12.11.18

December 11, 2018

With holiday surprises coming together under my fingers, I was feeling indulgent, so I allowed Maga her weather questions.

“I hate snow,” Maga said. “Is that showing my age?”

“If it is, then I’m 97 too.”

But that didn’t mean I couldn’t make some light-hearted jokes while doing so.

We then discussed the importance of family during the holidays, travel plans, and visitors.

“What day of the week is Christmas this year?” Maga asked.

“I think it’s a Tuesday. Oh, so that would make it exactly two weeks from today.”

“What’s today’s date?”

“The 11th.”

“11 + 14 is 25, so yes, exactly right. Good for you.”

Looks like Maga was feeling rather indulgent tonight too.

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12.4.18

December 4, 2018

“I have a few decorations up,” I said, “one of which is a ceramic Christmas tree. It reminds me of one my mom has, so I’m absolutely in love with it.”

“That’s nice.”

“It’s my first holiday season having it up. It reminds of my childhood.”

“Those are some of the best memories of all.”

“What sort of decorations did you put up as a kid?”

“My childhood was kind of different. We didn’t have terribly big celebrations. It was just me and my mom. My grandmom would put up a tree.”

Maga’s statements were clipped. Unsure if it was her memory or her attention span, I pushed forward. “Were there any things you did as a kid that you incorporated once you were in charge of the holidays?”

“After I got married and it was Jobo and me and the kids, we’d hang up stockings on Christmas Eve…”

She trailed off. Talk about queen of the cliff hanger! Struck with deja vu, I realized it was both her memory and her attention span. My own mother, Maga’s daughter, often does the same thing when on the phone (hi, Mom, yes, we know you’re folding laundry and answering emails and putting dishes away all while talking to us), however, I had a feeling Maga, who’d gotten settled into her chair at the start of our conversation, wasn’t doing twelve other things. Perhaps my questions were stretching her limits. But after answering yet another question about the weather, I tried one more time for some new information.

“Did you have any favorite holiday foods?” I asked.

“Not really.”

“Oh! Did you used to eat pearl onions?”

“I guess we might have.”

“My mom always makes those and I thought it was something she picked up from her childhood because it’s not necessarily a favorite dish in our house.”

“Well, usually mothers hand down recipes to their daughters.”

It wasn’t a definitive statement about the holidays, traditions, family, or the secret ingredient in her (is it hers?) pearl onion dish, but, it wasn’t another question about the weather…

11.26.18

November 26, 2018

“And how was your Thanksgiving dinner?” I said.

“Not great,” Maga said. “There’s a lot of older people who take their time with meals.”

Knowing she is 97 and eats with a delicate precision unless dessert is involved, I played along. “But at least the food was good, right?”

“I don’t know why the food isn’t better. The service is also very slow. I don’t really like it here.”

“But you had Aunt J and Uncle P for company.”

“Yes, true.”

“When they’re not there, do you chat with anyone in the dining room?”

“Oh, yes. I have some friends I eat meals with.”

“What do you guys talk about?”

“Our families. The weather. It’s not very stimulating conversation. They’re all old!”

My adoration of her bubbled over and I couldn’t contain the chuckles.

“Some of them have local family. Some don’t. I sure wish my family was closer.”

“But, Maga. You have Aunt J and Uncle P! All I have nearby are the ghosts of Wellesley to keep me company.” (My wit had to be repeated and translated due to her hearing and inability to hear certain tones of my voice…) (Sigh.)

“True, true. Mom and Grandmom.”

“Your mom went to Wellesley?!?” I fairly shrieked as I was stuck on high volume from the previous bit.

“No no no. I’m your grandmom.”

“Oh! Ha. Right. Did Nana go to college? Or was that too long ago?”

“She went to kindergarten training school.”

Usually we’re talking about the family that came from Maga, not where she came from, so I took the chance to keep her talking about her mother. Yes, it’s Monday, but I had Christmas carols playing in the background and nothing but time for Maga, who happened to be on the ball tonight. Sure, things started off with nursing homes full of cranky old people, but it ended with nursing homes full of loved ones who were content with their surroundings (aka Nana).

Hopefully the lesson wasn’t obvious only to me.

11.20.18

November 21, 2018

“How’s the weather in Boston?” Maga asked.

“Not sure. I’m not there. I’m in [different location].”

“Oh, that’s right. You’re with [Brother G]’s family for the holiday. I’m so glad you’re there. I think families should get together as often as they can.”

As I was in the midst of agreeing with her, my surroundings registered and I realized I was literally standing in front of a handmade item she crafted for Brother G upon his birth.

“Maga!” I cried, “Guess what’s in front of me right now? A cross stitch picture of a train with G’s name, his birth year, and your initials.”

“What year was that?”

“1976.”

“My! That was a long time ago.”

“How did you have time to do all that?”

“Of course I was younger then which meant I had more energy for that sort of thing. Age makes a difference.”

“True.”

“You know G and his son A were in Denver recently for A’s birthday, and, I guess to see me too.”

“They were 100% there to see you, Maga! Can you believe how grown up A is?”

“Time flies and people’s ages do too.”

She may have been only a mother and never an aunt and I may be only an aunt and never a mother, but we both agree whatever role/shape, families should get together as often as life, time, and finances allow.

11.13.18

November 14, 2018

I was in an Uber. Maga was in between the changing of the guard. We both had two extra pairs of ears potentially listening to our exchange. She was frazzled while waiting for her youngest son to arrive from the airport. I attempted to calm her, but she wasn’t having it. My ride arrived the bar and my one trivia teammate dashed inside (we were late) while I stayed outside checking to make sure she would be okay. Both her daytime caregiver and I explained that Uncle T’s plane had just landed so it would be some time before he arrived at her place, but he’d probably call her soon to check in, so she should sit and relax. She wasn’t having it.

The conversation was short, fraught, and in the middle of a dozen things happening, but sometimes, that’s life.