Life is a puzzle

Sherry Farrell

Here it is our Sunday morning together and we are back home. In most cases, no matter where you travel, near or far, there is no place like home.

Your own bed, refrigerator, for us coffee in the morning, I guess just our own routine. I think everything just fits better for us in the surroundings that we are all used to.

Kind of like a puzzle. Life is a true puzzle and I guess that's why my Dad started doing them years before he passed away. I always thought it was because he was a truck driver that worked nights and did his best to sleep during the day.

Looking back, it must have gotten lonely on his days off when my Mom and I were sleeping through the night and he was wide awake. Tough on a relationship, too. He would always have a puzzle going in his bedroom so he wouldn't disturb anyone else who was trying to sleep.

Back then, I thought puzzles were great, but boring. Why would anyone want to sit for hours trying to make little pieces fit into often smaller areas? Now I realize my Dad was on to something and he had no idea.

Studies have been done that show puzzles keep our minds sharp and can help with our short-term memory. They help us focus and force us to use the right and left side of our brain at the same time. Puzzles have always been found to help with anxiety and depression, too. They give us a feeling of accomplishing something.

I thought I just started doing them because I have a hard time sitting still. I like to watch TV, but I don't like the feeling that so much time passes, and I have nothing to show for it. Puzzles keep me busy and help me relax at the same time. You know that I also love that they can bring people together of all ages. You can find one piece that fits and walk away, or you can sit and find a couple more.

I like doing puzzles because they remind me of our lives. Each life is made up of so many different pieces, some fit perfectly and others we try to force. Each piece is made up of different shapes, sizes, edges and curves. It's fascinating that each and every day we are doing our best to make the pieces fit together and to work together. Some pieces seem to naturally fit with ease, and others are just a challenge we must walk away from for a while, moving on to other pieces that work. There is nothing boring about puzzles.

My intent last week was to call Hobby Town USA and tell them about my right box/wrong puzzle dilemma that surprised all of us. As the week passed, I decided it would be more fun to go in so that I could see the wonderful owners' reactions.

Saturday evening, Mackensie and I walked in with the puzzle box in hand. When I told them what happened, the look on their faces was precious! I didn't even have to ask, it was obvious this was a first for them, too! They opened the box right away and started looking for key pieces, colors, just as I did. Instead of the New Hampshire words like White Mountain, they found Arizona, New Jersey and lots of red, white and blue because this puzzle was a USA puzzle.

Now they had my New Hampshire puzzle on display right in front of the store. They picked my replacement out, but before giving it to me, they opened it and it appeared to be perfect.

While we were there, I decided to pick up some puzzle glue located in the back of the shop. My rule usually is to buy and complete one puzzle at a time. I sure didn't expect to walk out with two puzzles, but I couldn't resist this one — the 19th Amendment and the history of women's right to vote.

Elections and the words I say constantly, "Every vote counts," have become a huge part of my life. It is one of my greatest honors to uphold these rights of every person in our great country. Too many times it seems as though women have had the right to vote forever, but the 19th Amendment has only been with us 100 years. It as ratified on Aug. 20, 1920. My dad was born in May 1920 and that doesn't seem that long ago.

The other part we must remember is that not all women were permitted to vote. It wasn't until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that prohibited racial discrimination in voting. So, for the first 45 years, not all women had the right to vote. Can you imagine that in some of our southern states literacy tests were given before African-Americans, male or female, were permitted to vote? Some states even required a voter to recite the entire U.S. Constitution. It is our duty to learn from our past, embrace the improvements that were made, and to always look to the future for what we can do better.

Saturday evening, our president nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. It confirmed she will be the first working mother of school-aged children to hold this position. I think Ruth Bader Ginsburg would approve of her. We have come so far, but still have far to go.

It is our responsibility to do our best to make sure every piece is accounted for, has a place in the big picture, and that their individuality is acknowledged, embraced and accepted at all times. Together our perfectly imperfect pieces will do and create great things. Together, I believe we can solve any puzzle that comes our way.

Sherry Farrell is Londonderry Town Clerk and a longtime resident of New Hampshire.


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