“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Oh, Abby darling. It’s so good to hear your voice.”


“What did you do today.”

“I went to the movies.”


“The m-o-v-i-e-s.”

“The what?”

“The theater.”

“Oh! What was the production?”

“Little Women.”

“Little what?”

“Women. Females. By Louisa May Alcott.”

“Oh, yes. I know it. Was it a good play?”

“I really enjoyed the movie, yes.”

“Oh, it was a film?!”


“Did you go to work today?”

“Nope. I had the day off.”

“Oh, that’s how you were able to go to the movies today because you weren’t at work.”


“When are you coming to see me?”

“In March. For your birthday.”

“What day, please.”

“Sometime around your birthday. I don’t have the exact date yet.”

“My birthday is March 25th.”

“Yes! I know.”

“It’ll be fun. We’ll go to Cherry Hills and do some shopping and it’ll be good and all that.”

“I can’t wait to see you!”

“How much is it?” Maga asked.

Now it was my turn to ask for clarification. “Huh?”

“Until you come to see me.”

“It’s a couple of months away, unfortunately.”

“Well, if you can come any earlier, you’re always welcome.”

“Thank you! I hope to be able to visit sooner.”

We closed out the conversation with some repetitions of the word decade. It’s a big word and my voice is small, but working together, I was able to get the point across and we each wished each other a very happy new year!



“Hi, who is it please?”

“Maga, it’s Abby.”


“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby,” I repeated a bit louder.

“Who is this?”

“It’s Abby!” I fairly shouted.

Muffled voices between Maga and her caregiver…Caregiver gets on the line, “I don’t think she can hear you.”

“Could you try putting it on speaker phone?” I asked.

“One minute. Let me see. Oh, yes.”

More muffled sounds as the phone went back to Maga.

“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Oh, Abby dear. Hello.”

Her words were slurred more than usual, my heart rate increased.

“I was in bed,” she said.

“I’m sorry Oh my gosh I’m so sorry!” My words slurred together in haste not to wake her up too much.

“It’s okay.”

“We had a late dinner and then I was on dish detail which is why I’m calling so late.”

“It is later than usual.”

“I’m so sorry. I can let you go.”


“I just wanted to call since it’s our Tuesday and to say Merry Christmas Eve.”

“Merry Christmas to you too. Where are you?”

“I’m at my parents’ house.”

“Oh, could I talk to your mother?”

“Oh, sure of course. Let me go over to her.”

“Where is she?”

Fortunately my mother is easier to track than Santa Claus so I knew she was in the next room over and I delivered my phone to her.

“Here she is, Maga.”

“Who is your mother?” Maga asked.

“[C] is my mom.”

“Oh, of course.”

I sat beside my mom as she talked to her mom. The holidays are all about the generations after all, even if we’re not all in the same geographic location.



“Hi, Maga! It’s Abby.”

“Who is it, please?”

“It’s Abby.”

Caregiver’s voice: “Why don’t you put it on speaker?”

“Huh?” Maga said.

*rustling sounds as the caregiver helped Maga with the phone*

“Hi, Maga. Can you hear me now?”

“Oh, YES, can I hear you!”

*takes notes on whatever it is the caregiver just did to make Maga be able to hear the conversation without straining*

“What did you do today,” Maga asked.

“I went to work. I ran some errands. And then I shoveled.”

“Did it snow?”

“It snowed all day, but didn’t accumulate. It also sleeted and rained. A rather gloomy day.” (Despite the miracle of speaker phone, I repeated variations of this thrilling story so she could understand what I did.)

“Do your other neighbors shovel too?”

“Yes. But I was there and the shovel was nearby, so I thought, why not. I’ll be a good neighbor.”

“That’s a good way to behave.”

“Want to hear about something that didn’t behave?”


“A spider bit me!”

“Oh no! On your hand? Or arm?”

“On my forehead.”

“When did it start hurting you?”

“It doesn’t hurt. It’s super itchy though. It started this morning.”

“Do you think it happened in bed?”


My distress garnered a hearty chuckle out of her, so I thanked the spider for his duty, for Sister J who helped diagnose me, for coworker L who promised me spiders wouldn’t crawl out of my face, and for cortisone cream which helped reduce the itching.

And speaking about it brought on more itchiness at the same time that Maga’s night nurse came in with her meds, so we bid each other adieu and left to deal with our medications. Hers to help with being 98+. Mine to deal with…ewww, don’t make me think about it anymore!



“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”


“Hi, Maga!”

