Othello is a board game. The playing board consists of 64 squares, eight by eight. There are 64 pieces, similar to checkers, that are light on one side and dark on the other. Two people play by placing their discs on the board with their assigned color facing up. If a player manages to place discs on both ends of a line of the opponent’s color, the line is turned to match the color of the current player.

We used to have an Othello board and discs and I used to play the game. I’ve never been much for board games, and often when the family sits down to play a game, I’m happy to just watch and not play. I’m trying to push myself to play more games, and can be found with Uno cards in my hands on occasion. Uno is the favorite game of our granddaughter at present. I have such pleasant memories of my mother playing games with our children, that it is part of my image of what a grandparent does, so I push myself to play on occasion, though I still am not a big fan of playing games.

I can, however, remember one evening that we played Othello. It was March 14, 1981, and we were in the kitchen of the Congregational parsonage in Hettinger, North Dakota. The length of a game of Othello can vary widely, from just a few minutes to nearly an hour, depending on the strategies employed and the ability of players to anticipate their opponent’s moves. I think the length of the game can vary quite a bit due to the conversation and ideas being shared around the game as well.

As hard as I try to remember that evening, I cannot remember who won the most games. My memory doesn’t seem to include any strategies or even images of the game board with one color having the majority. I cannot remember whether I was playing light or dark discs.

The reason I remember playing the game is that it was one of the things we did in the early evening as Susan began to experience labor. Since it was a first pregnancy, neither of us was sure exactly what to expect. We had attended the classes and we had read the books, so we knew that when labor became regular and contractions became close to each other it was time to head for the hospital. Those books, however, don’t give you a specific definition, or at least what was happening in our family didn’t fit the description. We waited a few hours before we finally loaded into the car and made the trip to the hospital. We arrived there in plenty of time. It was more than 12 hours later that our baby was born.

I learned that night why the process is called labor and I gained a great deal of respect for Susan’s strength, endurance, and ability to work hard and long. I also remember that the evening and night was a process of waiting. Waiting can mean releasing control of time. I have long had the tendency to plan more activities than fill any amount of time, so I rarely experience anything like boredom, but like to have things go according to plan. We have a joke in our house that when I’m involved, we always arrive early for any event or appointment. Like other jokes, it is based in the truth. I don’t like being late. I don’t like not controlling my time.

I’m learning patience living where we do because I am dealing with a bit more traffic than in other places we have lived. A sense of humor and a bit of patience goes a long way to making commuting less stressful. Another factor is that when we drive anywhere from our home, including the short trip to our son’s farm, we go past a railroad crossing that is near an oil refinery and often has trains passing. The trains can be long - over 100 cars - and one learns that waiting for the train is just part of the process. There is a second railroad crossing past our son’s place, near the Interstate highway. If you catch a train at the second crossing (or the same train a second time), the delay can be 10 minutes or more. The longest we have waited at a crossing was just over a half hour when the train went back and forth coupling additional cars somewhere down the line.

We are definitely in the days of waiting with the imminent arrival of a new grandchild. All of the signs are pointing to a birth sometime in the next few days. Our other grandchildren in that family have their overnight bags packed in case they need to spend a night at our house. We have our phones close at hand at all times in case the call comes for us to go and help with the grandchildren.

This baby, however, like all other babies, will come when the time is right and for now we need to exercise patience.

It is not like I don’t have anything to do while I am waiting. We still have plenty of sorting to do following our recent move. There are pictures that need to be hung on the walls. There are boxes with contents that need to be sorted. There are always some small home repair and cleaning jobs that demand my attention. I could always sort through the board games to see if we kept the Othello board.

The skill of releasing control is not an easy one for me. As I age, however, I realize more fully that I am rarely really in control. Usually my sense of control is only an illusion. I can’t control the timing of sunrise or sunset. I can’t control the timing of my aging. I can’t control how long I will wait in a doctor’s office or at a traffic light.

One of these days I will be writing a letter to a new grandchild. It could be tomorrow, or it could be another day. I’m not in control of the timing. And that is a good thing.

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