Northeast November My Turn
Putting it together
A former attorney finds new challenges completing jigsaw puzzles.
Over the last seven years, Douglas Franchot has explored every facet of the French countryside and visited a host of castles in Austria. All without a passport.
The 87-year-old retired attorney spends his free time pouring over jigsaw puzzles. And there’s nothing so satisfying, he says, as the moment when that last piece settles into place.
“They say,” Franchot says, “that you can’t worry and ride a bicycle at the same time. Well, you can’t worry and do jigsaw puzzles at the same time, either.
“It’s a very nice pastime,” he adds, “which has become addictive.”
Franchot’s passion for puzzles began shortly after he moved into The Weils, a senior living community in Chagrin Falls.
And, he adds with a chuckle, what started out as a solitary hobby quickly became a communal effort, as his neighbors began stopping by to lend a hand. That camaraderie continues today.
“It’s a very social activity,” Franchot says. “There’s a sense of fellowship and cooperation as we all work together on puzzles ranging from 500 to 1,500 pieces.”
Staff members also enjoy filling in the gaps. “We have one nurses aid who works on whatever the current puzzle is after her shift ends,” he says. “She finds it very relaxing.”
Relaxing — yet daunting at times.
“Sometimes it can get a little too challenging,” Franchot admits, “especially when the image lacks definition, graphic content or distinct color. When there’s too much sky, grass or ocean, for example, it’s hard to determine what goes where.”
As with anything in life, when frustration mounts, the best thing to do is take a break.
“I sit down,” Franchot says, “take a deep breath and read the paper.”
Many of the 50 or so puzzles he’s completed line the walls of the community’s 4,000-volume library.
As Franchot painstakingly finishes his latest masterpiece — a panoramic view of the Swiss Alps — and glues each piece onto fiberboard to prepare it for hanging, he marvels at how striking the finished picture will be.
“I enjoy beautiful pictures,” he says, “and when you do the puzzles, it’s almost as good as a painting. Once it’s hung, if you stand back 8 or 9 feet, it really is hard to tell the difference from the real thing.
“It makes,” Franchot adds, “a very attractive representation of the original work of art.”