“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.

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