Back to Mike Wise

From: Gene Rawlins <gener@netrover.com>
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 1998 09:48:14 -0400
Subject: Mike Wise - Wanna Game?
Message-id: <35C7111D.B0F5D846@netrover.com>

Final respects were paid to our late Director, Mike Wise, in a moving and touching ceremony at Temple Emanu-el in Toronto last Sunday afternoon.

The Rabbi was eloquent in recounting the highlights of Mike's multi-faceted life, including his ardent participation in the games he truly loved such as baseball, bridge, tennis and of course, Scrabble.

Oh yes - Scrabble! The Rabbi expounded on two scrabble-related incidents in Mike's life, which were poignant in describing the wonderful relationship between Mike and his lovely wife Lynda and the immense part scrabble has played in their lives. As a scrabbler, and an admirer of Mike, these incidents touched me deeply, and I shall take the liberty of repeating them here with the hope that Lynda and the family do not mind.

Over three decades ago, at the University of Toronto Campus, the paths of two undergraduates crossed and were forever thereafter, intertwined. One was a scrabble enthusiast who bragged that he had never lost a game. A bystander heard the rantings of this boastful, bushy tailed, bingo elitist and undaunted by his self-portrait of perfection, challenged him to a game. She promptly proceeded to demolish him with her dazzling display of word knowledge. The couple was Mike and Lynda, and thus was born the greatest scrabble love story of all time!

Fast forward thirty odd years...after tens of thousands of scrabble games together.Mike is putting up a brave and valiant fight for his life, his body ravished by the insidious illness which has rendered him immobile. Lynda and the family are constantly at his bedside. In between rest periods, Mike would get a spark in his eyes, look up at Lynda and gathering all his strength, would ask,

"Wanna game?"

Lynda, with a corresponding spark in her eyes honed by more than thirty years of practice, would enthusiastically reply, "Sure!"

From the beginning to the end, second only to their undying love for each other, scrabble was the bond between this remarkable couple. Even in their darkest moments, scrabble brought rainbows of light into their lives.

One can only be amused at the humor displayed by our fellow scrabblers even in the face of major adversity. In the early stages of his illness, Mike would joke that all he needed to get well was a win for the Blue Jays in their series with Montreal. Fortunately, Toronto won; unfortunately, Mike didn't. When Mike was tragically deprived of mobility as his illness progressed, he used to joke that at the next Montreal-Toronto Scrabble Championship rivalry in the fall, both Directors, he and Bernard Gotlieb would be in wheelchairs. Mike and Bernard were great scrabble buddies, a friendship forged many years ago when Mike, having learned that a scrabbler was in hospital in Toronto, paid Bernard an unannounced visit. Our prayers also go out to Bernard who is also bravely fighting his private battle, but with his biting sense of humor intact: "I almost had a heart attack when the doctor told me I had had a heart attack." !!!

I can picture it now. Mike is received in heaven and meets The Almighty, who knows all there is to know about the game of scrabble. Undaunted by His omniscience, Mike looks Him straight in the eye and says, "Wanna game?"

Way to go, Mike! Have a good game!

-Such is the course ordained by Fate-

Gene Rawlins
Toronto, Canada