11.21.17

November 21, 2017

“Are you home?” Maga asked.

“I’m in my apartment, yes.”

“And I’m in my apartment, so that makes the two of us.”

As she relayed her dinner (“beef sandwich and ice cream for dessert, and salad at the beginning”), I realized we really are two of a kind. Sandwiches and salad and ice cream? That’s my kind of meal.

“Do you have any travel plans for the rest of the year?”

“Just to Mom and Dad’s for the holidays.”

“That’s it?”

“I’m waiting for my wallet to refill after all the other travels I’ve done this year.”

That got a hearty chuckle out of Maga. (Was it the sad state of my bank account? Or the way I phrased this period of saving/waiting?) Either way, there was plenty of room for laughter here for these two peas in a pod.

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11.14.17

November 16, 2017

“Hi Maga. It’s Abby. How are you?”

“I’m doing pretty good for an old lady. I’m still here, so that’s something.”

“Indeed.”

“How was your evening?”

“Fun. I was out to dinner with some friends and we played a game called trivia.”

*commence me explaining Trivia no less than 5 times*

“And how did you do?” Maga asked.

“We got third place.”

“Oh, that’s not bad.”

“We were quite pleased. And how was your night?”

“Well, when you get to be 96, you don’t go out galavanting much. I had my good times when they were there, but now I’ve earned a rest.”

“That you have.”

“Do you have any other trips planned?”

“Just to Mom/Dad’s for Thanksgiving. My wallet’s a bit overtaxed at the moment.”

“Will you do the full turkey and everything?”

“Well, I’m not exactly sure. It’s just four of us, so we might not do a big whole turkey. It’s under negotiation.”

“But leftover are always nice to have.”

“True. And you know what? As much as I love the big Thanksgiving meal, my favorite is actually Friday at lunch when my dad makes turkey sandwiches.”

“Oh, he does? I didn’t realized he’s the culinary sort.”

“He’s always had a few specialities – turkey sandwiches being one of them – but he’s getting quite dishes under his belt now.”

“I guess now that he’s retired he has time to develop those skills.”

It has been interesting watching my dad evolve over this past year and change since retirement. I’d say he’s doing even more galavanting than ever before, but that also might be because his four children are spread across the US and we’ve been keeping him busier than a full time job. Not to mention the time he’s spent developing said culinary skills. Maga may be resting during these later years of retirement, but in this category of early retirement, my dad is going full steam ahead.

(P.S. It’s an interesting phone call that talking to your mother’s mother can make you think more deeply about your father.)

11.7.17

November 7, 2017

Maga’s voicemail as transcribed by Siri: “Hi every year smog it is Tuesday night and I was talk to you dear mom…few minutes ago and somebody broke or try to anyway and I thought maybe…issue…is…so I have…now I’m calling you but I guess you are home when you get home give me a buzz or two late Ok…you…love you bye…”

Mom’s text: “Did you just try to call Maga? If so, I’m off the phone with her now. :)”

As a creature of habit, when you deviate from it, you get voicemails and texts inquiring about your whereabouts. I happened to be in the middle of winning trivia (and was banking on the two hour time difference to make a phone call at a later – but still reasonable there – time), but the matriarchs of my life called me on it.

Once I reached a quieter space (aka home), I dialed Maga.

“Oh, Abby dear. Hello. It’s Tuesday. Our night. I was wondering about you so I thought I’d call. How are things in NJ?”

“Well, things in MA are going well.”

“Why ever are you there?”

“I live here.”

“Oh my. So you do. How could I have made that silly mistake?”

I guess me not initiating the phone call really threw things off kilter. That and she was just talking to my mom so she had NJ on the brain for good reason.

“How’s the weather there?” she asked.

“Quite terrible right now. Pouring rain.”

“But not snow?”

“Oh no. Thank goodness, no.” And just like that the rain seemed grand instead of gloomy. “Has it snowed there?”

“Just once. Not too much. I don’t like the snow. I’m not sure if it’s my advanced age or what, but I find I do not like the snow.”

“Did you like it when you were younger?”

“Not really, no.”

“But, Dillon…?” (She owns property in the mountains of CO.)

“Nope. Even in my younger days, it never appealed to me. All that snow and cold.”

“Umm, so what did you do when you were up there?”

“I read and did needlepoint and made dinner for when they all got home and practical things like that.”

After a night spent being asked questions and having my team work to find the answers, Maga handed me the definition of motherhood. I hadn’t realized I’d asked the question, but it is one I was/am seeking the answer to.

10.31.17

October 31, 2017

“Happy Halloween,” I said. “Did you celebrate today?”

“We had a bit of a party downstairs. I didn’t have a costume but they still let me in, so I guess that was alright. Did you celebrate?”

“My neighbors and I sat on our front porch and handed out candy. It was my first time doing so in Boston because I never got kids at any of my other places.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“Did you like Halloween when you were younger?”

“Oh yes. When I was a kid and then when I had kids. It was fun to open the door to the neighboring children. But those days are long past.”

“But you have the memories. Those you can cherish.”

“And the photographs. Those are handy and helpful.”

The idea of sorting through all of the photographs in her house (trick) in an attempt to find the Halloween ones (treat)…

10.20.17 + 10.24.17 + 10.25.17

October 25, 2017

I dialed Maga’s number on 10/20 to give her some family updates. “Abby?! You won’t believe it.”

“What?” I said, my heart dropping thinking she had some inside line on the updates and knew more than me.

“I was just watching TV. It was sort of dull and I thought of you.”

Oh, Maga. Always keeping me grounded.

On 10/24, our usual night, I gave her a quick ring. “Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Abby, dear. Can I call you back in a bit? I’m just about to go to lunch.” Before I could question which meal she was headed to, she corrected herself. “I mean dinner.”

“Actually, I have a softball game in a bit and I’ll be home too late to call you back.”

“Oh, well, how about tomorrow?”

“Deal.”

There was mass confusion as Maga picked up on the phone tonight because her nighttime caregiver wasn’t there yet.

“Can I call you back, Abby? We need to track down the sitter.”

“Sure.”

As I was reciting my phone number for the umpteenth time, the person in question showed up and so the daytime caregiver, M, told Maga to keep talking to me. She tried to hang up 2 or 3 times, but M kept assuring Maga everything was fine and to stick with the conversation. I held the line and eavesdropped.

Suddenly, Maga’s muffled voice came back on the line. “My nighttime sitter was late and I am not happy about it.”

“Maga. It’s okay. People run late. It happens from time to time.”

“It happens to me quite often. I understand it.”

And yet I couldn’t quite understand her rage and poor attempt to talk about someone who was surely sitting less than 20 feet away.

“Tell me about your plans for this week. Any lunch or dinners out?” I said.

“I have lunch plans with C on Thursday. You remember her? She’s your mother’s friend.”

“And she’s my godmother, so yes, I know her very well. She’s the best.”

“I’m very fond of her.”

“Ditto.”

We waxed some more poetry about C and about the weather there (80 today, snow tomorrow) and the weather here (constant rain) before she once again tried to hang up so she could figure out the transition from one caregiver to the next.

“Thank you for calling,” Maga said.

“Sure thing.”

“Good enough.”

For a week that contained multiple phone calls, we sure had a hard time connecting.