1.08.2011

'Tis Truly a Puzzle....


Don't let the eldest offspring's face fool you.  He actually was having a fantastic time.

The husband left us for a business trip, and in a momentary lapse in sanity, I grabbed a big ole jigsaw puzzle at the store and decided that it would give the boys and me a fun break from the mind numbing loop of Nickelodeon and Disney Channel shows that I have been being forced to watch time of togetherness. 

I was right.

It was a lot of fun.

And there were no tears.  Until today, when the boys decided that they were going to break the puzzle that we slaved over worked so harmoniously on last night and build it again today.  Since I have the attention span of a barn swallow, I was out of the rebuild, and therefore provided an entrance for World war III to ensue, because apparently I'm the only one in the family that doesn't lose their shorts over turning the pieces over and sorting out the sides and corners. 

I actually haven't worked a puzzle in years.  Probably the last jigsaw puzzles I worked were during the holidays at my parents' old house in Kentucky when Jim-Dad resorted to puzzling at the kitchen bar to escape the madness of the entire family in their very small living room.  My sister, Mich, and I would join him for the very same reasons.

My favorite memories of jigsaw puzzles, however, dive way back deep into the memory bank. 

Our family was living in Bangladesh, serving as missionaries, and I couldn't have been older than 6 or 7 years years old.  Even though most of the missionaries were stationed throughout the country in towns and villages, our mission had a central location in Dhaka (the capital city).  It was a large, several story brick building, that we called "The Guest House."  The Guest House was where all the missionaries stayed when they came into Dhaka, and was also a place where friends of the mission or other traveling missionaries from other countries could stay.  As I said, most missionaries, like my own family, were stationed out in the country, but there was one missionary family who lived in an apartment at The Guest House who oversaw its running and also handled the business of the mission. 

At the time that we were there, Uncle Jim and Aunt Bettye lived in The Guest House.  And I loved them so very much.  They were quite a bit older than my parents and filled somewhat of a grandparent role for me overseas, even though they did have a daughter that was just a few years older than me.  Aunt Bettye was always fun to hang around, but the one I always loved to see was Uncle Jim.

Nine times out of ten that we would show up at The Guest House, Uncle Jim would have a card table set up in their living room with a big huge jigsaw puzzle spread out on it.  There was a floor lamp that he'd drag over to the table to give more light, and the cardboard puzzle box would always be perched on the side of the table.

Uncle Jim would be sitting in a chair at the table working away, and there was always an empty chair, too.  I never ever saw anyone else sitting in that chair, and I like to think he was saving it for me.  Because when I'd bounce my pig-tailed tow-headed self in their front door, Uncle Jim would wave me over with one hand and say, "Sit yourself down here and help me.  I can't find this piece..."  and he'd point to an empty spot, and so it would go.  Every single time.  Exact same words.  "Sit yourself down here..."

I'd stay down there for what seemed like hours working on those puzzles with Uncle Jim, until Aunt Bettye would shoo me back upstairs to The Guest House for dinner or bedtime. 

To this day, I can't work a jigsaw puzzle without thinking of Uncle Jim and his card table. 

Such sweet memories.

This is Uncle Jim and I a couple of years ago at our Bangladesh Missionary Reunion.  He still looks exactly the same as I remember him back in the day.
This is Aunt Bettye and my sister, Mich, at the same reunion.


It's a PUZZLE the memories that stick out most in our child minds.  Pun totally intended. *wink&smile*

6 comments:

New Every Morning said...

I LOVE a good puzzle. The only time I do one is when we are at the mountain house. Maybe it is because I can totally ignore my offspring (put them in the care of my parents) and concentrate. It's a great way to keep the mind active (that's my excuse, anyways).

LOVE your hair, BTW, in the picture of you and Uncle J.

Mich said...

Ahhh... sweet memories.

Love ya! Ready to build a snowman?

Jim said...

Amb,
Your remembrances of Jim and Bettye took me back to the time when, after falling 8 ft from a ladder onto the ladder and a concrete floor, then instructing the family and house staff to NOT TAKE ME TO THE LOCAL DOCTORS, but wait for the arrival of another missionary who could take me in their van the 3 hours, 50 mile drive into the capital city of Dhaka, and to Jim and Bettye's where I stayed until I was able to get up and return home.

When we arrived in Dhaka at Jim's, what an unexpected blessing - a missionary orthopedic doctor was staying there, examined and treated me. You remember I had our driver Sebu to come and bring you, Mich and Mom to stay at the guest house with me for those days. And YES, I REMEMBER WORKING PUZZLES WITH JIM THEN, TOO. PRECIOUS MEMORIES. By the by, it's been a while since I called Jim and Bettye. Thanks for the reminder!

A'corse, it's no PUZZLE that sech is in the genes. Sometimes, growing up on the farm, we couldn't eat on the table for days, while we PUZZLED! And you remember my SPECIAL THANG? I would always slip a piece in my pocket, so when it was done, I'd put the last piece in place. Boy, did I get fussed at for that, but I enjoyed every minute.

I may just get out a puzzle if this winter storm hems us in.

Love you,
Jim-Dad

theelizabethhighsmith said...

love you to "pieces" glad you is back!

Bridget said...

Our family used to play puzzle when I was a teenager. I worked several puzzles while recovering from surgery this past summer.

Angie said...

Oh we sooo have to get the lil'cousins together for puzzling! It's a mortal sin to the girls if you place one piece together before finding the edges!
What up wid'it?

Great pic of the boys, by the way!!