Your Bittersweet Memories
Caleb Bunch
United States
Massapequa
New York
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I recently wrote a post in the forums about the bittersweet memories that can accompany gaming. I will list that post as the top entry in this Geeklist. Several people have reached out to me to inform me that it has been a blessing/encouragement to them as they think through their own precious memories of lost loved ones.

Some have requested that I create a Geeklist in order to allow others to post the games and write out the circumstances surrounding their own bittersweet memories.

I hope this is uplifting for you. Thank you for reading and contributing to the conversation. It is truly part of the reason I love BGG.

[You can find the original forum post and all of the beautiful, beloved memories listed here: Bittersweet Memories
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1. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:613] [Average Rating:7.05 Unranked]
Board Game: Cribbage
Caleb Bunch
United States
Massapequa
New York
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When a loved one passes away, it can have strange effects on those who remain. There are some activities, hobbies, and games that I only enjoyed doing with one person. When that person passes, that game or activity is forever changed as well. For example. I used to fish with my grandfather. It was a regular pass time that we enjoyed together. He passed away 12 years ago, but I could never bring myself to fish without him. That is, until my son asked me out of the blue, so we out with my father and my son, three generations failing to catch elusive bass.

I used to play certain card and board games with people who have now passed away, and I also find that I have a very emotional response when I play or am even invited to play those games. I associate the game so closely to the individual that even the mention of the game elicits deep sentiments.

While these games bring back good memories, they also carry with them the sadness of knowing that the other player is no longer with me. My best friend died of a brain tumor when he was 21. I got the call at 4:15am on Thanksgiving. We usually played card games the day after Thanksgiving with a small group of friends: Heart, Spades, Cribbage, Pitch, Poker, Rummy, Egyptian Rats, and even Spoons. All of those games have changed for me since he passed.

I don't really know why I am sharing, but I was struck by just how deeply I associate certain games with the memories of precious people. Now that I have four children, I hope I am creating very sweet memories that they will always hold dear.
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2. Board Game: Alien [Average Rating:5.44 Overall Rank:16470]
Board Game: Alien
Erik Syvertsen
United States
Denver
CO
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My parents didn't let us watch movies like Alien, but for some reason they bought this game and we had great fun playing it on weekend nights for a long time. It is also the only board game I remember my father playing with us.

My father died last year and my mother is now in a memory care assisted living facility, diagnosed with dementia. A while ago I thought about getting this game for nostalgia reasons, but now I realize I never will.
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3. Board Game: Revolution! [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1229]
Board Game: Revolution!
Colin Baker
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Played this game with my small brother and sister at a boardgamefair we went together. They really enjoyed it so I brought the game for them.

A few years later my little sister came at my door if I would testify against my dad for domestic violence. Child support got her out of my parents house without a trial but the game and my brother are still there and I haven't seen my little brother in years.

This game reminds me of what is was to be with my brothers and sisters. Writing this reminds me I should call my little sister to come and play Pandemic with me.
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4. Board Game: Fireball Island [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:2911]
Board Game: Fireball Island
Thursday42
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My dad was a big proponent of family game night, and his favourite by far was the original Fireball Island. I have to admit it wasn't exactly my favourite (even as a kid I could tell there was too much random BS)

He passed away unexpectedly a few years ago, and the thing I wanted most to remember him by was our copy of Fireball. It now sits proudly in the centre of my collection, together with the Restoration Games version.

When the revamped version was announced, the guys at Restoration Games were very active on BGG, so I contacted them and asked if it might be possible for them to have an option in the Kickstarter to name a component or something after someone. They didn't want to open that up as a public option, but they did, generously, offer to do so in my case. If you look at your copy of the Last Adventurer expansion, you'll notice on the back of the player power cards that all of them are from "O'Shea's Gift Shop." That's my dad.

