“So, here to get your butt kicked again, are you?” Marvin Teal says to his wife, Agnes. “Okay, sit down then. I have the board set up already.”
Everyday at this time, Marvin looks forward to his wife of sixty-two years coming to visit him at the nursing home he was forced to enter three years ago. When they were first married, Marvin and Agnes promised each other that neither one of them would put the other into a home, but some promises can’t be kept, no matter how much you want to honour them. It’s your health that has the final say and Marvin’s said “I hate to do this to you, but that stroke you had makes it impossible for you to ever go home again.”
“Draw a tile to see who goes first,” Marvin instructs the love of his life. “Y, and I got a T. I win, which means you get to keep score.”
Even before their daily game of Scrabble starts, Marvin believes that he has already won. Not everyone here gets a daily visit like he does. Some never receive a visitor at all. It means the world to Marvin to have Agnes here. He thinks that a lot more marriages would last if couples learned to stick by each other through thick and thin. He stuck by Agnes five years ago when she got cancer, and now she’s here to comfort him.
“Flew. Ten points for me. Not a bad way to start the game,” he says. “Your turn. Move. And on a Triple Letter Score, too! Smarty pants.”
And so the game goes. Grime, for Marvin. Gag, for Agnes. Pat, for Marvin. Eat, for Agnes. Fortunately for Agnes, Marvin’s nurse interrupts them.
“How’s the game going today, Marvin?” Jill asks.
“Beating her as always. Poor thing, she keeps getting vowels.”
“Say Marvin, there’s someone I want you to meet. This here is Vivian. She’ll be taking care of you while I’m on vacation. Don’t go trying anything funny. I’ve told Vivian all about you.”
“Don’t believe a word she says, Vivian. They’re all lies. Well, except for those nice bits, of course.”
Jill had indeed told Vivian everything, starting with how Martin lost his wife a few years ago to cancer, but it keeps him happy and calm to think that Agnes comes to play Scrabble with him everyday, so they just let him pretend that it’s Agnes playing the other set of tiles and not him.
“Good luck with your game, Marvin. Nice meeting you Agnes. I’ll see you two later,” Vivian says before she moves along to meet the next patient.