August 13, 2019

“And how are you, Maga?” I asked.

“I’m not going to win any battles, but I’m still here so that’s something.”

“I’ll say!”

“Have you had any visitors lately?”



“Truly. You get more than me!”

“You have an extra bedroom, right?”


“So if someone wanted to visit and stay the night, they could?”

“Yes. Do you want to?”

Peals of laughter spilled out from the phone. “Well, maybe not just yet.”

I liked how she phrased that, as if the time for her to be able to come visit wasn’t right now, but it wasn’t far away either.

“Do you have any trips coming up?” Maga asked.

“I’ll be in Maine this weekend with [Sister J] and [B-I-L-T].”

“Oh, I love Maine. I used to go up there all the time. A friend of my mother’s had a really lovely house up there with tennis courts and everything.”

“Wow! That sounds amazing.”

“It really was. It was there I played tennis with…” She trailed off purposefully, as if I was supposed to know who she played tennis with. (Honestly? I was too busy trying to spell her mother’s friend’s name so I could re-write it here.) (I failed.)

“Who’d you play tennis with?”

“A.J. Cronin.”

The pride in her voice made me feel guilty for asking, “Who’s that?”

“He wrote books. He loved tennis. I’m not sure how he knew Auntie [Name-I-Didn’t-Quite-Catch], but we played quite a bit of tennis together. I wonder if he’s still alive?”

“Was he your age?”

“No, he was a bit older.”

“Did you ever read any of his books?”

“Oh, yes. Many of them.”

“I’ll have to look him up.”

“You should. His books are quite enjoyable.”

And now I’m in a book club with my 98yo grandmother.

“Do you have any pets?” Maga asked.

“Nope. Not as an adult.”

“You’ve never had any pets??”

“Not really, no. What about you?”

“Oh, yes, we had pets.”

“I mean what about when you were a kid?”

“Oh, no. My mother’s mother didn’t like animals, and, we lived with her.”


“You don’t like animals?” Maga’s voice was choked with incredulity. Or was it familiarity?

“Umm, not really no. But apparently it’s genetic!”

“Guess so. She didn’t like animals so we didn’t have any. We lived with her.”

“Her house her rules, huh?”

“Yep. She owned the house so she made the rules.”

“Seems fair.”

It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself / your family history from just a bit of small talk.




August 6, 2019

“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”


“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Hello? Hello?”


I pulled the headphones out and switched it to speaker phone and basically screamed, “Can you hear me now?”

“Oh, yes. Hi, Abby dear.”

“Sorry about that, I dropped my phone earlier and it’s acting up now.”

“You dropped it? Were you at home?”

“Walking to work.”

She paused…”Is it a portable phone?”

“Yes. My mobile phone.”

“What type of phone is it.”

“An iphone.”

“Maybe you should take it to a place that fixes iphones.”

“I could do that, but it’s quite old, so it may be on its last legs.”

I never expected to get technological advice from my 98yo grandmother, but, here we are…

“Did you say you got a new car?” Maga asked.

“Nope. Just a new roof.”

“Oh, I wonder who did?”

“Not sure, but it wasn’t me. I have to get a new roof, so I definitely can’t afford a car too.”

“Why do you need a new roof?”

“The current one is leaking.”

“Have you talked to someone about fixing it?”


“Will it be expensive?”


“Oh dear.”

“Sorry, this has put me in a rather bad mood.”

“That’s understandable.” And then she sweetly attempted to carry the conversation, but when one is at her “advanced age and can’t travel much” the conversation is usually held aloft by me, but having to scream into my phone’s speaker so she could accurately hear me left me feeling like I was yelling at her, which I most definitely wasn’t.

“How are the boys doing?”

“Which boys?”

“Your brothers. [Uncle T] and [Uncle D].”

“They’re not my brothers. They’re my uncles.”

Maga’s confusion over her children, my misbehaving phone, and my broken roof put me over the edge. I quickly/patiently pointed out who her children were vs who my parents were and, I’m sorry to admit, cheered when her caregiver suggested they go sit outside on the balcony.

Maybe the fresh air would do us both good.


July 30, 2019

“Didn’t you tell the weatherman that was too hot?” Maga asked.

“I tried. He didn’t listen.”

“I guess not. I don’t like it when it’s that hot.”

“But you also don’t like it when it’s too cold either.”

