“And how was your Thanksgiving dinner?” I said.

“Not great,” Maga said. “There’s a lot of older people who take their time with meals.”

Knowing she is 97 and eats with a delicate precision unless dessert is involved, I played along. “But at least the food was good, right?”

“I don’t know why the food isn’t better. The service is also very slow. I don’t really like it here.”

“But you had Aunt J and Uncle P for company.”

“Yes, true.”

“When they’re not there, do you chat with anyone in the dining room?”

“Oh, yes. I have some friends I eat meals with.”

“What do you guys talk about?”

“Our families. The weather. It’s not very stimulating conversation. They’re all old!”

My adoration of her bubbled over and I couldn’t contain the chuckles.

“Some of them have local family. Some don’t. I sure wish my family was closer.”

“But, Maga. You have Aunt J and Uncle P! All I have nearby are the ghosts of Wellesley to keep me company.” (My wit had to be repeated and translated due to her hearing and inability to hear certain tones of my voice…) (Sigh.)

“True, true. Mom and Grandmom.”

“Your mom went to Wellesley?!?” I fairly shrieked as I was stuck on high volume from the previous bit.

“No no no. I’m your grandmom.”

“Oh! Ha. Right. Did Nana go to college? Or was that too long ago?”

“She went to kindergarten training school.”

Usually we’re talking about the family that came from Maga, not where she came from, so I took the chance to keep her talking about her mother. Yes, it’s Monday, but I had Christmas carols playing in the background and nothing but time for Maga, who happened to be on the ball tonight. Sure, things started off with nursing homes full of cranky old people, but it ended with nursing homes full of loved ones who were content with their surroundings (aka Nana).

Hopefully the lesson wasn’t obvious only to me.



“How’s the weather in Boston?” Maga asked.

“Not sure. I’m not there. I’m in [different location].”

“Oh, that’s right. You’re with [Brother G]’s family for the holiday. I’m so glad you’re there. I think families should get together as often as they can.”

As I was in the midst of agreeing with her, my surroundings registered and I realized I was literally standing in front of a handmade item she crafted for Brother G upon his birth.

“Maga!” I cried, “Guess what’s in front of me right now? A cross stitch picture of a train with G’s name, his birth year, and your initials.”

“What year was that?”


“My! That was a long time ago.”

“How did you have time to do all that?”

“Of course I was younger then which meant I had more energy for that sort of thing. Age makes a difference.”


“You know G and his son A were in Denver recently for A’s birthday, and, I guess to see me too.”

“They were 100% there to see you, Maga! Can you believe how grown up A is?”

“Time flies and people’s ages do too.”

She may have been only a mother and never an aunt and I may be only an aunt and never a mother, but we both agree whatever role/shape, families should get together as often as life, time, and finances allow.



I was in an Uber. Maga was in between the changing of the guard. We both had two extra pairs of ears potentially listening to our exchange. She was frazzled while waiting for her youngest son to arrive from the airport. I attempted to calm her, but she wasn’t having it. My ride arrived the bar and my one trivia teammate dashed inside (we were late) while I stayed outside checking to make sure she would be okay. Both her daytime caregiver and I explained that Uncle T’s plane had just landed so it would be some time before he arrived at her place, but he’d probably call her soon to check in, so she should sit and relax. She wasn’t having it.

The conversation was short, fraught, and in the middle of a dozen things happening, but sometimes, that’s life.



“Hello, ABBY!” Maga fairly shouted.

Unsure of whether she was happy to talk or chastising me for calling on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday, I answered all of her (repeated) questions cheerfully and clearly as if to atone for my delayed call. Plus, I had a good reason for not being near my phone last night.

“There’s this senator from Massachusetts and she was having a party to celebrate her re-election.”

“Oooh.” Maga sounded suitably impressed. “Did you vote for her?”

“I did.”

“Where there many people there?”


“Where does she live?”

“Oh, this wasn’t at her house. It was at a hotel downtown.”

“So it wasn’t invitation only?”

“Nope. Not this time. I’m just one of the constituents she represents.”

“Did you vote for her?”

“I did.”

“How old is she?”

“Late 60s, I believe.”

“Oh, so she’s more advanced shall we say.”

When Maga was with the conversation, her humor and sharp intelligence were top notch, even though I wasn’t sure which age scale she was referring to. Mine? Hers? If 69 years old is advanced, what’s 97, almost 98? But then she lost the thread and we did a few more rounds of repeated questions. We spoke about our weekend visitors and I jogged her memory about where I went to high school.

“Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I know,” she said. “I’m pulling myself together.”

And for the remainder of the conversation, she persisted.