“Life isn’t terribly interesting right now,” Maga said. “But I’m trying to make good.”


“How’s your weather?”

“Cold. And a little snowy. But mostly, cold.”

“Oh, that’s not too good.”

“It is winter. Gotta get through that to get to spring.”

“You have a friend who’s thinking of you?”

“Me?” I said.

“Yes, you have a friend.”

“Well, yes, but I was talking about the weather.”


Recognizing it was going to be one of those nights, I tried to stick to questions with immediately accessible answers. “Did you have some visitors today?”


“Really? Not even my parents?”

“Oh, yes. C and A [read: me] came over earlier,” Maga said.

“What about my dad?”

“No. He didn’t come.”

“What about Aunt J?”

“Yes, she was here too. Two girls.”

“Three ladies counting you.”

“Yes, yes, I’m good.”

*gets whiplash* “I’m glad to hear that, Maga.”

“Do you have any animals,” Maga asked.




“But you have pets.”


“Well who am I thinking of?”

“Whoever it is, it’s not me.”

“I guess not.”

“Oh, Abby, I am so confused!”

“That’s okay. You’re 98. Your brain has a lot of other information in it.”

“I guess that’s right. Do you… Have you… Who… What am I trying to say?”

“I’m afraid I don’t know.”

“You don’t know and I don’t know so that makes two of us.”

And the two of us continued our broken conversation for awhile longer until I sensed it was causing her more distress than comfort.

“Maga, I’m going to let you go now. Just relax and watch some TV.”

“When are you coming to visit me?”

“In March.”


“For your birthday.”

“You are?!”

“Of course. Like I do every year.”

“Oh, we’ll have to have a party.”

“Of course! 99 is a big deal.”

“However did I get that old?”

“By living 98 years before it.”

“I guess that’s right,” Maga said.

And on that semi-coherent, semi-happy note, I bid her adieu because one + one on the phone tonight did not equal two happy ladies. She didn’t know and I didn’t know and these calls are not meant to cause stress. Sometimes you have to recognize when the math’s not adding up, the language might not be either.

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