Two of our grandchildren paid a visit recently during which I came to the frightening realization that there is a particular gene rearing its ugly head in the younger members of our extended family. At the beginning of their 10-day stay, I was taken aback one day when I noticed that our computer screen had an active Solitaire board on it. Then, I asked if anyone would be interested in trying out the new gelato place in downtown Newfane. “How about later?” was the astonishing answer.

I thought that very strange, but didn’t say anything. Then, the next day I observed the other granddaughter playing Free Cell. “How would you girls like to go to the outlet centers?” I said. “Maybe tomorrow,” was the reply. I knew we had a serious problem.

I remembered my mother playing card games by the hour. Of course she had no television and it seemed like a reasonable exercise to while away the brief interludes of peace and quiet in a family of nine. She had several different versions of the game and cheated regularly. In Solitaire the only person you can cheat is yourself. I can see her now, slapping the cards down in a particular rhythm.

When I lived in Germany as an Army wife, I had more than plenty of time on my hands as I cared for our two tiny rooms. One day someone left a deck of playing cards at our place and I found myself dealing a Solitaire hand as I had seen my mother do so many times. It didn’t take long before I was hooked.

Several years ago, one of my brothers suggested that he teach me to play Free Cell on the computer. He warned me it might be addictive and eventually I probably wouldn’t thank him for it. He was right on both counts.

Just to illustrate the popularity of the game, he pointed out the people you see all over the airports, hunched over their computers. “They’re not working,” he said, “They’re playing Free Cell.” So, the next time I was killing time waiting for a flight, I walked around and looked over the shoulders of those who seemed so intent on their laptops. Sure enough, Free Cell!

I discovered a daily crossword puzzle when I looked up a “Games” link in the AARP magazine. There are different levels of difficulty so the challenge is whatever you want it to be. There’s Sudoku too, although I never could quite get into it. Even when one of my children presented me with “Sudoku for Dummies.”

I have an on-line game of Scrabble going with another of my offspring. A game can go on for days if you don’t respond regularly. Of course, he’s running his own business in New York and I’m sitting on the deck of our house in Vermont.

But, if the current magazines for the older population are correct, computer games are a tool with which to ward off Alzheimers. If that’s true, I’m home free with the memory thing. I love computer games.