There was quite a bit of back and forth, but we managed to connect.

“MAGA! HI!” I fairly shouted.

“Oh, Abby, dear. So glad we could connect. I’m sorry I was busy earlier, but the pill lady arrived and when you’re 97, that’s a big part of your life.”

“Are you feeling okay? Your back?”

“I have spells when it hurts quite a bit more, but my knee is the really bad part of me.”

“Well, you do live in Colorado. Have you ever tried, you know, maraijuana?”

“Would a doctor prescribe that?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps?”

“My right knee pain is so localized. I don’t know if it would be helpful. I get a cream 2-3x a day right now. Not sure what would be better than that. All those tennis games that went to my knees.”

We chuckled and commiserated and discussed the pictures that came from the most recent glamorous family event. And then Maga dropped some very big family gossip that I won’t repeat.

I was suitably blown away by that news + the dating advice she felt the need to dispense upon me: “you don’t want to get a bad [guy], that wouldn’t work out so well” + the disappearing act she pulled shortly thereafter. I mean are dating habits nurture and not nature? Can I be taught better dating habits via a 97 year old who lives hundreds of miles away?

(I guess anything’s worth a shot, right?)



The day was any other Tuesday. The day was unique unto itself. Work was the same. Work was different. New leadership. I became some leadership. I followed. The day dragged. The day sped along. Trivia came and went. There was a substitute host. We were in the lead. We lost it. We had a new waitress. She didn’t know our orders. We were answering all the questions correct. We had a fighting chance. We blew it.

All of a sudden, the minutes rang out and I was usually 3/4 of the way home by now. I’d have to call Maga on the drive home. I apologized to the driver who took the first of two possible U-turns without any prompting and bless his soul. Yes!

Maga answered, “Hello, dear,” without any identifying information given by me. I was technically earlier than usual (if by usual you mean the past year, but not the 9-10 years prior to that.) We had our usual chat about the weather (we got doused by Tropical Storm Florence. she got hot heat hot hot august weather) and location (yes, I was at Trivia) and family (all doing grand). On my end, there was nothing (minus me not having a pen and paper to jot down her best lines) holding back the conversation. There were clear skies and no more puddles and all the U turns (yes, this drive requires at least two, sometimes three). It was clear sailing until the pill ladies arrived and outside forces shook our usual Tuesday night conversation.

We spoke of nothing much but everything in between. We were so far apart but closer than ever before.



First, I spilled water over the entire table at lunch. Second, I caught my (cheap but beloved Target) leather jacket on a random nail on a telephone pole and ripped my sleeve as I walked by it. Third, the early evening took a turn even I wasn’t anticipating. Work bled into life outside the office. I offered my opinion at a time when I normally wouldn’t. I was more involved with work politics than I intended, wanted, or cared to be.

And then, of all things, the Governor of Boston was having a meeting at the local bar where we attend trivia every Tuesday evening. We couldn’t get into the bar, but we could see the Governor leaving, and, like all politicians, in person, he was 1,000,00% more charismatic than he appeared on TV.

Because of all that, the Trivia game started later than usual, so I stepped out in the third quarter to call Maga. We chatted while my team fought to stay alive. There was bridge work and crazy loud machinery, but she could, of course, hear me without any problems. (Minus me wishing I could be inside “helping” my team.) (Yet she can’t always hear me in my quiet apartment?) We chatted about the usuals and I promised to call her back within an hour as she claimed I wouldn’t be interrupting her bedtime routine or anything.

“So how’d your game end up?” Maga asked when I called back for round two.

“We were second place. $20.”

“Oh, you can put that towards the car you’ll buy.”

I snickered, but collected myself, “Well, it’s actually $20 to split between the team of five players, so it went towards the appetizers.”

“Well, I’m glad you got home safely and well.”

I couldn’t fault her logic. As a single female, there are a couple of friends I have a code with to indicate when we’ve gotten home safely, so it was delightful to add her to the list of people who care when I’ve reached home.

I turned the subject towards her because she’s the one who’s lived 97 years and has way more interesting stories. Plus, she’s the one who went to undergrad here in the greater Boston area. She knows a lot. But due to either the time of night (11pm here, 9pm her time) or the number of years she’s lived (97), she quickly deflected the question…”It’s been so long since I’ve been at Wellesley, I’m sorry I can’t tell you completely.”

I know my probing question hit a nerve for Maga, but weirdly, her deflection felt wildly familiar, because, you know, I didn’t particularly want to talk about anything other than the weather or how my trivia team did. I know this isn’t the way people get to know each other, but then again, when one half of the party is 97 year old, sometimes all you’re left with are the tidbits and ripped patches of a cheap Target jacket…



“Oh, Abby, dear. I just called you,” Maga said.

“You did?”

“Yes. But it said the phone number I dialed was invalid.”


“Let me see here. I dialed…” She rattled off nine of ten correct digits. “Is that your number?”

“Not quite. In the area code, the two is actually a one.”

“Oh, I see. The two is sort of blurred. I guess it could be a one.”

Numbers blurry and confusing? Maybe it’s her handwriting or eyesight after 97 years. Maybe it’s her abilities with math? Maybe it’s just MY abilities with math, but truer words have never been spoken in my presence.

I love finding the ways in which our brains overlap. Like a Venn Diagram. Hey, maybe I’m not such a lost cause when it comes to math!