“Who is it, please?”

“It’s Abby,” I shouted into the phone with a sinking feeling it was going to be one of those conversations. I put on a kettle of water so I could soothe my throat post phone call and settled in. “How was your day?!” I continued at the same excessive volume.

“A cold, busy day.”

“For me too. Busy.”

“What did you do?”

“I went to work and it. was. hectic!!”

“And then what?”

“That was the majority of the day. Now I’m home relaxing.”

“You went where?”

“I’m at home.”

“What was the majority?”

“At work. Now I’m done with that. What are YOU doing?” I asked in an attempt to turn the tide of this conversation.

“I’m putting photos in an album.”

“Oh, what fun! Who’s in the photos?”


“What are your pictures of?” I said slowly and as clearly as possible.

“Where were they taken?” Maga asked.


“These are from Alaska. Uncle D and Aunt C just went there you know.”

“I didn’t know. Those must be beautiful photos! What else is in the album?”

“Things from this year. I like to keep up to date with my albums.”

“I bet you do. So, what else do you have?”

“Things from this year.”

“Any from Africa?”

“Oh sure. I see S and F here.”

(Reader, S and F were not in Africa. I decided to go with the flow instead.) “How lovely. They’re so nice to visit with you.”

“Oh dear.”

“What’s up?”

“I’m so confused.”

“By your photographs?”


“Do you need to concentrate on them?”


“Would you like me to hang up?”


And just like that, she turned off the faucet entirely. (The water metaphor. I’m sticking with it.)

Don’t ever confuse my grandmother with someone who doesn’t know what she wants. Seems that she’d rather spend time with photos of people than on the phone, but you know what, if it makes her happy, I’m going to let her be. She’s earned that much in 98 years and 8 months.



“Hello?” Maga said. “Who’s this?”

“It’s Abby.”


“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Can you hear me?”

“Yes! Hi! It’s Abby?”

I could hear the scuffling noises of Maga’s caregiver and Maga narrated the scene, “My caregiver’s putting my hearing aid in…Is it in? Can I talk?”

“Hi Maga. Can you hear me now?”

This went on for longer than anticipated. And nearly negated my reason for calling tonight instead of the usual Tuesday.

“Is it Tuesday?” Maga asked.

“No. It’s Monday, but I’m coming down with a cold and I’m not sure how my voice will be tomorrow.”


“A cold. I’m getting sick. I’m not feeling well.”

“Oh no!” she said. “That’s the pits. Are you home now?”

“Yes. How was your Thanksgiving?”

“It was alright. I didn’t see my visitors that long, but it was alright. Where were you?”

“I was at [Sister J’s].”

“All her kids came home, then.”

“Uh.” Seeing as they’re 9, 7, and 4, they didn’t have far to go to get home…clearly Maga’s memory and hearing weren’t top notch today, but the idea of [Sister J’s] kids having to come home for the holidays nearly blew my own mind apart. It’s like we were talking in the present about the future. “Yeah, sure.”

“They were working together to get food on the table?”

“Uh. Yeah, sure.”


“Actually, the girls did help [Sister E] with the pies.”

I asked Maga some other question that she couldn’t hear and that my poor voice couldn’t handle. At this rate, I’m going to give myself laryngitis just by having this conversation at such a decibel. She made some vague noise signaling she had no idea what I said. She took the conversation reigns back.

“You’re going to [Sister J’s] for Christmas?”

“No. My parents’ house.”


“My parents’.”

“Who’s that?”


“Oh, your mom and dad.”


“Where do they live?”


“What town?”

I said it 4 times to a response of “what?” each time. I didn’t know how else to say it and my voice was reaching a tone only dogs could hear… “It’s the same town they’ve lived in for 25 years.”

“Oh. I guess I didn’t know that. Well, what did you do today?”

“I went to work and shoveled some snow and…”


“To work.”


“To work. To my job. To the office.”

“Oh, your job. It’s Monday. Of course that’s where you were.”

Our usual chemistry was marred by my impending illness and her hearing and I believe the conversation was as frustrating for her as it was for me, and so she took advantage of “the changing of the guard” as an opportunity to end the conversation with me.

I was equal parts offended and impressed. She still has some social decorum in there although the reasoning for needing it is way more obvious than in her heyday. Either way, I’ll take any lesson I can get from her. Tonight’s being that an illness ridden 38yo voice isn’t compatible with a 98yo’s hearing.

Here’s hoping for a more uplifting lesson next week.