“Hello?” Maga said. “Who’s this?”
“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.”
“Oh, your mom and dad.”
“Where do they live?”
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 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.