February 21, 2017

“It’s not as practical to go tripping around when you’re 95.”

“Well, no,” I agreed with Maga, “but you made good use of your younger years.”

“That’s true. I went all over the world with Jobo and without.”

“Without? Really? What was your first solo trip?”

“It was to Italy.”

“What was the occasion?”

“Well Aunt J met Uncle P and his parents took me in as a houseguest. We drove from France through the Alps to the lake country of Italy.”

“Where was Jobo?”

“He must have been on some sort of trip. I don’t really remember. It was a fantastic trip, though. And you take lots of trips now too, don’t you?”

“I try to. You’re my role model.”

“Do you take as many pictures as I do?”


“I probably took too many, but it’s fun to look back at an album and see where you were.”

It’s also just as fun to hear about where she was. And to realize her first solo international trip was to the same country/region as mine. We were forged not just via the same genes, but the same planes as well.


February 14, 2017

“I’m all foozledee tonight, but at least we’re back together again,” Maga said once we’d reconnected. The line’d dropped before and I had to wait a few minutes for her to properly hang up her phone so I could call through again.

“Did you have a good Valentine’s Day?” I said.

“Oh, yes.”

“Did you wear red?”

“Lots of it. And went to lunch with a friend from [church name].”

“Isn’t that where my mom and dad got married?”

“Why, yes. It is. Many years ago.”

“And where did you and Jobo get married?”

“At [church name] in Montclair, NJ. Not far from where I grew up.”

“Did you have any bridesmaids?”

“4 of them. Two from college and two from the neighborhood. I went to high school with them. It was wonderful having their help. Didn’t I ever show you my wedding book?”

“You must have, but the details need refreshing. Who walked you down the aisle? Your uncle?”

“Yes. Uncle E. As you know, my parents divorced when I was 4 and so Uncle E filled in the gaps. He was like a father. A great man.”

“How wonderful to have him there.”

“Yes, it really was. Did you get my valentine today?”

“I did. Thank you! You know, I’ve never asked. Where did you and Jobo get the $2 bill?”

“The bank.”

Her literal answer tickled me so much, it took much a good few minutes to collect myself. “No, no, I meant the idea of sending a $2 bill for Valentine’s Day.”

“Oh. It was just a crazy idea, I guess. We have so many grandchildren and it didn’t cost us too much to do that. Plus $2 bills are unusual and neat.”

“I always thought it was because two is a couple. And Valentine’s Day is a day for couples. Anyways, did I ever tell you I carry one of the $2 bills in my wallet so whenever I see it I think of you and Jobo.”

“That’s good. You’ll always have a little bit of money then.”

“And a little bit of my grandparents wherever I go.”

Her reason and my interpretation may differ, but the love between us is the same.


February 7, 2017

It was one of our longest conversations and while we covered topics both old and new, it wasn’t a groundbreaking discussion. I took notes, like usual, keeping track of particular sentiments, advice, and/or funny turns of phrase.

“I will always be interested in what you’re doing and where you’re going.”

Maga said it after asking me if I had any upcoming travel plans. As I recited my lack of plans for the fourth time, my pen trailed over the words. Each pass darkened the letters until they stood out in stark contrast, until they left their imprint on the page underneath, until they were embossed on my heart.

And like that, this Tuesday night felt a little less lonely.


January 31, 2017

Voices screeched across my phone, which meant Maga had the TV on. Politics politics politics. The new Supreme Court Justice nomination.

“Do you have your TV on?” Maga asked. “This is all very interesting.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Why not?”

“I have the internet on.”

“Oh. Is it quieter?”

In one way, yes. In another way, no.

“Do you think he’ll be a good candidate?” she said.

“No. He’s against abortion and Planned Parenthood and civil rights.”

“Oh, the horrors.”

“You’re telling me.”

Because I was fighting a losing battle against the TV for her attention, I upped the ante. “How do you feel about abortion?”

“I have nothing against it. If they can’t afford another baby or if the health of the mother is a problem. But not if it’s a foolish decision.”

“Agreed. But mainly I just don’t think a man should get to say what happens to my uterus.”

“Well, yes. That’s true. He’s wrong for that job. How do you like Trump so far?”

“He’s horrible.”

“I agree. He seems to be doing a lot of things that irritate people.”

“He’s turned me into a political protester.”


“I took part in a march for women.”


“On the Boston Common. Did you read about all of those marches across the US and world? They happened on the Saturday after he was inaugurated.”

“Yes, I guess I did. What else have you been up to?”

“Settling into my place. It takes time to get used to it all.”

“That’s very true.”

“How are you settling into your care center?”

“As far as care places go, I guess it’s a rather nice one, but the dining room drives me crazy. All those funny old people. To me it’s all very depressing while eating. Of course, I’m a funny old person myself.”


“You beat me to the punch in calling tonight. I was going to call you. It’s our Tuesday. I’ll call you next week, okay?”

“Okay, that sounds wonderful.”

“We always have lots to talk to each other about and you given me some thoughts to think about.”

“Until next week then.”

She never ceases to surprise me with her memories and opinions and despite the heavy tone of our conversation, it ended with words of love. It’s more important than ever to spread love.


January 24, 2017

“You all are so busy and here I am sitting here in this care center feeling sorry for myself.”

“Oh, Maga.” My heart sank. “If it helps, my winter’s been really quiet so far. Sticking close to home, getting settled, getting used to it all. And besides, you’ve lived a very busy life thus far.”

She started to tell me about South Africa and the Italian Lake Country and France and New Jersey. The details were a bit hazy, but since it was her world traveling memories, I couldn’t help shake out the cobwebs.

“I am continually impressed with what you’ve seen and done.”

“Yes, but I won’t be making any more international trips.”

“But you have all those pictures.”

“Yes, I guess I do have all those pictures.”

“You can look at them and remember and relive.”

“I suppose that’s all I can do.”

And so.

We turned to more familiar topics. My recent move. Sister E’s even more recent move. The weather. Our January birthdays. My phone number. My address. My parents’ travels. My siblings’ phone numbers. My aunt and uncle’s travels. My cousin’s international travels. Family. Family. Family. My phone number.

“It’s hard to keep everything straight unless you write it in a book,” she said.

And so.

A clarity about why I write so many things down (on post-it notes, on scraps of paper, on pads of paper) unveiled itself, but mostly, a deeper understanding of why she’s always asking for my contact information settled in my bones.