“Well,” Maga said, “I went to the funeral of a friend from the country club today. It was a very large affair. There were a lot of people there. So I’m feeling a bit tired today.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Both about your friend and about you being tired. It was very nice of you to attend the ceremony.”

“Yes, I suppose it was.”

“Did you have dinner there or at your care center.”

“Here in the dining room.” Maga’s voiced was laced with dread. “It’s so creepy watching all these old people spilling on themselves and the tables.”

“I can imagine it doesn’t exactly incite your appetite.”

“No. It doesn’t. How’s the weather there?”

I gladly accepted the change in subject and directed it even further away as I described my upcoming family trip, though we got stalled a bit when she asked me to spell the town name and her hearing + the pitch of my voice switched “a”s and “o”s and I didn’t have the stamina to spell it 37 more times.

“How many of you will there be?” she asked.


“My goodness. How’d we get such a big family?”

“I certainly had nothing to do with it.”

“Well, yes. I know. And I was an only child.”

“But you started this family, so you had a lot to do with it!”

“Well, yes. I know. I didn’t want to have an only child, so we kept working at it to make it bigger and bigger.”

I inappropriately giggled to myself. I felt I earned it after her earlier comment. In the midst of my juvenile spiral, the changing of the guard happened and rounds and rounds of goodbyes and goodnights took place.

When Maga turned her attention back to me, she said, “Sorry about that. Lots of goodbyes and see you laters.”

Considering where our conversation started, I’m supremely happy we are still at the “hello” stage.



“Did you have a ball game tonight?” Maga asked.

“Nope. A haircut. Ball game is tomorrow night, though I can’t make that because I’ll be traveling for work.”

“A haircut. Well, that’ll make you feel good.”

“I do feel fresh and bouncy, actually.”

“When’s your next ball game?”

“Tomorrow. But I won’t be there.”

“Why not?”

“Work trip to a printing plant. Where all the equipment is. Where they make the books.”

“Oh, how interesting. I went on some trips like that.”

“To manufacturing plants?”


“What did they make there?”

“They printed things.”

“You went to some printing plants?! How cool. Why were you there?”

“I didn’t go to very many. But more than one. I think. I can’t remember. It’s been a long time.”

Maga pondered her memories and I pondered her statement both of us wondering who we could verify this information with. She turned to a safer topic before I could grill her some more.

“How’s the weather there?” she said.

“Summery. Sunny. Hot. Humid. Finally.”

“Here too. It got up to the 90s today.”

“That’s quite warm. It was lovely here. 80s.”

“Did you have a ball game tonight?”

“Nope. Just a haircut.”

We boxed a few more rounds about the weather and my schedule (“You sure are busy”) while hiccups punctuated her comments.

“I try to be.”

“It’s hard from this distance to keep your schedule straight.”

“You don’t need to worry about that.”

“I guess I don’t. I just need to know when it’s Tuesday because that’s our day. That’s always been our day.”

That was a comment neither one of us needed outside verification on because our hearts beat with the truth of it and the phone line buzzed with our connection.



“ABBY DEAR! We were just talking about you. Did you try to call last night?”

“I did. Multiple times. I left you a message. Did you not get it?”

“I was on the phone with [Sister J] and [Cousin C], so I must have missed you.”

“Well, I got the answering machine, so you weren’t on the phone. Maybe you were out? Can you get messages on that phone?”

“I have a portable phone that sits on the charger here.”

“Yes. But can you get… Well, regardless, I was especially sad not to talk to you since it was Jobo’s birthday.”

“Yesterday? December 7th?”

“No, yesterday, June 13th. How old would he have been?”

“Let’s see. He was a year older than me, so 97. Can you believe it? That’s so close to 100.”

“In fact it is.”

“It was also [Cousin C’s] birthday. She’s here in Colorado, you know.”

“I do know.” And then I went on to explain the nature of Cousin C’s internship to Maga, who was suitably impressed.

“She just got back from a semester abroad,” Maga said.

“Looks like yet another one of your grandchildren have the travel bug.”

“I guess so. Do you really think that’s from me?”

“I do.”

“Did you tell me you’re going to be in Salt Lake City soon?”

“That was not me, though I wish it was. I’ve never been there. Have you?”

“Yes, I believe I was. Sometime with Jobo I’m sure. But don’t hold me to it.”

“I promise I won’t.”

“I’m so glad we are talking tonight because it sure gets lonely around here.”

“I understand that all too well.”

“Yes, you and me. We understand loneliness.”

Even though she literally took that moment to hang up on me (because a caregiver had arrived with medication), her words “you and I” left a “we” shaped imprint on my heart, which was now beating a less lonely tune.



It’d been a wash out of an evening. First, softball was canceled. Second, the bus (5 minutes away) disappeared from the app that was tracking it, and, from life. 20 rainy minutes later, the next one arrived. Third, Maga was out to dinner when I called and knowing her dinner companion (Uncle T), I feared they’d be chatting longer than the time difference between there and here allowed me to stay awake.

In the meantime, first, I texted with my 12yo nephew on his brand new phone. His dream of having-his-own-phone came true while my dream of having-someone-whose-name-is-alphabetically-above-mine-so-other-people-will-accidentally-dial-him-instead-of-me came true. I’ve been waiting 12 years for this!! Second, I queried my gal A with all my dumb app/internet questions in the hopes of distracting her (and myself) from this gloomy day. Third, I ogled pictures of Sister E with multiple authors. Fame by association. The sun was starting to shine.

I decided to try Maga one more time because I’m 36, not 96, and it’s not really that late at night.

She greeted me with hiccups and indigestion, but they were a sign of big, full dinner around a table with big, full men. “And what have you been up to lately?” she asked.

“Doing lots of interior decorating research.”

“Oh, that is fun.”

“I guess. It’s also expensive, which is why I’m just doing a lot of research right now. Plus, I’m finding it difficult to get paint supplies without a car.”

“It takes time and experience. You can’t expect to decorate overnight.”

“Yeah, but it sure would be nice.”

The familiar pause / lack of sound that meant someone was beeping in interrupted her response. The caregiver’s voice told her it was her other son calling.

“You are so popular, Maga. Dinner with Uncle T tonight. And now Uncle D is calling!”

“I can go days without phone calls and then they all come at once.”

“When it rains, it pours,” I said.