“I saw Aunt C and Uncle N today,” Maga said.

“Or, as I like to call them, Mom and Dad.”

*pause* “Oh. Yeah. I guess that’s right. Have you seen them much?”

“My parents?”



“Why not?”

“They’re visiting you. I’m in Massachusetts.”



*pause* “Oh. I’m sounding a bit mixed up and confused, I bet.”

“I don’t mind.”

“I bet you don’t. I’m just looking at my calendar trying to figure out what’s what.” She recited a bunch of line items, including how one of my uncles called her.

“You record when people telephone you?” I asked.


“Do you ever record when I call?”

“No, because I know every Tuesday we talk. That’s our day, right?”

“It is.” I guess after 10 years or so, it was bound to stick in her brain, even if nothing else was tonight.

“I’m just looking at my calendar trying to figure out what’s what.”

“And what have you figured out?”

She recited the same line items as before. Including wondering why no one had invited her to dinner. I tried to explain potential various reasons of where Aunt C and Uncle N might be. I attempted to divert the conversation to other family members and their recent travels. I even did a deep dive into my own daily activities (work and friends, etc.), but she wouldn’t let go of the hurt and disappointment at not being invited to tonight’s meal. Mind you, I doubt there was anything spectacular going on and she had a caregiver with her so she wasn’t alone and her hearing’s been better (or maybe it was just my phone) and her memory was slippery at best.

And so, I went over my mom’s phone number with Maga. “908…” I said again and again and again. Digit by digit by digit. The last four digits seemed just out of grasp. Over and over and over it we went. Then, she put it all together.

“That’s it! Perfect.”

“I’ll give your mom a call once we’re done talking.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

“One more time, it’s 908…” The middle three digits now befuddled her. And so I went over and over and over them. She had it. Until she didn’t.

“So, it’s 823…” she said.

I nearly lost it. Just like she somehow lost the phone number we’d gone over umpteen times. “Okay, nope. Let’s try it again.”

Amidst the recitation of numbers, I began to understand how, even when surrounded with people, one can feel alone and just like that, I had a clear view into Maga’s sad, disappointed, confused state of mind. Hopefully that clear view softened the frustration ringing through my tone.

I only wish my phone’s audio worked well enough for me to explain that she shouldn’t feel left out, but grateful she got to see my parents today and yesterday and Sunday and will for nearly a week more yet and to know how hard they’re working to get her house in shape, but sometimes when the mind is fluid and not retaining facts, no matter how practical and logical one is, the only thing that sticks is emotion.

And in this case, it was better for me to step aside and let the mother and daughter work it out. I made sure she had my mom’s phone number, took off my referee shirt, and bid her adieu.

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