Normally, our calls are brief and cover the weather and who traveled where, but her new surroundings are still too unusual for comfort and my voice is familiar and we were both loath to hang up.
My soft voice competed against her TV which was set to volume ALL THE NOISE. After the fifth time she asked, I stopped folding my laundry and turned my TV to the same channel. “It’s like we’re in the same room together,” I said.
Her laugh sounded less lonely. “I’m a lifelong Republican,” Maga said. “But I’m not so sure about this situation.”
Politics are never something we discuss, nor are they something I’m very interested in, but this time I couldn’t hold back my distaste for the Republican candidate. “Oh good,” she said. “I agree. I’m glad you said it first. Oh, it says his son and daughter are going to speak.”
“He has a lot of children. Which ones are talking?”
She rambled off some names I didn’t recognize. “Well, this isn’t his first marriage. He has a lot of kids. You know, it makes his stance on marriage sound a little…”
“Phony,” she filled in.
My grin lit up the room. Her mind so sharp in that moment.
“My screen went black and there are three fuzzy lines. What’s that?”
“How’s the weather there? Storms?”
And sure enough the emergency signal sounded on her TV and also directly in my ear (it really was like we were in the same room). She read me the warning about potential for flash floods. “It really is creepy here.”
“Were you able to bring any pictures from home?”
“Oh, yes. The one of Buck that your uncle painted. It was above the fireplace. And I have some others from the living room.”
“What about photos?”
“Us! Your family!”
“Oh, of course. Tons.” Her voice trailed off. “It really is creepy here. So many old people who look and act old.”
“There must be at least one good thing…? Living all on one level?”
“Yes, that is really comfortable and nice.”
“They serve too much. And food they serve to the masses isn’t like a home cooked meal. And the dinner hours are not what I’m used to. And there are old people here. I have to look at them all during meals.”
I bit back a laugh. “Well, what about activities? Are there any of those?”
“Oh, yes. I played bridge today.”
“Fun! That’s so great! Tell me you won?”
“No, my partner and I lost.”
She gave me a breakdown of the three people she spent an hour with while I did my best to direct the conversation up and up and up towards the sunshine instead of the storm clouds, even though they were literally gathering outside.