“That’s true.”

“Would you rather it be too hot or too cold?”

“Too cold, I guess because when it’s too cold you can go inside and get warm, but when it’s that hot, it’s very difficult to cool off.”

“Yeah, I guess I do agree with that.”

“What else have you been up to?” Maga asked.

“Let’s see. It’s been rather quiet. But there’s softball. Playoffs are happening this week.”

“Do I remember you’re a pitcher?”

“You do!”

“Good for you.”

“Good for you.” I echoed.

Sometimes her memory astounds me and I can’t help but be a cheerleader for her. We then careened around variations of the same conversation of sports vs. how quiet it’s been vs. how hot vs. when was I coming to visit her.

“Umm, I was just there two weeks ago!” (Memory fading…)

“Oh, I guess you were. I suppose it’s too close to that to expect you to stop by again.”

“I mean I’d love to. My wallet, however…”

“I really enjoyed your visit when you were here.” (Reader, I doubted the truth of the statement she made…)

“It was a really fun visit. I got to see you 3x.”

“And how was the Reunion thing? What did you do?”

“We had meals and a meeting and games and free time to hang out. [Niece M] and I went out on the lake.”

“Is she the youngest?”

“The oldest.”

“Seems like they all have 3 kids.”  (Memory improving…)

“Seems that way.”

“Who else of Cathy’s kids has 3?” (Memory improving + fading…)

(Reader: Cathy is my mom. Maga knows better than to refer to her as Cathy in front of me, but she’s not wrong about 3 being a common choice for number of children.)

“[Brother G], [Sister J]. How many kids do you think [Sister E] has?”

“She has zero. As do you.”

I chuckled. Her memory always seems to suss out just when I’m testing her. It’s nice when it’s super quiet here and I don’t have any stories to regal her with to be able to liven up the conversation with some playful banter.


July 23, 2019

“Once you’ve arrived at the airport, how do you get to the next place?” Maga asked.

“My house?”

“Yes. Do you take a taxi to your lodging?”

“Sure do.”

“Do you have any more trips planned?”

“Not in the immediate future.”


“What did you do today?”

“Oh, not much. It was a quiet day.”

“Those are necessary some days.”

“Yes. Some days are rushing days and those aren’t as fun as the quiet ones.”

“I’ve got a bunch of quiet ones in my near future.”

“I guess so after a trip like you just had. You need to catch up.”

“You got it.”

“Did Aunt J stop by today?”

“Yes, she did. She had such an interesting gadget with her to show me the pictures. Like a TV screen.”

“Her phone?”

“It was connected to it.”

“Oh, I think you mean her iPad.”


“Maga, you have one of those!”

“I do?”

“Yes. It’s got a red cover and is sitting next to your TV.”

“Oh, why yes. I do see something like that on top of the TV stand.”

Looking at the TV tore her attention away from our discussion and lodged it on the “crazy creatures” on screen. Admittedly, the break in conversation was a relief from answering the “do you have any upcoming trips” question, which she asked no less than nine times in the span of five minutes and which I’ve edited out of this post for brevity.

Having just seen her three times over the course of four days showed me why she often gets stuck on one particular topic. Her mobility is severely limited and as such she’s often within her small apartment. The TV broadens the room a bit, so I can’t fault her for often tuning into it while we’re talking. Her memories would expand the room as well, but her memory’s definitely not what it used to be and so she focuses on the present, which more and more often resets every minute or so.

Hard as the truth of 98 is, gratitude at the opportunity to know this about her and to have recently seen her warmed me as I answered in a variety of ways that, “no, I do not have any upcoming trips planned.”

“Come again anytime,” Maga said. “You know the route.”

I’m not sure if she heard, but I do happen to have a rather empty calendar… ;)



July 15, 2019

Maga dropped two pearls of wisdom tonight:

“Be patient and wait for something good to happen.”

“Let’s speak up and get it straightened out.” + “If we speak up together, maybe they’ll be more accommodating.”

The first was in relation to work, but it could be a lens to look at my (lack of) dating life. The second was regarding the details of my father’s family tree, but I’m choosing to hear it as us women need to stick together and raise our voices to get the equality we, and those who come after us, deserve.

Sometimes it’s not the little things, but the big things she says that I can file away. And sometimes it’s not the big moments, but all the little ones we spend “together” that add up to a big story.