Bowled Over

With the concentration of a swimmer on the high dive, Missy studies the pins on the far end of the alley.

Sets down her ball.


Slowly, slowly, the brilliant pink bowling ball wanders down the lane, angling off one bumper, then another. Finally, it reaches the far end, carefully tapping over pins as it meanders.

“Nice shot, Miss!”

Missy gets out to the bowling alley about once a week, with a group of other disabled adults. It’s never enough. Among the handful of words she speaks on a daily basis, four of them are always “I wan’ go bowling.”

Heather and I are generally glad to oblige when the day comes around. OK, more than oblige. We’re thrilled. It’s a little like watching Missy dance: caught up in something she loves,  something she can do for herself without much more than an arm to lean on as she walks up for her turn.

She’s not a bad bumper-bowler, either. In fact, her top score so far of 108 obliterates a lot of my games. Even a more normal game can be an interesting experience – her rolls lack the force that would create more strikes, but their slow wandering means they sometimes curve among the pins and pick up splits that a more forceful bowler would miss.

“Way to go! Next time, we’ll have that spare …”

Her birthday gift this year was a ball of her own, pink swirled with white. On unwrapping it, Missy held it aloft like the Holy Grail; there was even a beam of sunlight to give it a soft glow.

Behold the champion!

I don’t get to go often, because of my work hours. I enjoy it when I do. Because not only is the bowling trip good for Missy, it’s good for me, too.

Part of it any parent or guardian could understand: the shared joy of watching someone you care for do something they love. But part of it, in Missy’s case, almost reaches the level of silent instruction.

She thinks before each shot. She doesn’t hurry. She’s willing to wait, even as it seems like the ball will never get there. And after its slow crooked path achieves something – whether zero pins or 10 – she’s ready to get up and do it all again.

Not the worst model for life in an often hurried world.

Or for the guardian for a wonderful, unusual lady.

“I wan’ go bowling.”

As soon as we can, Missy. I promise.

For this sort of thing, there’s always time to spare.

One Reply to “Bowled Over”

  1. Scott once again you have achieved capturing and so beautifully so, the essense of Melissa.
    Thank you! From her big brother

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