“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”
“Hello, who is it please?”
Maga’s once again crunching away on her dinner, as the covid19 protocol of eating not in the cafeteria but in one’s room has pushed her dinnertime into our usual chat time. I also assumed her “greeting” means she’s having trouble hearing, so I try again.
“What do you have for dinner?” I ask, enunciating each syllable.
“I’m eating my lunch now, looking out the window.”
“Lunch? Or dinner?”
*crunch crunch crunch*
Her caregiver calls out, “Virginia, you’re eating dinner.”
We all stare down the silence. Maga must realize she has the phone in her hand. “Hello? Who is it please?”
“Maga, it’s Abby.”
“Why don’t you call me back?”
“Okay, yes, I will.”
“Okay good. I’ll wait to hear from you.”
“Hi, Maga! It’s Abby!” I start off at a decibel usually reserved for when one is in a crowded bar + live music is playing.
“Where are you right now?” Maga says.
Okay, okay, good. We’re back on track, I think. “I’m in my apartment,” I say.
“You’re coming to see me?”
“NO! I can’t leave my apartment much less the state.”
“It’s cold today?”
“It was actually gorgeous out!”
“That sounds cold.”
“What day is it today?”
“Tuesday, of course!”
“Do you usually call on Tuesdays?”
“Yes.” (I lost a little of my luster.) “So what was for dinner?”
“What did I have for dinner?” (This was directed at her caregiver, who originally called answers from far away (as they try to give her her privacy while on phone calls), but whose answers got closer and closer.)
“You had a sandwich, some potato chips, a salad, and a peanut butter cookie.”
“I had a sandwich and some chips and a what?”
“A peanut butter cookie,” repeated her caregiver.
“Peanut butter what?”
“A cookie!” Her caregiver said at the same time I tried, “Dessert!”
The call didn’t get much better or continue much longer from there. I tried headphones, speaker phone, the normal phone held up to my ear. Maga couldn’t hear. I couldn’t yell any louder or close any more of my windows to shield my neighbors from my ever increasing volume. Maga mentioned my cheery voice, but I assumed she was working off the memory of it because most of her answers were perfunctory and what she thought I said vs. what I actually said.
But then again, I guess I too was working off the memory of prior Tuesday night calls. Sometimes that’s enough to get us through another week.