“Happy Halloween,” I said. “Did you celebrate today?”

“We had a bit of a party downstairs. I didn’t have a costume but they still let me in, so I guess that was alright. Did you celebrate?”

“My neighbors and I sat on our front porch and handed out candy. It was my first time doing so in Boston because I never got kids at any of my other places.”

“That sounds like fun.”

“Did you like Halloween when you were younger?”

“Oh yes. When I was a kid and then when I had kids. It was fun to open the door to the neighboring children. But those days are long past.”

“But you have the memories. Those you can cherish.”

“And the photographs. Those are handy and helpful.”

The idea of sorting through all of the photographs in her house (trick) in an attempt to find the Halloween ones (treat)…


10.20.17 + 10.24.17 + 10.25.17

I dialed Maga’s number on 10/20 to give her some family updates. “Abby?! You won’t believe it.”

“What?” I said, my heart dropping thinking she had some inside line on the updates and knew more than me.

“I was just watching TV. It was sort of dull and I thought of you.”

Oh, Maga. Always keeping me grounded.

On 10/24, our usual night, I gave her a quick ring. “Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Abby, dear. Can I call you back in a bit? I’m just about to go to lunch.” Before I could question which meal she was headed to, she corrected herself. “I mean dinner.”

“Actually, I have a softball game in a bit and I’ll be home too late to call you back.”

“Oh, well, how about tomorrow?”


There was mass confusion as Maga picked up on the phone tonight because her nighttime caregiver wasn’t there yet.

“Can I call you back, Abby? We need to track down the sitter.”


As I was reciting my phone number for the umpteenth time, the person in question showed up and so the daytime caregiver, M, told Maga to keep talking to me. She tried to hang up 2 or 3 times, but M kept assuring Maga everything was fine and to stick with the conversation. I held the line and eavesdropped.

Suddenly, Maga’s muffled voice came back on the line. “My nighttime sitter was late and I am not happy about it.”

“Maga. It’s okay. People run late. It happens from time to time.”

“It happens to me quite often. I understand it.”

And yet I couldn’t quite understand her rage and poor attempt to talk about someone who was surely sitting less than 20 feet away.

“Tell me about your plans for this week. Any lunch or dinners out?” I said.

“I have lunch plans with C on Thursday. You remember her? She’s your mother’s friend.”

“And she’s my godmother, so yes, I know her very well. She’s the best.”

“I’m very fond of her.”


We waxed some more poetry about C and about the weather there (80 today, snow tomorrow) and the weather here (constant rain) before she once again tried to hang up so she could figure out the transition from one caregiver to the next.

“Thank you for calling,” Maga said.

“Sure thing.”

“Good enough.”

For a week that contained multiple phone calls, we sure had a hard time connecting.



“Abby, dear! You’re back!” Maga didn’t question why I was calling on a Monday.

“I am. Still a bit jet lagged, but getting back into the swing of things.”

“Did you happen to send me a postcard?”

“Of course. I mailed it on Saturday, so it’ll take some time to get to you because I don’t think they have mail services on Sundays and then Hurricane Ophelia hit them today, so you’ll have to be patient.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a postcard from Ireland.”

“You will in a few days time!”

I’m certain she could hear the smile in my voice as I went over the details of my trip + my travel companions more than once. “I’ve gotten it all straightened out in my mind now,” Maga said. “It sure is nice to have company to travel with.”

“I am very lucky in that regard.”

“You sure are the traveler of the family.”

“I certainly have held that title of late.”

I’ve had strong traveling role models in the forms of Maga, Jobo, and my parents. Hmm, does that make the travel bug something I’ve developed by nature or nurture (or maybe a mixture of both)?




The phone rang and rang and I set up my salad (I got home late) and water and pen and paper and rang and rang and, “Oops,” I thought, “she’s probably on the other line.” Her phone is one of the last dinosaurs in the US that doesn’t send you to voicemail if the person is unavailable and while I was setting up my phone call space, I was only half paying attention. Anyways, I hung up the phone and dug into my dinner.

A couple of minutes later, Maga called me. “WHAT?!?” I thought. She rarely calls. It’s always me doing the initiating. (Look at her. 96 and playing hard to get. ;)) “Maga, hi!”

“Abby, dear? Is that you?” As if she hadn’t just dialed my number.

“Of course it is, Maga. You called me! Were you just on the other line? I tried you a moment ago.”

“I thought I’d give you a call tonight before your big trip. I dialed your number, but then your mother answered.”

“Oh, so that’s who you were talking to.” (And, oh, that’s why she was so cautious when I answered.)

“She had company over so she had to go and I tried dialing your number again.”

“Here I am.”

“You’re quite the traveler of the family.”

“I have been recently that’s for sure.”

We spoke of my upcoming trip and when I tried to prod her memory for details about what she liked when she’d visited the country, she said, “I don’t think Jobo and I were there. Or if we were, we didn’t spend much time there. I don’t really remember right now. My memory is fading.”

Her memory may not be what it used to be, but her legacy is alive and thriving in every bit of travel that I do. She traveled widely and my mom travels broadly and I’m just attempting to follow in their footsteps. It’s a big world. Someone’s got to see it all!