Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Pac-Man Kind of Morning

Sunday morning I awoke to a sound that catapulted me into a déjà vu moment: Mario Karts. The Super Nintendo belonged to Jim and Mario Karts was his favorite game to play. My youngest son was sitting on the floor in front of the TV showing his three-year-old how to play.

“Put this game in, Daddy,” my grandson said.

So Rob popped in a different Mario game. While Rob played the game, my grandson was looking at the pictures on the other games. “Oh, put the pirate game in!”

“That’s actually Donkey Kong on a Pirate Ship.” But Rob put it in and started it up. Within a few minutes, that game was forgotten when another game pak caught my grandson’s attention.

“Play Race Cars,” was soon followed with, “Football!” My grandson happily pushed buttons on the football game and got all excited when he heard “First down!” It didn’t matter if it was his team or the other, he felt like he was part of the game.

“These games are pretty primitive,” Rob said. Compared to the realistic new games, they are indeed.

Rob picked up Ms. Pac-Man and started it. My seven-year-old granddaughter decided to play. She quickly caught on and alternately ran from the ghosts until Ms. Pac-Man gobbled a power pack and then she chased them.

“The Christmas we got the Pac-Man game we stayed up all night playing it,” I said.

“That was on the Atari,” Rob said. “It had a joy stick.”

I couldn’t remember what the old players were called and Rob reminded me that our first player was an Odyssey. “You played Pong on it by twisting dials,” he said.

The video games were never my thing, but Jim and our sons played many spirited games. They were competitive with each other and with their individual high scores.

My granddaughter became discouraged when she couldn’t clear the Ms. Pac-Man screen. “Try to beat your own score,” Rob told her.

It was the smaller score to the left of the high score still recorded from long ago. I don’t know whether the score was Jim’s or one of the kid’s. “I bet I could beat that high score in one game,” Rob said. Soon he had the first screen cleared and moved to the next level. It wasn’t long before a new high score replaced the old one.

What else could you expect from the son of the Game Master? Jim played for many years after he developed dementia. Some of the caregivers I hired to watch him while I worked played games with him. Jim was still a formidable player.

Jim passed down his love of playing games to our sons, and they, in turn, passed it on to our grandchildren. The game sounds brought back memories and I could feel Jim’s presence and imagine his big smile and laughter at small hands on the same game controls he had held so many times. Jim would have loved to see his son and grandchildren play the games he used to play.

This morning was a glimpse of what might have been but never was. Just another example of how each day dawns a little differently, and each sun sets a little askew.

Copyright © November 2010 L. S. Fisher
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