the quiet satisfaction of solving puzzles

Mom has always loved doing puzzles. Jigsaw, crossword, Sudoku and the rest. She still does puzzles, though the level of difficulty has decreased over the years. We used to do 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles, but now have an upper limit of 500 pieces. Moderately difficult Sudoku puzzles were replaced by easier versions and have now pretty much fallen out of the repertoire. Word searches are now more common than crossword puzzles. The good news is that Mom still loves to do puzzles. 

Between knitting, reading and puzzles, Mom gravitates toward activities that keep her brain working. Who cares if the level of difficulty isn’t what it used to be. The important thing is that she stays engaged with something that makes her think. What’s more, she chooses these activities over more passive entertainment, such as television.

I love to do puzzles, too. Interestingly, I do more puzzles when I’m more stressed – at times when I don’t have the patience or bandwidth for reading literary fiction or complex nonfiction. Needless to say, I have done a lot of crossword and Sudoku puzzles over the past couple of years.

Actually doing jigsaw puzzles is only possible because Oscar is older and less interested in wreaking havoc with the puzzle pieces – it was impossible when he was younger. Occasionally, he does jump up on the table when we are working on the puzzle, perhaps to ensure that he is the center of attention. He doesn’t like it when attention shifts from him to something else. More generously, perhaps he just wants to be part of the gang and wants to help. Given that he generally lays on the puzzle in a way that covers the maximum number of pieces, I’m inclined to think it’s the attention thing!

We almost always have a jigsaw puzzle going. I try to have a variety so that we don’t get bored and so we can match the season. Another great thing about jigsaw puzzles is that they can be done over and over again. I do have to intervene more than I used to, as Mom sometimes gets stubborn and insists that pieces fit where they actually do not. I try to do the clean-up efforts when she is taking a nap or otherwise engaged!

2 thoughts on “the quiet satisfaction of solving puzzles

  1. deb February 16, 2018 / 8:12 am

    My 91-year-old mother-in-law lives in a retirement community. In the craft & art room they always have at least one jigsaw puzzle going. Often there are two–one 500 piece & the other an ambitious 1000 piece. She goes in there as she heads for dinner most days and when my husband visits, he pops in too. My sister-in-law and her husband (both retired military) often have a puzzle going. They also have one of those mat-like things which can be rolled up & still preserve the puzzle-in-progress.


    • alphacatonline February 25, 2018 / 9:24 am

      It’s great to hear that! I think puzzles are terrific ways to be entertained and engage the brain. We gave a bunch of larger puzzles to a retirement community and I gave a couple more to another charity. Hopefully, people have been enjoying them. I’m interested in the “mat-like thing” that allows the puzzle to be rolled up! Sounds great. Thanks, as always, for your comment.


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