Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You Can’t Go Home Again? - Well Maybe to Thunderbird Lanes, You Can!

I have been hanging around the house for the past two weeks, per doctor’s orders, taking it easy, recuperating from my minor surgery.
As I am sure Ross will attest to, I think I might be going just a little stir crazy.
The subjects being discussed on the View and Katy are getting to be repetitive and mundane.
I have run out of  new-to-me TV show marathons to watch.
I’ve listened to hours and hours of audio books.
It is obvious that I have, too much time on my hands and apparently spend too much time studying my hands, because I have begun to notice that my pre surgery mani/pedi is way past its two week old expiration date.
Since I had shopped online for the April part of the WEBS 39th April/May Anniversary sale, and I have, thereby, added to my already substantial stash of yarn, I am desperately trying to hold back on my temptation to participate in the May part of the sale.

Not Me or My Amiga

 I finished a pair of socks and am now knitting Amiga designed by Mags Kandis.

Ross and I have become even more attached at the hip.
Yesterday, I decided it was time to venture out on my own.
Before Joe became ill, I was a member of  the Tuesday Morning Ladies Bowling league.
I left the league when Joe’s illness had progressed to the last stages.
After he passed away, the ladies tried to convince me that I should come back to bowling.  It would “do you some good” they said. “To get your mind off of things, you know” they said.
At the time, I thanked them for thinking of me but politely declined.  I was pretty sure that a few hours of bowling would not distract me from the pain of grief over the loss of my son.
It has been 17 months since Joe died.  I mostly now hide from the pain, kind of push it to the side.  It has become my way of coping with the life which, true to the cliche, “does go on".
But, yesterday, it being Tuesday morning and all, and me being just a little stir crazy and all, I thought a visit to the bowling alley might “do me some good.”
A little background on the ladies of the Tuesday Morning league.   When I started bowling with this league, about 8 years ago, I was still in my fifties and I was one of the younger women.
Although, at that time the majority of the women were in their mid 60’s, and a couple of the eldest ones were in their 80’s, they were a vibrant group.
I have not been to the bowling alley to visit since I quit the league a few years ago.
My memories of those Tuesday morning bowling sessions are noisy memories.
Each sound distinctly greeted me the moment I stepped through the double glass doors.
Practice was usually already in progress. Above the thunder of simultaneously thrown spheres, swiftly cruising (or okay, sometimes limping) their way down the boards, and over explosive cracks as ball met wood, were welcome shouts of “hi’s and how are you’s” .
As the games got under way, the racket seemed to get louder. There were high five slaps, cheers, hoots, and hollers for spares and strikes. Splits and near nine pin misses brought about foot stomping, and colorful expletives from the more bawdier women.
Voices had to be raised as the chatter of gossip, husband grievances, grandchildren stories and the how the days of the past week were spent could be barely heard above the din.
Growling, angry complaints were shouted when the alleys were too sticky or too slick.
A number of the women were knitters.  If you listened closely, you might have even been able to hear the click, clacking of needles as they worked on their latest projects as they waited for their turn to bowl.
Yesterday, I noticed it immediately, the moment I stepped through the double glass doors. The hush and quiet was, well, quite deafening.

At first I thought that I had the wrong day.  After all, the days seem to run into one another lately, and I have to frequently stop and think of what day it actually is.
The inside of the building was dimly lit and noticeably empty.  Presumably, Thunderbird Lanes was conserving on energy by providing necessary lighting on only the lanes being used.  When my eyes got adjusted to the low light,  I saw them, a handful of them, way down at the other end of the alleys.
As I walked up to where they were bowling, one or two of the women recognized me and waved.   I, on the other hand, only could identify a few of the women.
Erica, the league secretary, came up to me and greeted me warmly.
When I mentioned the quiet, she began to recite a linty of reasons why that was the case.
Over the years, it was obvious that time had taken its toll.
Sadly, now instead of happy animated conversation, tales of surgeries, forgetfulness,  injuries, illness and death have become more the norm, and spoken about in hushed tones.
She said that a lot of the members can no longer throw their balls with the same amount of strength as they once were able to.  The result is apparently reflected in lower scores and averages. She told me that each year the league has become smaller and smaller.
Most of the bowlers I used to bowl with have dropped out and it has become increasingly more difficult to find replacements.
Under five feet tall, with a petite frame, Erica is a tiny bit of a woman.  Her close cropped hair is still jet black and pixie cut.   Traces of her German heritage come through her speech.
Once a strong bowler, tossing a 14 pound ball without effort, it has become necessary for her to use a lighter ball.  Presently, she has been forced to sit on the sidelines, as a spectator, while she waits for her rotator cuff surgery to heal.
After Erica and I had spoken for a few minutes she gave me an intense look.  “Will you come back in September?” She asked.
Just then one of the women, Marie,  came up to Erica and told her that she would not be able to finish bowling. Her arm was hurting.  Marie was one of the women I bowled with.  She is not much taller than Erica with a full head of thick, snow white hair.   She glanced over at me and said, “Oh hi.  I didn’t recognize you.”  She wanted to know if I was going to be bowling next season.
Marie was there with her husband, Al.   Marie is a caregiver for him as he struggles through chemo treatments.
I watched as Marie and Al slowly made their way towards the double glass doors.  She trying to mange her bowling gear, purse and car keys, all the while steadying him.  He not able to help.
Erica asked me again if I would join the league and told me that they could really use me.
The image of Marie and Al still lingering in my mind,  I told Erica that I would think about it.
As I said my good-byes, another woman, Laurie, stopped me.  She told me I was missed and asked if I would please consider coming back.
Why do I hesitate with this decision?
Do the women of the Tuesday Morning Ladies League represent a futuristic mirror for me?  Am I seeing my not too distant reflection?
Or could I, shy me, be someone who could help breath back some of the life into, shed a small glimmer of light onto and perhaps even whoop up some noise again with the Tuesday Morning Ladies League?

Oh by the way, before I hit the double glass doors, Erica caught up with me.  She said, with that trace of her German heritage slipping in, “I have made a decision for you.  I put your name down.  You will be back in September!”


  1. A bowling group filled with knitters? Must find one of those in my area.

    1. It was neat to have two hobbies rolled into one.

  2. That is a tough one, Lynda. Really. I know I would be hesitating. It took courage to even go back there at all and then to note the changes? Sad. But, as you noted, perhaps you caught them on a worst than normal Tuesday. Perhaps another one or two players will come back becasue they heard you were back and the that will have that ripple effect and a couple more will come back and on and on. Or, maybe the group will be smaller and more intimate, simply recognizing that things change and making the situation as enjoyable (if different) as it was before. Again, I applaud your courage to step back in there. I'm not sure I could have.

    1. Hi JT!
      Most of these women are crazy about bowling. I was never obsessed with it. I tried to do the best I could, but competitively, I didn't care as much about what place we wound up in at the end of the season.
      It is sad to see the decline in health of these women. The ones who dropped out, did so because they physically cannot participate in this type of activity any longer.
      One of the women has Alzheimer's. She is probably in her 70's. Her daughter brings her every Tuesday. She may not remember who her daughter is, but she sure does remember how to bowl. She is one of the best in the league.
      If I decide to join up again, it will be for those women. They are the ones with the courage.