October 01, 2022 3 min read 1 Comment
photo: Judy Smith (far left) and Linda Kendrick (second from left) don't stay home much. There is always a shuffleboard tournament, or a workout to get them out the door.
By Ray Glier
WARNER-ROBINS, Ga.____It used to be easy to find grandmother. No one had to guess. No one had to hunt. There she was, sure as white on rice. Linda Kendrick said her grandmother was always in front of the TV.
But with Linda, it is always a hunt, always a guess where she is. This grandmother—make that great grandmother—has fast feet and a lot of ambition. Where is she now? Shuffleboard tournament? Bowling? At the rec working out?
“My grandchildren," said Kendrick, 72, "make bets with each other whether I’m home, or not. They really do.
“I don’t sit still. I am not that grandmother. I go home to sleep, that’s it.”
Linda and her friend, Judy Smith, 73, are here for the Shuffleboard championships of the Georgia Golden Olympics. As soon as they won a gold medal in the 70-74 age division Thursday they started plotting their next trip, which is to Alabama in a few weeks for another shuffleboard tournament.
Society created an identity for Linda and Judy, and women in their 70s, and they are smashing it to bits.
They both have a steely gaze down the shuffleboard lane, the likes of which women in their 70s are not expected to have. They are sweet people except for shuffleboard where they sorta kinda have a competitive streak. They come to win. They manage their emotions, except when they see an opponent trying to collect points. Then they use their cues to obliterate the disc the opponent has unwisely slid into scoring position.
“I’ll slam them out of the way, yes I will,” Judy says. “I mean, I’ll be nice about it.”
Nice and sweet…to a point.
“It’s a strategy game,” Judy said. She smiles and delivers the punchline. “It makes you use your mind before you lose it.”
Judy and Linda met each other on a van ride down to these Georgia Golden Olympics in 2018. Linda was a bowler. Judy did the shot put. They hit it off and, each being reasonably athletic, they became shuffleboard partners in 2019 and competed in Albuquerque at The National Senior Games.
When they have to compete against each other in the individual 70-74 age bracket, they are still friends. At the Georgia Golden Olympics in 2021, Linda won gold. This year, Judy won gold.
It’s been a big year for the friends. They celebrated in the spring because Judy took a bronze in the National Senior Games in Ft. Lauderdale in May. Thursday they each qualified for the 2023 National Senior Games in Pittsburgh. They sooooo like those road trips.
Linda starts to talk about her friend’s national third-place finish in Ft. Lauderdale…and the phone rings. It is a great-grand daughter. She is sobbing. “I poked myself in the lip” she tells Linda.
“Baby, I love you, but I can’t talk to you right now,” Kendrick said. She hangs up on the child.
“She’ll be fine,” Linda says with a smile. She really is not that grandma.
The friends work out three times a week with weights and water aerobics at a rec center in south Atlanta. They have to stay fit… there is soooo much more to do these days than sit in front of the TV.
Copyright © 2022 Ray Glier
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