“Did you try to call me just now?” Maga said.
“I did. But the phone was weird. Your answering machine didn’t pick up.”
“I was on the other line.”
“Talking to anyone I know?”
“An old neighbor friend.”
“Oh, that’s so nice! How is she?”
“Well, she’s having trouble with one of her doctors and wanted to tell somebody about it.”
“Oh, umm, that’s not so nice.”
“Hold on, Abby dear. It’s the changing of the guard.” I then spent the better part of 10 minutes “on hold” while Maga said goodbye to one caregiver and hello to the next one. And by “on hold” I mean she put the phone in her lap and I eavesdropped on the entire conversation. It’s probably best I did because the night caregiver arrived slightly late, which always sets Maga in a tizzy, so I was able to get the lay of the land and turned up the sunshine in my voice a few extra notches.
“Yes, I’m still here. Hi, Maga.”
“Are you there?”
“I don’t know this new lady.” Her voice was frazzled, though her words were confident.
“She’s been there before on multiple Saturdays. You’re in good hands.”
“I don’t remember her.”
“Well, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been there. It just means you’re almost 98…”
That got the chuckle I was hoping for.
“What have you been up to lately?”
“I was down in NC visiting my Aunt A.”
“Oh, yes! I liked her very much when we knew each other. It was awhile ago. I’d love to see her again.”
I thought about how they probably hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in decades, but how Maga still wanted her to visit. Or how she was willing to quiet her own complaining to listen to the gripes of her elderly neighbor. My heart ached with the loneliness she must be feeling. I turned the sunshine in my voice up a few more notches, as I detailed my father’s family tree for her.
“Is work going well?” Maga asked.
“Sure.” (I said desperately clinging onto the sunshine…)
“That’s sort of yes.”
“Well, that’s how we’ll put it for now.”
And with that new definition, I felt better. The sunshine in my voice wasn’t forced for the remainder of our time together.