“I just woke up from a nap, so I’m feeling refreshed,” Maga said.

“What else have you gotten into today?”

“Not much.”

“Did you read the newspaper? Watch tv?”

“No, not really. I’m here with [Caregiver M] and I talked on the phone to some people. That’s about the sum total of it.”

“That sounds like a good day.”

“Did you read the newspaper?” Maga asked.

“Nope. I get my news from the internet.”

“Oh, yes, from the TV.”


“I suppose I should read the newspaper.”

“Not if you don’t want to! How’s your weather there?”

“The sky is blue and clear and lovely. Just the kind of day you like to have.”

It was a good reminder that even in quarantine, even at 99 years old, there are things to look forward to. Like phone calls. And the sky. And naps.



“The sun is out. The sky is blue, partially blue. How’s it where you are?” Maga asked, in 1,000% more words than she said to me last night.

“Same really. Lots of sunshine and blue skies. It’s about 65 degrees. It’s lovely.”

“Is it that warm here?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m in MA.”

“What day is today? Saturday or Sunday?”

“Actually, it’s Wednesday, but most days feel like Saturdays lately. Where are you sitting?”

“No, I’m at my desk.”

“Why aren’t you in your blue chair in the living room?”

“Because I like to look out the window. There’s not much traffic today.”

“I’d guess not since visitors aren’t allowed.”

“No. It’s awful.”

“But they’re doing it to keep you safe from all the germs,” I said.

“I know. I should appreciate it more, but it’s sort of a nuisance.”

Oops. My bad. I totally understand the annoyance of someone telling you what you already know!

“Well,” I said, “thank goodness for your windows.”

“Yes. Nice big ones.”

I snickered. I couldn’t help my juvenile sense of humor. Maga barreled on with the conversation.

“We’re in that terrible period where we don’t know the way forward.”

I was blown back by the clarity of her statement and could do no more than nod in agreement, as my juvenile sense of humor was promptly put on the shelf to make way for adulthood.



“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”

“Hello there.” Maga’s voice was slow and slurred.

“Did I wake you? I’m sorry!”

“Well, it’s nightfall, so it’s time to go to sleep.”

“Okay, I won’t keep you. I just wanted to say hello.”

“I love hearing your voice. Thank you for calling.”

I know she won’t remember this tiny blip of a conversation, but I wonder if it’ll infiltrate her dreams?



“What did you do today,” Maga asked.

“I worked. I walked. I’m about to cook.”

“Did you go to the office?”

“Nope. Not allowed. I worked from home.”

“You worked?”

“At home. Yes. I have my computer here.”

“Your computer at 10:00?”

“Haha. No. My computer’s at home.”

“So you can really work all day if you’d like.”

“Unfortunately. Fortunately. What did you do today?”

“Well, I’m sitting at my desk looking out the window. Clouds. Blue sky. Sunshine.”

“All the right ingredients for a lovely day.”

“Except I’m not allowed outside. Not even to the hallway!”

“But that’s to keep the germs away.”

“It’s a drag. I’m so bored.”

“Girl, I understand.”

I didn’t get into the things I’ve done this quarantine (learned to knit, cooked A LOT, walked A LOT, facetimed A LOT, zoomed A LOT, read A LOT, etc. etc.) because as limited as I feel, I still have full use of all my limbs. Instead, I focused on empathy and lending my ears to her isolation tirade.

Anything to bring the sunshine inside since she can’t get it outside.



Three phone calls, two nights, and one text later, I finally connected with Maga.

“Hi, Maga! It’s Abby.”

“Oh, hi, Abby,” she said in sort of slurred, tired speech.

“How are you doing?”

“Well, I’m okay.”

“You can hear better, huh? Your ears are feeling good?”

“Well, I’m okay.”

“How is the weather there?”

“It’s a nice day outside so we’re enjoying it from inside.”

(If that’s not the best description of quarantine, I don’t know what is.)

“That sounds like a safe option,” I said.

“What’s that noise?”

“Oh, sorry about that. I’m cleaning up dinner. Putting the leftovers away.”

“Scraping the pans?”

“Someone’s got to clean up, and since it’s just me here…”

“Are you living with your parents?”

“Nope. Just me. Only me. Truly only me. It’s tough in quarantine.”

“Isn’t it the pits?”

“It has its moments, but yes, today it’s the pits.”

“Well, we had good timing. You were ready to call and I was ready to receive it.”

It’s as if she knew I was conspiring with her caregiver to figure out the best possible moment for me to reach back out…Maga may have been very tired and signed off quickly so she could go take a nap, but with her hearing in tact, she was sharp as ever.

And I was grateful for the full four minutes we spoke.