“Hi Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Oh Abby dear. Isn’t today Wednesday?”

*hangs head in shame* “Yes. Yes it is.”

“Where are you now?”

“I’m actually in my new place. I’m doing some cleaning before the big move on Friday.”

“Do I have your address? And phone number?”

“My phone number will stay the same as usual. I’m going to mail you a letter that will have my new address on it.”

“Oh, please do. And could you include your new number?”

“It’s the same as before. You must have it.”

“I’m sure I do, but with all the moving I’ve been doing lately…things have gotten jumbled. Why don’t you tell it to me again? Your new number.”

“You have been moving a lot. Were you able to take any personal things to the rehab center?”

“No, no. They’re all at Lowry.”

“Isn’t it good to be back there?”

“Well, yes and no. It’s full of odd people. Oh don’t tell anyone I said that. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“It’s between you and me, Maga.” [AND MY BLOG] [with its whopping 10 readers]

“I lived in my other house for over 60 years. It was so comfortable.”

“But Lowry is better than the rehab place, isn’t it?”

“Oh, for certain.”

“Well, let’s focus on that that.”

“I was going to call you later tonight since I didn’t hear from you last night.”

“I am so sorry. I actually sat up in bed at 11:30 last night and said out loud, ‘It’s Tuesday. I never called Maga.’ That’s how frazzled this move is making me. For no good reason, I missed our usual phone call and by the time I remembered, it was too late to call you.”

“Why don’t you give me your new number?”

“There isn’t a new number. It’s the same as before. It’s the same as the one I’m talking to you on now.”

“Mmmhmm. Yes. Why don’t you tell me your new number?”

*sighs* *continues Swiffering floors* “Do you have a pencil handy?”

She somehow did and so I gave her my cell phone for the dozenth time because my guilt over forgetting to call her was as thick as her determination to record some portion of the changes I was going through.



“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Oh, Abby dear, hello! Are you on your way to the soccer game?”

“You are right on track with our schedule.”

“What’s that?”

“Yes, we are. I’m in the car now which is why I’m calling a bit earlier than usual. And which is why it’s a bit loud in the background.”

“I checked the Denver Post and couldn’t find out what channel the game would be on. Do you think it’ll be broadcast?”

“I imagine it would. But maybe on a cable channel like ESPN or something.”

“Oh, they wouldn’t have that listed in the paper. What time does it start?”

“7pm here, so 8pm there.”

We went back and forth about the time for awhile. I never was sure if she just couldn’t hear me or if my severely jet lagged, 4am wake up call brain was hindering my already tentative at best math skills, so I switched gears.

“What are your Thanksgiving plans?”

“J and P, flying home from Hawaii right now, will come over to the care center.”

“Oh, how wonderful!”

“Well, not really. The food they serve here will be for old people.”

“Well, yes. That’s probably true, so maybe focus on the company you’ll have instead.”

“Yes. Good point. I should do that. And how many will be there with you?”

“13. M already has the table all set and it’s gorgeous.”

“Oh my! That’s a lot. A packed house!”

We went over the details of the guests and, again, I think she guessed who was going to be there more than she could actually hear me. It was a combination of ambient car noise + the tone of my voice. She sometimes can’t hear my tone so instead of repeating myself, I have to think of another way to say something so the vowels and consonants rearrange into a deeper tone of voice she can hear.

Unfortunately this time, there were limited options on how to say the guests’ names.

“Oh, Abby. Hold on. There’s someone at the door. Yes, hello. Who are you, please?”

It was someone to take her blood, so I quickly tried to disengage before she could tell the person to come back later. It takes a village to raise a child, and, addendum, make sure the elderly (who have decades of making their own decisions) take proper care of themselves.

Because even though we won’t be at the same Thanksgiving table, I want to keep Maga’s (relative) good health on my list of things to be thankful for.


conversations with strangers #135


The automatic door forgot its one job, so the man in front of me labored through the heavy door and held it for me.

“There you go,” he said.

As my hand replaced his on the frame, I pushed it a little more. “Oh. There. It caught. Of course. Now that we’re both through the door.”

“Just my luck,” he said.

For that brief moment, we were together in the same boat. Stuck in the midst of a non-working world. Which, yes, is a direct analogy for this post election USA.



“Tell me about your visit with my mom and dad.”

“It was wonderful,” Maga said. “So wonderful to have them here. Your folks look great. Your mom always looks great and I’d say retirement agrees with your dad.”

“He is freshly retired but keeping busy!”

“I’ll say. They stopped off at the house to get the green car and they had rented a car at the airport so they had two cars and could go in different directions if they wanted.”

“Did they need to go in different directions?”

“Well, I’m a bit of a collector as I’m sure you’re aware.”


“And so they had to go through a lot of stuff. Get rid of it. They had to take things to places where you can leave them if you don’t need them.”

The lack of ability to recall the word dump or goodwill or salvation army was not due to her 95.5 years of age. It was solely due to her status as a “collector.”

“And they didn’t even invite me to go with them.”

“Maga! Surely you didn’t want to go. It wouldn’t have been fun for you.”

“Yes, I guess you’re right.”

Actually, I lied to her. I knew it would have been fun. Far too much fun in fact because what’s one person’s trash is always Maga’s treasure.


family history

My aunt role model came to town. Or, more specifically, returned to the city she called home for 8 years. A sad occasion brought her here, but we decided to make the most of it.

We shared a hotel room and uber-ed to Home Depot and to Sears and to furniture stores. She learned about uber while I learned what to look for in a sofa and what makes a good washer/dryer and what it means to be a Mumford. We ate delicious meals and re-arranged the hotel room and sipped fabulous wine. We spilled our emotional guts. Amaro became frenet and she showed me how to turn an unexpected twist into something you actually wanted.

There’s something about advice given to you by an adult that’s not one of your parents that makes it easier to swallow.

I had always used my Aunt A as a role model of the kind of aunt I want to be to my nieces and nephews, but what I hadn’t realized was that I’d also been using her a barometer for the type of adult I want to be.

Her generosity and intelligence and practicality and toughness and insight (into herself, into those around her, into her job) are fierce. Her firsthand knowledge and recall abilities of family history are top notch, but mostly, it’s her ability to be vulnerable and to share and to give. She wants me to know as much about our ancestors as she does, but it’s important to her that the facts be shared face to face because it creates a new memory for us, in addition to, a cold tale is easier to bear when you have a warm body next to you.

The more I learned about her, the more I learned about me. And not because we’re super similar, but because in her sharing about herself, it made me dive deeper into what I know to be true about myself.

“I’m still not used to this reflection,” I said.

“What? Why?” she said. “When’d you dye your hair?”

“Tuesday,” I said.

Without pause or thought, she said, “When I walked in and saw you, I thought, ‘There’s her Mumford side.'”

And she was right. The red hue is more my father’s side while my natural blonde is my mother’s. It never occurred to me that I was dying my hair a color anything other than something I liked. It turns out my hair is the color of my past.

I have my Aunt A to thank for introducing me to the past, present, and future of me.