December 10, 2019

“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”


“Hi, Maga!”

“Who is it, please?”

“It’s Abby,” I shouted into the phone with a sinking feeling it was going to be one of those conversations. I put on a kettle of water so I could soothe my throat post phone call and settled in. “How was your day?!” I continued at the same excessive volume.

“A cold, busy day.”

“For me too. Busy.”

“What did you do?”

“I went to work and it. was. hectic!!”

“And then what?”

“That was the majority of the day. Now I’m home relaxing.”

“You went where?”

“I’m at home.”

“What was the majority?”

“At work. Now I’m done with that. What are YOU doing?” I asked in an attempt to turn the tide of this conversation.

“I’m putting photos in an album.”

“Oh, what fun! Who’s in the photos?”


“What are your pictures of?” I said slowly and as clearly as possible.

“Where were they taken?” Maga asked.


“These are from Alaska. Uncle D and Aunt C just went there you know.”

“I didn’t know. Those must be beautiful photos! What else is in the album?”

“Things from this year. I like to keep up to date with my albums.”

“I bet you do. So, what else do you have?”

“Things from this year.”

“Any from Africa?”

“Oh sure. I see S and F here.”

(Reader, S and F were not in Africa. I decided to go with the flow instead.) “How lovely. They’re so nice to visit with you.”

“Oh dear.”

“What’s up?”

“I’m so confused.”

“By your photographs?”


“Do you need to concentrate on them?”


“Would you like me to hang up?”


And just like that, she turned off the faucet entirely. (The water metaphor. I’m sticking with it.)

Don’t ever confuse my grandmother with someone who doesn’t know what she wants. Seems that she’d rather spend time with photos of people than on the phone, but you know what, if it makes her happy, I’m going to let her be. She’s earned that much in 98 years and 8 months.


December 2, 2019

“Hello?” Maga said. “Who’s this?”

“It’s Abby.”


“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Can you hear me?”

“Yes! Hi! It’s Abby?”

I could hear the scuffling noises of Maga’s caregiver and Maga narrated the scene, “My caregiver’s putting my hearing aid in…Is it in? Can I talk?”

“Hi Maga. Can you hear me now?”

This went on for longer than anticipated. And nearly negated my reason for calling tonight instead of the usual Tuesday.

“Is it Tuesday?” Maga asked.

“No. It’s Monday, but I’m coming down with a cold and I’m not sure how my voice will be tomorrow.”


“A cold. I’m getting sick. I’m not feeling well.”

“Oh no!” she said. “That’s the pits. Are you home now?”

“Yes. How was your Thanksgiving?”

“It was alright. I didn’t see my visitors that long, but it was alright. Where were you?”

“I was at [Sister J’s].”

“All her kids came home, then.”

“Uh.” Seeing as they’re 9, 7, and 4, they didn’t have far to go to get home…clearly Maga’s memory and hearing weren’t top notch today, but the idea of [Sister J’s] kids having to come home for the holidays nearly blew my own mind apart. It’s like we were talking in the present about the future. “Yeah, sure.”

“They were working together to get food on the table?”

“Uh. Yeah, sure.”


“Actually, the girls did help [Sister E] with the pies.”

I asked Maga some other question that she couldn’t hear and that my poor voice couldn’t handle. At this rate, I’m going to give myself laryngitis just by having this conversation at such a decibel. She made some vague noise signaling she had no idea what I said. She took the conversation reigns back.

“You’re going to [Sister J’s] for Christmas?”

“No. My parents’ house.”


“My parents’.”

“Who’s that?”


“Oh, your mom and dad.”


“Where do they live?”


“What town?”

I said it 4 times to a response of “what?” each time. I didn’t know how else to say it and my voice was reaching a tone only dogs could hear… “It’s the same town they’ve lived in for 25 years.”

“Oh. I guess I didn’t know that. Well, what did you do today?”

“I went to work and shoveled some snow and…”


“To work.”


“To work. To my job. To the office.”

“Oh, your job. It’s Monday. Of course that’s where you were.”

Our usual chemistry was marred by my impending illness and her hearing and I believe the conversation was as frustrating for her as it was for me, and so she took advantage of “the changing of the guard” as an opportunity to end the conversation with me.

I was equal parts offended and impressed. She still has some social decorum in there although the reasoning for needing it is way more obvious than in her heyday. Either way, I’ll take any lesson I can get from her. Tonight’s being that an illness ridden 38yo voice isn’t compatible with a 98yo’s hearing.

Here’s hoping for a more uplifting lesson next week.


November 26, 2019

“My caregiver asked me if I’d heard from you,” Maga said.

“And here I am.”

“Are you doing anything fun?”

“I’m in Virginia.”

“You’re down at the beginning?”

I never expected to have her confused by the state that shares her name, but this blog isn’t called “my mumbling stuff” for no reason…

We then covered which family members we each were getting to see for Thanksgiving, grateful our words were audible and our livings rooms full.


November 19, 2019

“You’ll never guess who’s sitting in my living room,” Maga said.

“My parents!!”

“Yes. You got it. Your parents are here.”

“Guess who’s sitting in my living room?” I said.

Maga chuckled in that way where I knew she hadn’t heard me. *muffled off-screen talking* “She says you should be sitting in her living room.”

It’s not what I was going to say, but she’s right in that I was going to make a joke. I was going to point out that no one was in my living room with me, but her take on it was just as good. It was definitely more light-hearted than self-deprecating.

And then she put Mom on the phone, which was nice since I hadn’t caught up lately with my mom and it’s been a helluva week. Sometimes you just want to talk to your mom. Even grandmothers seem to know it, too.


November 12, 2019

“It was not a very interesting day,” Maga said, “but you take it as it comes.”

“You know, that’s true. My day was also not exciting.”



This conversation echoed up and down and around and around a shocking number of times.

“Anything interesting happen…” Maga searched for a word, a thought. I waited to see what she would say because I needed a break from the monotony. “…like did you get any mail?”

You know she had a point. Mail is exciting, well, when it’s not junk mail. And today, I had received some mail in the form of a package containing a lamp. The lamp I was currently using was from two apartments ago and just doesn’t fit with the layout of my bedroom/outlet situation. Basically, I have to shimmy to the edge of my bed, balance there, wind my hand up and under the lampshade, and twist my hand into awkward contortions bumping up against the wires of the lampshade to reach the knob to turn the light on. It’s a lot to ask of me in the morning.

All of which is to say the mail today contained a simple bedside lamp with a pull cord! A pull cord! So genius. I mean I can’t even wait to wake up tomorrow morning! Or, before that, go to bed! Did I mention the part where I used some of the cardboard box it arrived in to level out the top of my bedside table (thank you old house with uneven floors)…umm, where was I?

If only I could explain all that to Maga without starting and stopping 1,200 times to enunciate and speak up and repeat myself.

“The days must be working right,” Maga said a little bit later.

“Hmmm,” I said.

“If you understand what that means. I’m not sure I do.”

“Sometimes it’s a mystery how the days work, but we take it as it comes.”