“How are you tonight?” I asked.

“I’m sort of good.”

“Just sort of?”

“Well, I’m getting up there in age.”

“Fair point.”

“Do you still do your Tuesday night activity?”

“Trivia. No, we’re on a bit of a hiatus.”

“Why’s that?”

“My boss’s wife is sick.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Was she part of the festivities?”

“Sometimes. But we’d always go to their house beforehand…”

“Oh, so you’d have connections with her at that point.”

“You got it.”

“Is she nice?”


“And your boss? He’s nice?”


“How old is he?”

“In his 40’s.”

“He’s young!”


“Trust me. That’s young!”

“Oh! Maga. What was your favorite decade of life so far? 20’s? 50’s? 90’s?”

“Hmmm. I’d probably say my 30’s.”

“Why’s that?”

“I had all my family and the kids were old enough to leave so I could go on trips with Jobo. He was a geologist with oil and gas companies so he traveled all over the world and it was nice to go along with him.”

“I bet! You guys had some amazing trips.”

“We really did.”

“Who did you leave the kids with if you and Jobo were together?”

“I had some really good caregivers, I mean, sitters I could leave the kids with.”

I made a mental note to check in with Mom and Aunt J to see if they concurred. Meanwhile, I reveled in Maga’s willingness to share details because sometimes having to recall things overwhelms her.

“I wonder what Jobo would have thought about all this climate change…?”

“I guess that did start after he passed.”

“Well, the effects of it started to really show after he died, yes, but it had started while he was still alive.”

“He paid a lot of attention to the climate, so he probably would be very interested in it.”

Even though the details of climate change are scary and vast, listening to Maga talk about Jobo made the situation temporarily less so.



“And how was your big weekend?” Maga asked.


“How long was everyone there for?”

“Until yesterday because they got snowed in.”

“I’d heard the East Coast was having bad weather. Did you get a lot of snow?”

“Not really. Only about 4-5″. It was the sleet and freezing rain that caused most of the trouble.”

“Did you take lots of pictures?”

“Not really.”

“Oh, stop. You must have taken at least one. I’ll bet your mom did.”

“Actually, she took the least out of all of us.”

“Well, I’d love to see one.” (There was a lot of stress on that word “one.”)

“We were too busy to take pictures. We were just enjoying being together and experiencing things.”

“But the pictures make it memorable.”

“Isn’t it the experiences that make it memorable?”

“With pictures you can look back and remember it clearly.”

“I mean there are some pictures, but they’re just silly and not that good. Besides, I can remember all the fun things we did without looking at the pictures.”

“Well, I’d love to see one. I’m sure it’ll be a weekend that lives on in your memory.”

(Which is it, Maga? I thought. Will I remember it via my mind or only with my eyes??)

“I’ll tell my mom. She’ll get one for you.”

“She’s going to be so busy with her Wellesley Reunion Book.”

“Is she ever!”

“That’s very important work she’s doing for a big year. 50th anniversary.”

“What year are you on?” I asked.

“I graduated in ’42. You tell me.”

“Uh,” I scrambled, “Math is hard.” I counted fingers (don’t judge)…”67 years.”

“No! It can’t be,” Maga said. “Oh my.”

I pulled up the calculator and started laughing. “Actually, Maga, it’s 77 years!”

“Well guess what. In the last yearbook, my year had been eliminated.”


“Yes! The earliest year with pictures is 1943. I was 1942. I guess there’s not many of us left.”

“That’s terrible!”

“I agree.”

And just like that her argumentative tone on having pictures clicked into place and my heart softened. The rest of the conversation was conducted in gentler tones.



“How’s your weather been so far this winter,” Maga asked.

“Really good, actually. I just started wearing my proper winter coat this week.”

“That’s good?”

“Yes! I didn’t need it until January! That’s exciting. And we haven’t had any snow yet. I consider that a huge win.”

“Do you get a lot of snow there?”


“Oh dear.”

“Wait. Didn’t you get a lot of snow when you were at Wellesley?”

“I suppose we did. I don’t really remember. It was probably just enough to turn it all white.”

“A dusting is about all I can handle.”

“I don’t know if it’s my old age, but I do not like snow anymore.”

“If it’s old age, then I’m that age too.”

Maga chuckled. “Aren’t you celebrating something this weekend with your mom and sisters?”

“Yes! [Sister J]’s birthday.”

“How old is she?”


“Is that so? My oh my. How time flies.”

An hour earlier, I witnessed Sister J claim she could facetime multiple people and then call out to her 8yo for directions on how to do so, so I too can attest that “my oh my, how time flies.” We are already turning to the younger generation for help.

Let’s hope Maga’s other claim that [my home state] only gets enough snow to turn the landscape white comes true. Although, the birthday celebrations (shenanigans) will not be dampened whatever the weather!



My phone rang, and having gotten home earlier than anticipated, I checked the screen. It was Maga! “How sweet,” I thought. “She’s calling to wish me a happy birthday.”

“Hi, Maga!” I answered.

Light, rapid breaths came through the line – the sort which indicate she was actively thinking about something and filtering through things before speaking.

“Hi, Maga,” I repeated.



“Oh, dear. I didn’t…I mean… I was working through my phone and clearing numbers of people who called recently and it must have gotten jumbled.”

“So, you didn’t mean to call me.”

“No, afraid not. And since we spoke yesterday we’re all set until next week, aren’t we?”

“I guess so.”

“Okay, bye.”

Well, that sure blew out the birthday candles I hadn’t yet lit…



“How are you, Maga?” I asked.

“Well, it’s lonely here.”

“I know the feeling.”

“I sure wish we were closer.”

“Me too. But since we’re not, these phone calls are intended to help bridge that gap between visits.”

“Thank goodness for Alexander Graham Bell.”

“Yes, indeed.”

“Isn’t today Monday?”

“Yes, actually, it is. I have more time tonight than tomorrow and as we were just saying loneliness is around and I wanted to make sure to check in with you.”

“Thank you, dear.”

We spoke about the weather, my siblings, my house, meandered over to the topic of my work…”What are the hours you work?” Maga asked.

“9am to 5pm.”

“Oh, 9 to 5. The usual working hours.”

“Well, usual for this working force. Your hours were more like 24 hours a day.”

The truth tickled Maga. “Why yes, you’re right. When you raise four children, the hours are a bit longer.”

“Quite a bit.”

“And [Sister E]? How’s her job going? Tell me what it is again.”

“The easiest way to explain it is that she teaches / trains people how to use a product.”

“What’s the product?”


Maga was silent for a spell.

I continued. “It’s for computers.”

“Oh. Everything’s all about computers these days.”

“What about the gift from my parents? Have you used that?”

“What’s it called again?”

“An iPad.”

“And how does it work?”


“And you plug it in and that’s what [Sister E] teaches people how to use?”

I was silent for a spell. “No, no, no. Your gift and [Sister E]’s job are unrelated. Maga, are you wearing your hearing aid?”



“Wait. No, I’m not.”

“I suspected you weren’t.”

“Oh, well, I forgive you.”

“Umm, thank you?”

I’m sure it wasn’t her game plan, but the act of her not putting in her hearing aid actually extended the conversation, as I had to repeat words and phrases and concepts until she understood what I was talking about. Maybe I should have stuck to the weather? Or maybe I should just appreciate the extra time together with Maga, no matter the volume levels or topic(s) of conversation.