“I had such a wonderful, wonderful time with all of my family here for my big birthday,” Maga said.

“Me too! I’m so lucky I was able to make it out to see you.”

“It gets lonely here, you know. When you have a husband and four children and it’s busy and wonderful and then they’re all moved away or gone. It’s lonely.”

My heart broke. “I get to see you again in two weekends!” I said in a rush to combat the dark shadow of loneliness. It’s a thing I understand all too well. And something I continually hope to reduce with my regular phone calls.

“You do?”

“Yes, I have a work thing. It’s a very short trip, but I’ll definitely have time to see you.”

“How wonderful! What time do you get in?”

“Very very late on Friday.”

“Oh, don’t call me then. Call me Saturday morning. Oh, but you have to work. We can talk on Sunday then. Or before that. We’ll handle it…the way it should be done.”

“We will.” After going over the details 3x prior to this, her sudden retention of detail + demands + willingness to let the details sort themselves out caught me off guard. In a good way.

“I get confused,” she said.

“About what?” I said, confused.


“You seem to be understanding it all okay right now.” Which was the truth. She’d been very engaged in the conversation up to this point.

“Yes, I mean, I’m okay mostly but sometimes I get confused. It happens at 96. I just wish we could do my birthday weekend all over again. Well, you and I will soon.”

And we will. We’ll turn our Tuesday night phone calls into more weekend time together hoarding sunshine and memories to help with any future bouts of loneliness.



As usual, our conversation started off with the weather. “The snow and the cold. I just don’t like it anymore,” Maga said.

“Me neither.”

“Think it’s because we’re getting older?”


“The snow. It just gets in your way. It’s awkward. Maybe I should move to Florida.”

“But it’s supposed to be nice this weekend for your birthday. Are you excited?”

“I am I guess. I’m not too happy about how old I’m getting though.”

“It’s quite an accomplishment.”

“If you say so.”

“What was one of your favorite years? Like, how old were you?”

“In my life?”


“Oh golly day.” The phone line crackled with her thought process. “Well, I’d have to say the year I was at Wellesley when I met Jobo. He was a special man, as you know.”

“I do know.”

She shifted back to the weather. A safer, more controllable topic. I indulged her for some time, but I couldn’t help but express my enthusiasm one last time before we hung up.

“I’m really excited to see you this weekend,” I said.

“I’m going to have to buy more film.”

“Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities for pictures.”

“And that way I’ll have something to look at and remember once you’re all gone. But before that, I’ll be counting down the days and hours and minutes until you get here.”

Me too, Maga. Me too.



I called at the usual time, but the caregivers were in the midst of switching from the day lady to the night lady, and chit chat with me was cast aside due to the attention Maga needed to say goodbye to her beloved day lady and welcome her (new to her though she was there last week) night lady. And so with only 5 minutes logged, Maga didn’t leave with me much to report.


Niece M needed to interview me for a class project this week. She lives even further away from me than Maga and so my aunt duties are sadly limited. If we were geographically closer, I’d be helping out with homework on a more regular basis, and so, I was beyond thrilled to get this chance to do so.

The interview involved some hard hitting questions that had me fumbling and mumbling and thinking aloud. Describing values and beliefs and religion and knowledge is difficult in its own right, but to do so while simultaneously being blown away by what a fine young woman your niece has become?

High school is hard.

Even if you’re not the student anymore!

Niece M explained how the interview would shake out, but I was so taken aback by the first question, she had to prod me along which she did with compassionate and gentleness and never once did I feel as stupid as I’m sure I sounded. (Did I mention the conversation was recorded?)

Yes, I’m aware my oldest niece is insanely special and smart and caring and funny and adorable, but to have the chance to have an adult conversation with her? And to get to speak highly of her dad to her? And to have tangible evidence of her growing up? And to be able to be included in a routine homework project? Thank you to her teacher for allowing me that.

(This was almost as good as getting to have family dinners every week. Another aunt dream of mine.)

Even though my conversations with Maga involve the past and my conversation with Niece M involved the future, I learned a lot about, of, and from both of these ladies.



“My head is twirling. Are you looking at a calendar? At my advanced age, I don’t do too much. My house is empty and devoid of a lot of things. I’ll need to see what’s going on on my end. I think I’ll call J and C. Thank you for calling with all of this good news.”

Maga’s exclamations were vast and hurried and continued and repeated. I was merely trying to explain my two upcoming visits which I’d hoped would give her things to look forward to.

It did.


The news simultaneously overwhelmed her.

I explained the details again and again and told her that we could pretend I lived locally since I’d get to see her twice in three weeks. Her voice was shaky with excitement and nerves as she thought out loud about what we could do to keep things interesting.

“I’m happy just to visit with you,” I said.

“If you insist,” she said.

I did. I do. I am.