“Aunt J and Uncle P found some old movies at my house and put them onto some sort of gadget so we could watch it on the TV,” Maga said. 

“Oh, wow!”

“The movies are from when my kids are young. I mean really young. Uncle T wasn’t even born yet.”

“Are both you and Jobo in them too?”

“Not really. It’s mainly just the three kids. It’s long before you were even thought of, to be frank.”

“Maybe we can watch them over your birthday weekend? I’d love to see my mom and Aunt J and Uncle D as little young things.”

“What a wonderful idea! Yes, I’ll ask Aunt J if we can do that. They’re so funny. I’m in the kitchen in one doing crazy stuff.”

“Did you like to cook?”

“I don’t do much now, no.”

“But when you were younger…”

“Oh yes. I loved to cook. I was always cutting recipes out from magazines and newspapers. I really enjoyed cooking and trying out new recipes.”

The gene for cutting out snippets of paper and saving them? I got that. The gene for being a whiz in the kitchen? Did not get that.


As a consolation prize though, I get to see an itty bitty version of my mom when I’m next visiting Maga. As if I wasn’t already excited to help her celebrate #96…this is, dare I say it, the icing on the cake.



“It’s not as practical to go tripping around when you’re 95.”

“Well, no,” I agreed with Maga, “but you made good use of your younger years.”

“That’s true. I went all over the world with Jobo and without.”

“Without? Really? What was your first solo trip?”

“It was to Italy.”

“What was the occasion?”

“Well Aunt J met Uncle P and his parents took me in as a houseguest. We drove from France through the Alps to the lake country of Italy.”

“Where was Jobo?”

“He must have been on some sort of trip. I don’t really remember. It was a fantastic trip, though. And you take lots of trips now too, don’t you?”

“I try to. You’re my role model.”

“Do you take as many pictures as I do?”


“I probably took too many, but it’s fun to look back at an album and see where you were.”

It’s also just as fun to hear about where she was. And to realize her first solo international trip was to the same country/region as mine. We were forged not just via the same genes, but the same planes as well.



“I’m all foozledee tonight, but at least we’re back together again,” Maga said once we’d reconnected. The line’d dropped before and I had to wait a few minutes for her to properly hang up her phone so I could call through again.

“Did you have a good Valentine’s Day?” I said.

“Oh, yes.”

“Did you wear red?”

“Lots of it. And went to lunch with a friend from [church name].”

“Isn’t that where my mom and dad got married?”

“Why, yes. It is. Many years ago.”

“And where did you and Jobo get married?”

“At [church name] in Montclair, NJ. Not far from where I grew up.”

“Did you have any bridesmaids?”

“4 of them. Two from college and two from the neighborhood. I went to high school with them. It was wonderful having their help. Didn’t I ever show you my wedding book?”

“You must have, but the details need refreshing. Who walked you down the aisle? Your uncle?”

“Yes. Uncle E. As you know, my parents divorced when I was 4 and so Uncle E filled in the gaps. He was like a father. A great man.”

“How wonderful to have him there.”

“Yes, it really was. Did you get my valentine today?”

“I did. Thank you! You know, I’ve never asked. Where did you and Jobo get the $2 bill?”

“The bank.”

Her literal answer tickled me so much, it took much a good few minutes to collect myself. “No, no, I meant the idea of sending a $2 bill for Valentine’s Day.”

“Oh. It was just a crazy idea, I guess. We have so many grandchildren and it didn’t cost us too much to do that. Plus $2 bills are unusual and neat.”

“I always thought it was because two is a couple. And Valentine’s Day is a day for couples. Anyways, did I ever tell you I carry one of the $2 bills in my wallet so whenever I see it I think of you and Jobo.”

“That’s good. You’ll always have a little bit of money then.”

“And a little bit of my grandparents wherever I go.”

Her reason and my interpretation may differ, but the love between us is the same.



It was one of our longest conversations and while we covered topics both old and new, it wasn’t a groundbreaking discussion. I took notes, like usual, keeping track of particular sentiments, advice, and/or funny turns of phrase.

“I will always be interested in what you’re doing and where you’re going.”

Maga said it after asking me if I had any upcoming travel plans. As I recited my lack of plans for the fourth time, my pen trailed over the words. Each pass darkened the letters until they stood out in stark contrast, until they left their imprint on the page underneath, until they were embossed on my heart.

And like that, this Tuesday night felt a little less lonely.