11.25.20

November 24, 2020

“And where are you?” Maga asked, as she always does.

“I’m at my mom’s house in [State].”

“Oh, yes.”

“You know it well, don’t you? You grew up here.”

“I didn’t grow up in [Same State].”

“You didn’t?”

“No.”

Now we were a pair of confused ladies. Her because 99yo memory. Me because 39yo memory. Who had the facts?

“Well, you were born here, right?” I asked.

“Yes. I was born in [State]. As I got older, I started going to school in [State]. What else did I do in [State]? I went to a lot of school. What did you do in [State]?”

“I went to high school here.”

“Oh yes. I know [State] well. I kind of grew up there.”

Me, nodding. “Yes, yes. I thought so.”

“Where are you right now?” Maga asked.

“I’m in [State].”

“[State]. I know about that state. I was born and raised there.”

Me, triumphantly punched the air. “I thought so.”

All during this conversation, there was chewing and rattling and clattering of things on the other end. As usual, it was dinnertime there. “Oh,” she said. “This is a cookie. I like cookies. Always have.”

Well, there’s something we both agree on with complete clarity and without name-dropping [State] again.

11.17.20

November 17, 2020

“I think it’s one of my granddaughters,” Maga said, her voice progressively getting louder as the telephone was handed to her. “Hello?”

“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Hi, Abby dear. How did we start this conversation tonight?”

“I called you.”

“What day is today?”

“Tuesday.”

“Do you normally call on Tuesdays?”

“I do.”

“Oh, I didn’t remember that.”

“That’s okay. Your memory’s not as young as it once was. It’s 99!”

“I’m ninety…” her voice trailed off as she contemplated how old she was. “I’ll be 99?”

“You already are.”

“I’ll be 100? When’s my birthday?”

“March.”

“Where are you?”

“My apartment.”

“Who’s with you?”

“No one.”

“I mean who’s visiting you?”

“No one’s allowed to visit right now.”

“What did you do today,” she asked in what was beginning to feel like an interrogation.

“Worked. Ate food. Walked. Boring,” I said.

“What?”

“I did some work. Made some meals for myself.”

“You cooked for your son?”

“Myself.”

“Do you have any children?”

“No.”

“No girls or boys?”

“No. Do you have any children?” I asked, testing this wobbly memory of hers.

“Yes. 4.”

She was quiet. Was it my turn to interrogate her? She sighed, long and low.

“What’s up?” I said.

“I’m trying to think what’s up.”

“What did you have for dinner?” It’s easiest if I stick to the present.

“Chicken and, hmm, what else was on that plate?”

“What it good?”

“It was edible.”

That was a good way to describe this Tuesday. It was there. It happened. Nothing notable. Nothing terrible. And sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

“Well, Maga. I’m going to let you go,” I said after she’d given me the play by play of the geico commerical, the all state commercial, and the tennis match she had on.

“Until next Tuesday,” she said.

11.10.20

November 10, 2020

“I’m just back from dinner,” Maga said.

“What did you have?” I asked.

“We were filled up with turkey and all the things.”

“Oh, yum. That sounds great!”

“Is your living room on?”

“Umm, my what?”

“Oh, you know what I mean. The tv with all the stories and taking up time and so on.”

“That’s the most accurate description of a tv I’ve ever heard.”

“What?” Maga said.

“No, I don’t have the tv on right now.”

There was some cross talk between Maga and her caregiver as Maga had to put the phone down so she could be moved from her wheelchair and over to the plush chair next to said tv.

“Here I am again,” Maga said, faintly.

“No, no. That’s not the telephone,” Caregiver R said. “That’s the remote.”

I bit back a laugh as I waited to be passed back to Maga. “Here I am again,” she said much louder now that she was holding the proper appliance.

There she was with her slow words and muddled mind and here I was patiently waiting on the other end. I let her describe the tennis match on tv ad nauseum and only attempted twice to get her to talk about her own tennis playing days.

“I haven’t played lately, but I will soon,” she said.

Hey! She might. It’s 2020. Anything’s fair game.

11.3.20

November 3, 2020

“How are you?” I asked.

“I’m still here,” Maga said.

“Oh…”

“Waiting for the good lord to come and find me.”

“Oh, Maga.”

“That’s sort of a silly thing to say, isn’t it?”

“Yes!” I scrambled for a quick change of topic. “Did you know my mom is on her way to see you?”

“Where is she coming from?”

“NJ.”

“Where am I?”

“CO.”

“Where are you, dear?”

“MA.”

