“What did you do today?” Maga asked.

“I went to work and then got my hair cut.”

“Ever get your hair set?”

“No. I just had it washed, cut, dried.”


“What does ‘getting your hair set’ mean?”

“They wash it with soap and water, rinse it well, and take the curlers, wrap it up. I sit under the dryer for 45 minutes getting it dry and that’s the sum total of it.”

“How often does this happen?”

“Once a week so it’s kept looking fresh.”

“Sounds lovely.”

“There’s John Elway,” Maga said. “Are you watching TV?”

“Nope. I’m talking to you.”

“Well, I’m talking to you and watching TV too.”

“I guess you’re better at multitasking than me,” I said.

“What a ball player he was. He played for the Broncos. Do you know him?”

“I know of him, yes. Did you ever see him play?”

“Oh, yes,” she said and detailed the season tickets she and Jobo had. “I don’t do that anymore because I don’t have a male escort to take me.”

I semi-unsuccessfully bit back my laughter. “Why do you need a male escort?”

“It just helps when you’re crossing streets and trying to find your seat.”

“If you say so.”

“It’s also not for older people. At least not at my age.”

“Now that’s what I thought you were going to say before!”

“What’s that? Oh, there’s John Elway. What a ball player.”

Her unwillingness to commit fully to either this conversation or the TV was driving this away from football and more towards race car territory (aka around and around and around a track we go).

“Do you play any summer sports?” Maga asked.

I detailed my work softball team.

“Do you still do that Tuesday night game night?”

I detailed why not.

“Do you have any upcoming travel?”

I detailed my travel itinerary. “Oh, hey, I sent you a postcard from Nantucket. Did you get it yet?”

“No. When did you send it?”

“Saturday. No, Friday.”

“I haven’t gotten it yet. Maybe I’ll check my mailbox when I go out for a walk in a bit. It might be there today.”

“I know how much you love mail.”

“I really do.”

“Mail is super fun. I bet you get a lot.”

“Not as much as you must with all your friends all over the place.”

“No,” I chuckled. “People don’t really send postcards anymore. It’s more phone calls and text messages.”

“Do you and your trivia friends send each other postcards?”


“Didn’t you just tell me you did that?”

“No.” I traced back over the explanations as I reentered the ring the racetrack.



“What are those squeaky noises I’m hearing?” Maga asked.

“My front door. I’m just getting home.”

“Where were you?”

“Softball game.”

“Oh, that’s why you didn’t call. I called you today because it’s Tuesday or Wednesday and I was talking to your mom and she asked if you called and I said no not yet and so I called you.”

“Yes, I got your voicemail. I’m sorry I couldn’t talk until now. I was at softball.”

“How’d the game go?”

“We lost by a lot.”

“What was the score?”


Maga burst into laughter. “Oh my. I didn’t realize that could go so high.”

“Oh, yes. Yes, it can go as high as time allows.”

“It’s Tuesday, right?” Maga asked.


“And that’s why I called because you hadn’t called yet. What were you doing?”

“I was at a work softball game.”

“What position do you play?”


“How did your team do tonight?”

“We lost. Big time.”

“Some days are like that.”

You know what? She’s right. There are some days you can’t win no matter how hard you try. Sometimes the best you can do is show up. Her pointed comment + her laughter were accurate and, yet, barbed, and so I happily answered her next questions (about upcoming travel) in excess detail just to keep the subject off the horrific softball score.

“You don’t sit around and twiddle your thumbs do you?” Maga said.

“Not these next two weeks, but yes, actually I do. Quite often. Sometimes it’s good to be quiet.”

“I guess you have a point.”

“I try to.”

“What day is today?”


“Oh, yes, I thought so. And then I knew we had to talk cause that was important.”

Her aim may have been off-kilter tonight, but her wisdom kept hitting its target.



“And how are you, Maga?”

“I’m sort of old. Well, I wouldn’t say decrepit. I’m not there yet.”

Laughter burst out of me before I could contain it. And then I couldn’t answer because of said laughter. So she kept talking.

“How can I be this old? I’m 98 you know. Really, how did I get to be so old?”

I gathered my wits. “With a lot of practice!”

The conversation got back on track as we went over what I did this weekend (hosted my parents on/off as they were in town for my mom’s college reunion), how the weather was (amazing), did my mom have fun (yes), and how long Maga had been out of college (77 years), but it derailed again when Maga asked me, “Did I go to my 50th college reunion?”

“I dunno.”

“Oh, right. If I don’t know, you wouldn’t either.”

If only she’d followed this wisdom later on in the conversation as I repeatedly answered her questions about my mom’s phone number (I gave it to her), my dad’s siblings’ names (I gave them to her), my upcoming travel schedule (I gave her those details), and what year I graduated from college (2003).

Admittedly tired from all prior repetitions, my patience snapped. “Surely this isn’t relevant information.”

“I like to jot down little items like that. Catch up on things.”

Her kindness in the little details of my life kicked my poor attitude to the curb and for the remainder of the conversation, I patiently answered the same five questions over and over until she could parrot the answers back to me, until she knew what I knew.



“What have you been up to?” Maga asked. “How have you been keeping busy?”

“Softball just started yesterday!”

“What’s that? I didn’t catch it.”




“Oh.” She absorbed the information. “Well, what position do you play?”


“Really?!? I didn’t know you were that good.”

“It’s slow pitch. It’s not like I’m throwing it very hard.”

“Oh, I know. I understand that.”

Great. Now she understands.

“What’s your favorite sport?” I quickly recovered.

“Tennis.” I grinned at the absolute lack of hesitation and that I knew what her response would be. “Have you seen any family lately?”

This conversation was moving faster than a tennis match!

“I get to see my parents this weekend. It’s Mom’s college reunion!”

“When are they coming up?”


“As in two days from now?”


“How much of the weekend will you spend on campus?”

“Me? None. I wasn’t invited, but Mom and Dad will be there Friday through Sunday.”

“You’re not going to campus for the reunion?”


“Why not?”

“Because it’s just a thing for [College] students and spouses. Not kids.”

“You didn’t go to [College]?”

“Nope. Did you go to your 50th at [Same College]?”

“Let’s see. I graduated in ’42, so that would have been 1992. That’s a long time ago! I’m sure I went, but I was living in New Jersey, so it wasn’t that close.”

“I think you were in Colorado then.”

“Oh, yes, well, then that’s an even farther trip. But I’m sure I went. It’s good to see your old friends. I wonder how many of my classmates are still living?”

“Now that is an excellent question.”

“No, I’d really like to know. Perhaps I’ll write to [College].”

“You know, I bet they’d love to hear from you!”

“When will you visit me? I’d love to see you.” (And this tennis match of a conversation continued apace…)

“In the middle of July.”



“Will you be solo or coming here with anyone?”

“My parents and Sister E and Brother G plus his family.”

“We’ll have a good old reunion ourselves!”

And just like that, Maga handed me the perfect ending to the blog post phone call.