“Well, I’m eating dinner right now,” Maga said.
“Lunch,” her caregiver called.
“I’m eating lunch right now,” Maga said.
“As long as you’re eating, the meal doesn’t matter!” I said. “What are you eating?”
“Let’s see. Chicken. Broccoli. What’s this?”
“An orange,” her caregiver called.
“An orange,” Caregiver M repeated.
“Fruit, Maga. An orange,” I said.
“Oh, an orange.”
“Thank you, Abby,” Caregiver M called. It’s a give and take here.
“What we were talking about?” Maga asked.
“Just making idle chit chat.”
“That’s a good way to put it.”
“It’s wonderful to hear your voice,” I said.
“I’m so glad you can do that.” Spoken with the confidence of a 99yo. “Where are you?”
“Yes! Good memory. Very near your college.”
“What a good time that was. I really liked my time there.”
Her speech was lucid and her memory was firing on all cylinders, so I decided to push it. “How did decide to go there?”
“You know, I don’t really remember how. It’s a well known school. I had a hard time deciding, but I’m glad I went there. It was a happy experience. I was a happy person there.”
Bright, silver notes threaded through her tone illuminating that happiness.
“I had many good friends there. Where did you go?”
“I went to your state, Virginia, to a school called James Madison University.”
“What did you like about it?”
“Hmm. Same as you, I think. My friends. I have wonderful friends from there. Also, the part where I got to study abroad in England.”
“Oh, I bet you enjoyed that. I’d forgotten you got to do that.”
“I’d happily go back in a heartbeat. Heck, I’d settle for just out of state. I’d love to see my family!”
“I’d love to see you too.”
“You’re at the top of my list.”
“I believe you’re the first person I’ve spoken to today.”
“Maga. You were just on the phone with my mom.”
“Who’s your mom again?”
“[C]. Your eldest.”
“Oh, yes. My firstborn. She got me first or I got her first.”
“I did talk to her.”
“You get to talk to her way more than I do.”
“I don’t think so.”
“She calls you every day! I can’t get her to do that for me.”
Maga laughed. “That’s funny you say that.”
It was a gentle laugh. I’m not entirely sure if she was laughing with me or at me, or at the thought someone would prioritize her, or at the realization she didn’t remember the frequency with which they talked. I took it as a signal her her memory was no longer firing on all cylinders, and, grateful for the time I got tonight, allowed her to go back to her lunch food at dinnertime.