As she crunched on potato chips, I couldn’t help but think our conversation was mirroring what’s on nearly every channel. The lists of states (and their tallies of votes for the next president of the United States).

“What’s for dinner, Maga?”

“A sandwich (meat and cheese), potato chips, a pickle.”

“And dessert?”

“I don’t see any here.”

“WHAT?” I cried, knowing it’s her favorite part of any meal and knowing I come by my sweet tooth genetically.

“[Caregiver M] just left. We did elbows. You know about that?”

I could figure it out, but wanted to hear her explanation. “No, tell me more.”

“You bend your arm. Eat the sandwich.”

“What??”

“It’s chicken and cheese, and potato chips, and a roll, and a pickle.”

“What does your dinner have to do with elbows?” (She did not understand this sentence or any variation I could think of to tone down my voice so she could hear the words.)

“Maga, you were explaining why you ‘did elbows’ with [Caregiver M]. Was it instead of a hug?”

“Yes. Because I’m eating dinner and it’s easier, umm, harder to hug while I’m eating.”

And here I thought it was because of covid germs…

She launched into some stats from the states’ tallies.

“Did you vote, Maga?”

“Yes.”

“Who did you vote for?”

*crunch crunch crunch* “Biden.”

“Yes! Good choice!”

“It looks like Biden is doing better than Tr*mp. They’re drawing all over that map.”

“It’s too early to tell, but I suspect they’ll be drawing all over that map all night.”

“Do you see it too?”

“Well, no. They’re showing TX on my screen.”

“They’re showing VA on mine!” Maga said happily.

We both paused to chuckle. (Reader: Virginia is her name.)

She continued to chew and crunch her way through her dinner. It was honestly not annoying because it meant her appetite was back, and, as my mom always says, no one should eat a meal alone, so even though I was done mine hours ago, I was happy to keep her company as she ate hers.

“Let’s talk next week when all this is settled,” she said. “And I’m done this dinner.”

“Okay, that sounds good. In the meantime, enjoy your dinner and enjoy your visitors.”

“Yes, I’m pleased to think I’ll have visitors.”

Even though we’d hung up, her daydreams and pleasant thoughts were still floating merrily around.

10.27.20

October 27, 2020

“How are you,” I asked.

“I don’t know. It’s a funny day today,” Maga said.

“How so?”

“With all the snow and slow goings on.”

“Oh, yes, that actually makes sense,” I said thinking of my own goings on and the pace of quarantine life.

“Are you in a position to see the moon?”

“No, not at the moment, why?”

“It’s a great, big, round moon tonight.”

“Can you see it now?” I asked.

“Yes. I’m sitting at my desk eating dinner and I can see it in the window.”

“I think it’s supposed to be a full moon on Saturday.”

“What’s that?”

And so began a back and forth where I stuck to the same topic as her, but she couldn’t understand me as she munched through her dinner of “some sort of chicken sandwich” and “not very good vegetables” and then she’d talk about the moon again as it was apparently very bright through her window.

(Reader: eventually, I got up and looked through all of my windows, but the clouds were too thick, so all I had to go on was any one of her 10 descriptions of the “big, round, yellow moon.”)

“Oh, Abby, dear….” Maga began, and well, actually, it feels unfair to transcribe her bursts of sadness, but they were there, as big and round as the moon. I tried to let her feel and I tried to empathize and I tried to distract, but nothing was working.

“I just need to find my phone,” Maga said.

“Maga, you’re holding it.”

“I am?”

“Yes, you’re talking to me on it.”

“Oh, so I am.”

“What do you need it for?”

“I need to talk to J or C. Listen, could you do me a favor?”

“Sure thing.”

“Could you call them and have them call me? I think they have my number. Do you?”

“Yes, I do. In fact, I called you on it.”

“Oh, yes, that’s right. Could you have one of them contact me?”

“Of course. I’ll contact them both.”

“What? Who? Which one?”

“Both. I’ll contact both and have them call you.”

“Oh. Maybe you should just call one.”

“Okay, then. I’ll call my mom and have her call you right now.”

“Thank you. Goodbye.”

I’m not sure if it was the moon or mercury being in retrograde or sundowner syndrome, but whatever it was, her “blue” feeling was too much for a granddaughter to soothe, so I tagged in a better option. My mom. Though from the sounds of it, she thought she might have to tag in the ultimate option, her sister [Aunt J]. Maybe between the three of us, we can invoke a sense of calm?

Then again, emotions are as varied as moonbeams, but how do you explain that to a 99yo?