A fitting tribute, I hope, to the guy who taught me that games are about more than winning and losing. They're also about blasting your opponents with red-hot fireballs (even if they're your eight-year-old son).
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5. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:238] [Average Rating:7.27 Unranked]
Board Game: Small World
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
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We'd play Small World when I was back in town on vacation - me, my two brothers, couple of friends. My one brother (the middle of 5 siblings, I'm oldest) at the end of every game would say "Fuck, I love that game." Often we'd just set it up and play it again.

He's been dead for over 5 years now, way way too young. I still like Small World. Whenever I play it, I think of it as a small tribute to him, a memorial.
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6. Board Game: Proteus [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:5825]
Board Game: Proteus
My friend Mark loved Chess. All kinds of chess...the odder the better. I still have the copy he gave me, and the copy I found in his games he left to me when he passed away. With two copies you can play “regular” chess, but he would probably like it more if we played the variant.

I have taught my kids chess, but don’t get out Proteus very often. Whenever I do I think of Mark. You can read more about my friend HERE. Miss you, brother.
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7. Board Game: Can't Stop [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:711]
Board Game: Can't Stop
Jack K
United States
Shorewood
Wisconsin
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Over the years, due to the almost 4,000 miles between us, I didn't see my Dad for more than a couple of weeks a year, but he loved to come visit (or for me to visit him). He liked to play (traditional) card games, and I decided to try to introduce him to a few games which were simple and fun.

This was his favourite, by far. He would actually ask if we could play it (fortunately Mum liked it too). Eventually I even took them a copy when I visited them, and they would play it with friends all the time.

Dad died about a year and a half ago, and I haven't played this since then - simply due to having a large backlog of games to play, not some great sadness. In fact, I always smile and think of those fun times playing it with him whenever I see it.
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8. Board Game: Word Yahtzee [Average Rating:4.97 Overall Rank:18978]
Board Game: Word Yahtzee
Carol Carpenter
United States
Boston
Massachusetts
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My love of games comes from my Dad. We used to play Scrabble, Mastermind, Clue, Word Quest (his favorite, he called it "the Tony Randall game"), chess, blackjack, and other pencil-and-paper games he taught me.

But the one I most associate with him is Word Yahtzee. He and I played it so many times.

I love and own many word games, but I don't have this one because it would probably make me too sad, as he died many years ago.
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9. Board Game: Skip-Bo [Average Rating:5.45 Overall Rank:19007]
Board Game: Skip-Bo
Marty "TIRED" Malone
United States
Mansfield
Texas
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Really great idea for a list. Thank you.

My grand mother was the sweetest lady on this planet. I am grateful that she made it to my wedding.

I have some of her old recipes with her scribbles of who was coming and how much to make. They are treasured items.

Skip Bo was her game and we played it 100's of times in my lifetime and she was a viscous competitor and never let a grand kid win. We had to earn it and when we won it was a celebration.

She died in 03 and I still miss her. I wish she could have known my kids.

Whenever I play skip bo it is a fond memory and I always share those stories with my kids about my grand mother whom they never met but through my stories of time there and the food she cooked that they have all sampled.

Thanks for this thread.
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10. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.28 Overall Rank:1754] [Average Rating:6.28 Unranked]
From gallery of theTREE
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I can think of nothing better than spending time and building memories with those you care about.

When my grandmother passed away, quite some years ago, the only thing I wanted (and the only thing I took) from her estate was the Scrabble board. And there it is, pride of place in my collection, the 1977 "Selchow & Righter" Deluxe Edition in it's plain blue box. I had it even when I had no other games.
That was what I wrote in the thread that inspired this list. Below I have added more to why it was important to me, bit by bit, between the memories.

