“Oh, Abby dear. Hello!” Maga said.

“Hi! How are you feeling?”

“Well…” Her voice, stronger than I was expecting, trailed off. “I don’t want to complain.”

“If you need to complain, go for it.”


I admit I was forewarned about her potential state of mind. She has a ruptured disk in her back and the pain has been at maximum capacity. I was expecting… not to reach her… to be honest. And I definitely wasn’t expecting her usual tone or cadence so when I heard her voice, I was immediately cheered and inspired to maintain a similar tone.

“How is your weather?” she asked in an effort at normalcy or maybe just to distract herself, I wasn’t entirely sure. I decided to play along.

“It’s very August. Hot and humid,” I said.

“Any rain?”

“Not yet. That’s probably why it’s so hot and humid still.”

“Well, if it rains at night, so be it.”

She had a point, which I made her clarify to be sure. If it rains at night, you still have the whole day to enjoy. But what I wanted her to know is that sometimes it’s okay if it rains during the day, when you expect it to be sunny, when you want it to be sunny, or if you’re hoping for sun. The pain can add up and bear down, and it’s totally fine to embrace the dark clouds and wallow in it all. As long as she knows (and you too, dear Reader) there are people who love and cherish her (and you, dear Reader) and appreciate any attempt to put on a cheerful front and slog through the pain and rain.



“Have you seen any family lately?” Maga asked.

“Nope. They’ve all been visiting you!”

“Oh, well yes, I guess they have.”

Her words as she retold recent events were bright and happy. During the middle of explaining about her most recent guests, it dawned on her I might be equally fond of them. “Do you like having nieces and nephews?”

“Are you kidding? IT’S THE BEST.”

“It is kind of special, isn’t it?”

I wholeheartedly agreed, but for as much as we have in common, this isn’t one of those things. She has no siblings and so she created the family that surrounds her. Meanwhile, all I did was have the good fortune to be born into this family and inherit the folks I share a name with. She raised four kids (and helped with twelve grandkids and nine great grandkids). I just have to remember six nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays. (Which I do with pride and pleasure.)

But then again, how different can we really be when our paths intersect every Tuesday evening?



I ran up the stairs as if I was trying to beat curfew. (I never actually had one, but I can imagine.) I knew I was pushing the limits of our two hour time difference, but I had to get the call in.

“Maga, hi!” I tried to hide how breathless I was.

“Abby, dear. I was thinking about you earlier tonight and wondering if we would be able to connect.”

“I’m sorry it’s so late. My night ran long.”

Before we got too much further into our conversation, “There’s my pill lady,” Maga said. “I take a bunch of medicine at night, so I’m going to have to go eat my pills now. I’m sorry to cut this short.”

“It’s no problem. My evening ran a lot later than I intended it to, so it’s my fault for calling so late.”

“I love talking to you anytime.”

“And I to you.”

It was a short, sweet conversation that covered the oft-tread topics of the weather, my whereabouts, and her medications, but at 97, I’ll take whatever words she (and I) can spare before curfew hits.

feelings, travel


“Was the weather in Greece pretty good?” Maga asked.

“Depends on your definition of good.”

“To me, that’s sunshine and warm weather.”

“Then, yes.” Not wanting to alarm or cause envy, I didn’t expand upon the suffocating heat or gloriousness of a country that focuses on finding the best angle for the sunset each evening.

“What was your favorite part?” Maga asked.

“Probably the island where J and G got married.”

“That was Paros?”

“You got it!”

“Very good, yes.”

“It was big enough to be interesting, yet small enough not to be too touristy. We spent five days there so we got to know the island as well. It was wonderful.”

“And G’s father. Did you make it up to northern Greece to see him?”

“I did yes. He is such a lovely person.”

“Does he speak good English?”

“He knows about 5 words of English, while I know about 3 words of Greek…”

“So you didn’t have many heavy conversations?”

“Not really, no, but he was so welcoming and generous and you’d be surprised how much you can convey over a table full of food and wine and smiles.”

And it’s true. You can have entire conversations through the lifting of a glass of ouzo or the pointing at a dish of squid with raised eyebrows. There are lessons available within the slices of honeydew and chopped bits of figs he brought to the table. I may have only learned 3 words of Greek over two weeks, but I learned infinitely more with the use of my other senses.