It was raining yesterday morning when my wife and I left the house for our round of Saturday errands. We decided to stop at a doughnut shop. After being served we took our sugary treats and coffee to a table where we settled into reading the newspaper. In the background were the sounds of the bustling enterprise, and the conversations of families with children.
Putting down a section of the paper I looked up to see a couple at the next table engaged in a game of dominoes. As I watched, their interactions took me back seventy or so years to domino games with my Grandpa Harris. He had a Double Nine set and always seemed ready to challenge me to a few matches whenever I visited.
At the time, we lived in the Clifton neighborhood of Cincinnati. Grandpa and Grandma Harris lived fifty miles east at Mowrystown. He had a 16-acre farm where he rented out land to neighbors for grazing or raising crops. He also kept some chickens and a milk cow, and had a pond where he taught me to fish. A field behind the barn was perfect for flying kites on windy days.
Several summers my folks dropped me off for a two-week “vacation” there. I spent hours of free-range imagination time on a swing grandpa put on the branch of a large tree outside the kitchen. We fished with a bamboo pole he made for me. Sometimes we went shopping or took a picnic lunch and visited the Native American burial mounds. But the thing I always enjoyed most were the domino games.
We’d start out vying for who had the highest number of dots on a single tile in order to go first. We built roadways of linking numbers across the table, always looking for the double nine and a chance to play it. We laughed at each other when we had no usable tiles and had to raid the “bone pile.” It was fun. I never tired of it, and it seemed, neither did he.
All of this came back to me in the doughnut shop Saturday. It was obvious from their conversation that the man was playing dominoes with his grandmother. In our hurried world, it seems rare to find someone unhurriedly and gently nurturing a caring relationship with a simple game at a table. The rain poured outside, but the sun shone inside.
I spoke to the couple, “Would you mind if I take your picture?”
“No, go ahead.”
I did, and then asked if they would mind me sharing it on Facebook.
He said “No.”
Soon after that we gathered our papers and got up to leave. I thanked them for sharing a little of their world with us. He looked up and smiled…Grandma matched her six to the six on one of his tiles. We waved goodbye.
Maybe we could all use a few more rainy day domino moments in our busy lives.