One of the things I will always remember fondly from my childhood is the crossword in the newspaper.
I never did it myself. I can think of a handful of instances when I did. I never knew the answers. I’m not much better now. They ask about people I don’t know and events I can never say anything specific about. Different ways of saying things I’d never dreamed of. If it helped me remember more things I might drag myself through more of them, but even the interesting facts the crossword would teach me vanished from my mind.
That’s not why I remember them fondly. Before the computer making puzzles easily accessible, the newspaper crossword puzzle was the easily defeated nemesis of my mother. Probably not always easy, to be honest. But every day I would see the day prior’s newspaper, always open to that crossword, completely filled out in pen. I remember the ink most often in blue, though if that was her usual pen of choice… I could be wrong.
My mother’s recollection for words has always astounded me. It’s one that her family seems to thrive in and one I strive to achieve as well. I often think that if I can be half as knowledgeable about words as any of them, it will still hold me far above many. I don’t want to think of that as a sad statement of people’s usage of English as much as a compliment for their prolific vocabulary. I still drag out a thesaurus for every other word I feel as though I’ve used too often and I know I’m still an amateur at that.
But a crossword in pen! I wonder if the reality is as fascinating as my mind has fabricated.
I will always think upon the crossword puzzles of my youth as my mother’s mental workout. Despite her protests, I feel as though they have done her extraordinarily well to this day.