It’s Tuesday. The day Maga and I always chat. Life is NOT normal, but I’ve called her twice and she’s not answering. I know life is weird right now, but it is the day before Maga turns 99, and it it the day we usually talk, so I’m in it. I’m here.

Third time’s the charm. She answers. “Hi Abby, dear.”

“How are you feeling, Maga?”

“My birthday isn’t until tomorrow.”

“Yes, you’re right.”

“Don’t tell. It’s a secret between you and me.”

“Sure thing, Maga.”

“Could you help me with this?” Maga asks her caregiver to break down the candy bar in her hand, while I break down behind the scenes at the thought of her turning 99 tomorrow and of not being able to celebrate with her…

Her 3 musktaeers was opened and she devoured it. She’s always had a sweet tooth. She mumbled something around a mouthful that I didn’t quite understand. I queried her on it. Her caregiver overruled it all and said, “You’re 99, eat it.”

I couldn’t agree more.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been 99 before,’ Maga said.

“I’d have to agree with that,” I said. “But as of tomorrow, you will be.”

“Who was your mom and dad?” she asked.

“C and N,” I said.

“That was a good matching,” she said.

It was a long, rambling conversation beyond that about who was matched (with people) (with candy bars) and how the coronovirus thwarted us all, but her daytime caregiver helps to keep things normal, “I get on my wheelchair and my caregiver takes me around the block” but even so, the reality of it all punched us in the guts.

98 and inches away from 99 and still going strong even though the birthday celebrations are not. It’s the eve of her 99th birthday and what have I learned? She’s got more in her britches than you expect and so should we all. Quietly calmly we’ll get through this.

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