“And how are you, Maga?” I asked.
“I’m not going to win any battles, but I’m still here so that’s something.”
“Have you had any visitors lately?”
“Truly. You get more than me!”
“You have an extra bedroom, right?”
“So if someone wanted to visit and stay the night, they could?”
“Yes. Do you want to?”
Peals of laughter spilled out from the phone. “Well, maybe not just yet.”
I liked how she phrased that, as if the time for her to be able to come visit wasn’t right now, but it wasn’t far away either.
“Do you have any trips coming up?” Maga asked.
“I’ll be in Maine this weekend with [Sister J] and [B-I-L-T].”
“Oh, I love Maine. I used to go up there all the time. A friend of my mother’s had a really lovely house up there with tennis courts and everything.”
“Wow! That sounds amazing.”
“It really was. It was there I played tennis with…” She trailed off purposefully, as if I was supposed to know who she played tennis with. (Honestly? I was too busy trying to spell her mother’s friend’s name so I could re-write it here.) (I failed.)
“Who’d you play tennis with?”
The pride in her voice made me feel guilty for asking, “Who’s that?”
“He wrote books. He loved tennis. I’m not sure how he knew Auntie [Name-I-Didn’t-Quite-Catch], but we played quite a bit of tennis together. I wonder if he’s still alive?”
“Was he your age?”
“No, he was a bit older.”
“Did you ever read any of his books?”
“Oh, yes. Many of them.”
“I’ll have to look him up.”
“You should. His books are quite enjoyable.”
And now I’m in a book club with my 98yo grandmother.
“Do you have any pets?” Maga asked.
“Nope. Not as an adult.”
“You’ve never had any pets??”
“Not really, no. What about you?”
“Oh, yes, we had pets.”
“I mean what about when you were a kid?”
“Oh, no. My mother’s mother didn’t like animals, and, we lived with her.”
“SO THAT’S WHERE I GET IT FROM!”
“You don’t like animals?” Maga’s voice was choked with incredulity. Or was it familiarity?
“Umm, not really no. But apparently it’s genetic!”
“Guess so. She didn’t like animals so we didn’t have any. We lived with her.”
“Her house her rules, huh?”
“Yep. She owned the house so she made the rules.”
It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself / your family history from just a bit of small talk.