Her sentences were punctuated with wracking coughs. “I’m not sure what’s wrong, but something’s not cooking with gas,” Maga said.

I wasn’t sure whether to chuckle or wince. The coughs were different than usual, and so I settled on worrying while she asked her caregiver for water.

“I should let you rest your voice,” I said.

“Yes, that’s probably best.”

It was a conversation filled more with waiting than talking. Her to catch her breath. Me for her voice to return. But even in those beats, we were together as usual on Tuesday. Sometimes, that’s everything.



I climbed in the Lyft, and as we sat in traffic, Mom texted the coast was clear to call Maga (in case that had been me beeping through earlier). It wasn’t, but as the car continued to sit more than move, I thought my only chance for a Tuesday conversation might be now. Before I could act, my phone rang. It was Maga.

She clearly had her conversation with my mom on her mind, as she peppered me with questions about my upcoming family trip. She knew the big picture, but not so much with the details. I filled in the missing parts, though somewhat hesitantly, as I was sitting in a quiet car whose driver had my home address, and now, the dates I won’t be there.

Yes, I answered Maga’s call, but ugh, life is hard when it’s not on my own schedule.

I guess I have to trust in the decency of this Lyft driver. In the kindness of strangers.

Much like Maga has to do with the caregivers who surround her daily/nightly. We tell her she’s lucky and to calm down and that she’s in the best possible situation, but 97 years of life can make the details hard to remember and in the absence of those, the big emotions come forward. Like obsessing about how a Lyft driver might be planning to rob your house months from now.

Why, yes, in fact this traffic is so slow that I’m now equating it with having lived 97 years. Sometimes, you gotta let the big emotions roll.



Maga held the most recent set of pictures Sister J sent to her. She couldn’t get enough of the colors and smiles and asked me to go over the kids’ ages for her. I put on my aunt hat and recited them. She then asked me when my parents were next visiting. I put on my daughter hat, searched through my mental files of their upcoming trips, and figured out approximately when they’d next be in her neck of the woods.

“I hope we get to visit again soon,” Maga said.

“Me too.”

“I know I’m living in a good place, but it sure does get lonely.”

“Don’t I know it,” I agreed, wearing nothing but my Abby hat.

“Not much fun living by yourself, is it?”

“It has its perks, but, yes, it does get awfully lonely.”

“And you’ve got a good job and friends, so that’s a little bit of all right.”

As we talked, I’d been sitting next to a bouquet of flowers given to me as a (belated) housewarming present from two former coworkers. I had a belly full of food eaten during a night spent surrounded by my (winning) trivia team. And I had to admit Maga had a point. Things currently are a little bit of all right, even if only for this specific moment in time.



The first trivia game (What Do You Know Trivia) was full of lead changes and trick questions, but ultimately, got the best of my team.

The second trivia game (HQ) was glitching its way through two rounds while various family members texted their confusion and dismay and possible answers.

I limped out of one game and tumbled into another and after similar outcomes in both (failure), I called Maga. She was dismayed by the late arrival of her pill bearer and the pain in her knee and however was she going to be able to sleep?

“Your pill person often comes while we’re talking. I bet he’s working his way to you now,” I soothed.

“Why are you calling so late?”

“I couldn’t let a Tuesday go by without hearing your voice.”

“Last week you called on a different day.”

“Fair. The week before last, I called on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then last week, I called on a Monday. But still, if I can talk to you on a Tuesday, I do!”

The positivity in my voice fell as flat as the rest of the events tonight.

What’s a girl to do to combat all that negativity? Do something she knows she’ll succeed at. Me? I folded a fitted sheet. It’s complex and gets the best of most people, but it remains in my arsenal of skills (thank you, Mom), and hey, whatever gets the positivity flowing!


4.25.18 + 4.30.18

“You’re calling earlier than usual. Did you not go to your game night?” Maga asked of me both times I called. I’m such a creature of habit, she just assumed it was Tuesday. It wasn’t. Once it was Wednesday. Once it was Monday. I called Wednesday because Tuesday was so busy. I called Monday because Tuesday was shaping up to be as equally busy.

“Life is not as jolly as it could be,” Maga said. In a lot of ways, yes. In a lot of other ways, no. But a granddaughter learns to pick her battles.

“Have you got any trips planned,” Maga asked, and when the details were repeated to her, she said, “I wish I wasn’t 97 and could travel with you.” I reminded her of her prior travels so she could look back fondly and promised to send postcards and take lots of pictures so she could have something to look forward to.

“I’ve got to get up and get going early which is not the way I do things. I’m a slow starter.” Maga said it in relation to an upcoming doctor’s appointment and, I suppose, her current lifestyle. I heard it in relation to my writing and, I suppose, my current lifestyle.

The parallels and perpendiculars between our conversations and our lives are too numerous for me to be anything but angry with my high school math teacher who claimed I’d need this math in the “real world.”

I hate it when other people are right, particularly math teachers.