It has long been my wish to write this story and begin by announcing I have, at last, beaten Brad at chess. That is not the case.  For more than two years, Brad and I have played chess on-line. It is called Chess by Post, and I have yet to win a game. I don’t even know what winning at chess feels like. I have never won a chess game with anyone. Brad is patient with me and apparently not bored. He and his wife, Cheryl, moved from Gainesville to South Carolina and he still stays in touch, and still beats me at chess. When he is in Gainesville, he comes to visit me. I will try to explain our relationship.

Our paths first crossed when Brad frequently visited his parents, Bob and Rose Morgan, who lived next door to me in my current home in The Villages of West End. I moved to this house in December 1992, which means I probably met Brad in 1993, twenty-five years ago. I was sixty-three and had just lost a son to HIV.

Brad started doing some jobs around the house and yard for me, simple things like trimming tree branches, or hanging a mirror, or installing a bird feeder. Pretty soon he was assembling furniture or answering computer questions. That morphed into his giving advice on what computer, keyboard, mouse, or scanner I should buy, then helping me place the order on-line. When the new electronic equipment arrived, Brad would install it and show me how to use it. In the meantime, he was installing ceiling fans and ceiling light fixtures, and building me a compost pile. He brought large rocks to block the tunnel an armadillo had dug under my house.

I kept a supply of twenty dollar bills in my wallet and paid Brad from that. After each job, I made a rough estimate on how many hours he had worked, made a guess as to appropriate compensation, and rounded up to the next twenty. It was very non-precise. He was likely underpaid at times and overpaid at others. We were casual about payment, but both were comfortable with the results.

Brad sometimes went with me to my husband’s hangar in Suwannee County to work on his computer. That involved some side trips into Lake City to buy a mother board and other computer parts.

Because Brad’s parents lived next door to me, I gradually got acquainted with his wife, Cheryl, and their two daughters. We became closer, and I was included in many of their family events — weddings, baby showers, graduations, and Cheryl’s celebratory dinner on earning her PhD.  When my husband, Mac, died, I called Brad and Cheryl next after first calling my children.

A few weeks after Mac’s death, Brad went with me to the hangar and drove Mac’s Jaguar S Type-R sedan back to my house and parked it in my garage for safer keeping. Throughout all this, Brad continued, with endless patience, to solve my computer problems, replaced a bathroom faucet, installed a new flexible shower head, and bought and installed a new toilet seat.

When the Jaguar was due for a free service, Brad drove me, in the Jaguar, to the dealership in Jacksonville where Mac had bought the car. Brad and I hung out together in the nearby mall while the Jag was being serviced.

Somewhere along the line, we started playing Words with Friends together. Unlike my poor history in chess, I can occasionally beat Brad at Words with Friends. Words are easier for me than chess strategy.

In 2014, when my stiff knees required a car higher off the ground than my little Acura hatchback, I bought a Honda CRV and sold the Acura to Brad and Cheryl for their fifteen year old granddaughter, Hannah. Sadly, she totaled it.

Brad eventually retired from his supervisory maintenance job at University of Florida Housing. He sold their Gainesville family home, and moved to Conway, SC where Cheryl is on the faculty of Coastal Carolina University. Both his parents have long since passed away after lengthy stays in care-taking facilities. I watched Brad handle multiple stressful responsibilities. He relieved much of his excess tension by teasing me unmercifully about having a “boyfriend.

The crux of it is, Brad and I became fast friends. I relied on him for many things, and he never let me down. Brad is close in age to my two sons, Eric and Casey, so ours was not a romantic relationship, though I teased him flirtatiously just to watch him react. What a nice guy! A perfect gentleman, with a sharp wit. 

On my iPad, the game Chess by Post, keeps a record of wins and losses, the opponent’s name, and the date of each win or loss. According to their record, my chess history with Brad began on May 6, 2016 and shows I have fifty-four losses to “baddadbrad.”  No wins. My excuse is that I started learning chess at age eighty-six. I have never physically touched a chess piece. And much as I hate to admit it, Brad is just smarter than I am.  

Maybe the question should be why Brad continues playing this game with me. What does he get out of it? Perhaps because he is kindhearted and patient, he likes to help entertain a feeble old lady. Or, because he is full of the devil he likes to keep me frustrated. Or, he likes flirting with the remote danger that I might, some day, actually beat him! That is one of my two goals to achieve by age ninety next year.   

Goal #1 is to publish a book of memoir stories. 

Goal #2 is to beat Brad at chess. 


I like to think both are doable, but if I had to pick one, I would likely puff up and gloat more after beating Brad at chess. I have thirteen more months to work on it!


September, 2018


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