My first real introduction to games, at least games that weren't activity games for small children, was at my paternal grandmothers side. She was very much the matriarch of the family, everything of consequence was run by her first. She couldn't have had more education than a year or two of high school, I don't know for sure because it never mattered, because she was respected by everyone she came across and loved by anyone who came close to her. She was also good at games, and definitely very good at "her" games. She played card games with adults that I couldn't follow, and, but for luck of the draw, would most often win. She taught me how to enjoy jigsaw puzzles, and the mechanics behind the games and puzzles in the "Jumbo Crossword and Puzzle" books from the supermarket, and how to read pulp novels and old sc-fi/fantasy paperbacks with the enthusiasm they require. And we played games like Yahtzee and Canasta and Chinese Checkers and, most importantly, we played Scrabble. Scrabble was "our" game. Almost no one else would play her. Not her friends or her sons and barely ever the older grand kids. I was little when we started, I don't know what age, before my memories, but I can remember being 9 and playing. And 10 and playing. And 11, and 12, and a teenager, and a young adult and playing. When I was nine I couldn't beat her, not even close, not even if I drew lucky and got all the bonus word scores in all the right ways. But she didn't "let kids win", she didn't let anyone off like that. Instead, she would bring the dictionary out at every game and every time I thought "I might have a great a word if only I could just figure it out" she would have me get some idea of what I wanted in my head and then I could quickly look once, and just once, in the dictionary to find what was just beyond my thinking. In that way I could find the elusive word or discover a new one, and I could play that word, if I learned it and if I used it after having read it. And, if it fit naturally in what we were saying, we would use that word the rest of the night. Like it was our sly joke on those who didn't "get" the fun we had playing Scrabble. Several times I would even be asked about it at our next meeting. "What was that word you scored so well against me in Scrabble?", she would say, often to be overheard, almost but not quite a brag, to the other grandchildren. I learned many new words, never the “trick” Scrabble words often used but real words. Some I didn't hang on to, elusive things. I do wish I had a list. But what I really learned was effort, and persistence, and the ability to reference, and the joy of learning something new. Mostly I learned about spending time in meaningful ways. That it is possible to spend time where there may be some "thing" in-between you and the other person but it is there not to separate you but to connect you. I was fortunate to have something like that with my paternal grandfather as well, our time in the garage and at his "shop" was special and gave me my trade today, but with Grandma it was Scrabble.

When it came time to deal with estate matters, with people signing things and looking for items and describing property and investments, I wasn't interested in any of that, other than to be disappointed by the behaviors of some. I know now that there was a lot more I might have insisted upon, but it didn't matter, and although it could have made some of the intervening "life" easier on me, really still doesn't matter. I took the Scrabble game and walked away.

Her death was a shock to me. She died in hospital. Someone thought it a good idea to tell the grandkids that it wouldn't be a long stay. So I visited twice, casually, never saying anything I would have had I known it was serious. She had given me a note about a month before her hospital stay. She used to regularly write notes. Little throw away pick-me-ups or acknowledgments. But this one I kept. I have it, for many years now, locked away with all my important papers. I had to lock it away. Not only because it is valuable to me, but because sometimes it would be too much if I just happened across it. And I want it to be that way, so I also lock it away to keep it from being too familiar. So in amongst my Social Security card and birth certificate and house deed and all the rest is a little handwritten note. "I love you, I miss you, Be happy."

----------------

I now, from time to time, play Scrabble with my little one. It isn’t necessarily “our” game, but I start each game by getting out the dictionary and look forward to my saplings’ anticipation of getting to use it to learn something new and do just a bit better.
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11. Board Game: The Business Game [Average Rating:5.88 Overall Rank:10539]
Board Game: The Business Game
Philip Knight
United Kingdom
Newbury
Berkshire
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My uncle Eric introduced me to this game (in i think the seventies) and I obsessed about until my parents bought it for me for christmas that year. Eric was a complex character with plenty of faults but I regret not knowing him better. He and my aunt had an awful experience with their own children who died young of a degenerative disease and I feel I should have been more attentive nephew to them. The Business Game blew my mind and I shall never forget the memory of playing it for the very first time. Thanks Eric.
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