I’ve given up Words now, due to many video ads (even after buying the paid version) and I still miss it – but hey, I’m reading lots more now (in between caring for mom).

    Thanks to all at The Caregiver Space and participants. It’s nice to know we’ve got each other to lean on. 🙂

  2. omg! that is exactly what my husband and i did. everyday we played scrabble, cards puzzles. that just brought all those memories flooding back. peace be with you.


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