“How are you,” I asked.

“I don’t know. It’s a funny day today,” Maga said.

“How so?”

“With all the snow and slow goings on.”

“Oh, yes, that actually makes sense,” I said thinking of my own goings on and the pace of quarantine life.

“Are you in a position to see the moon?”

“No, not at the moment, why?”

“It’s a great, big, round moon tonight.”

“Can you see it now?” I asked.

“Yes. I’m sitting at my desk eating dinner and I can see it in the window.”

“I think it’s supposed to be a full moon on Saturday.”

“What’s that?”

And so began a back and forth where I stuck to the same topic as her, but she couldn’t understand me as she munched through her dinner of “some sort of chicken sandwich” and “not very good vegetables” and then she’d talk about the moon again as it was apparently very bright through her window.

(Reader: eventually, I got up and looked through all of my windows, but the clouds were too thick, so all I had to go on was any one of her 10 descriptions of the “big, round, yellow moon.”)

“Oh, Abby, dear….” Maga began, and well, actually, it feels unfair to transcribe her bursts of sadness, but they were there, as big and round as the moon. I tried to let her feel and I tried to empathize and I tried to distract, but nothing was working.

“I just need to find my phone,” Maga said.

“Maga, you’re holding it.”

“I am?”

“Yes, you’re talking to me on it.”

“Oh, so I am.”

“What do you need it for?”

“I need to talk to J or C. Listen, could you do me a favor?”

“Sure thing.”

“Could you call them and have them call me? I think they have my number. Do you?”

“Yes, I do. In fact, I called you on it.”

“Oh, yes, that’s right. Could you have one of them contact me?”

“Of course. I’ll contact them both.”

“What? Who? Which one?”

“Both. I’ll contact both and have them call you.”

“Oh. Maybe you should just call one.”

“Okay, then. I’ll call my mom and have her call you right now.”

“Thank you. Goodbye.”

I’m not sure if it was the moon or mercury being in retrograde or sundowner syndrome, but whatever it was, her “blue” feeling was too much for a granddaughter to soothe, so I tagged in a better option. My mom. Though from the sounds of it, she thought she might have to tag in the ultimate option, her sister [Aunt J]. Maybe between the three of us, we can invoke a sense of calm?

Then again, emotions are as varied as moonbeams, but how do you explain that to a 99yo?



“And you know where the first place I’ll travel will be?” I asked.

“Where?” Maga’s voice was breathless with anticipation.

“To see you!”

“Really? Do you mean it?”

“I do! Of course, I do.”

We both sighed with longing and imagined a world where it’d be safe to visit with each other. Or, that’s what I was doing.

Maga was busy trying to orient my location so she could better picture who she was talking to. I detailed my town, my apartment, my work, etc.

“You mean you don’t go into the office?” she asked.

“Nope. Not since March.”

“You don’t mean it.”

“Sure do.”

“This is nasty business. The germs.”

“I agree.”

“I’ve got my mask right here,” Maga said.

“You do?”

“Yes. I’m holding it in my lap.”

“Did you just get back from the cafeteria?”

“Yes. A little bit ago. And then my caregiver said we should go out for a walk or go sit on the terrace.”

“Oh, gosh. I don’t mean to keep you. Go do that.”

“Well, wait a minute. Let me have your…” she fumbled for the words, “your phone number.”

I provided it. She promised to call me back after dark. We’ll see what this spooky season brings.

[Editor’s note: it’s been 2 hours. I don’t think I’m getting a return call…]



“Maga! Hi! It’s Abby!”

“Who is it, please?”

I repeated myself at a shout-ier level than normal in an attempt to be heard over the TV.

“Oh, hi,” Maga said. “The TV is very loud. Let me ask my caregiver to turn it down.”

If Maga thought the TV was too loud?!? I tried to start a fresh topic now that she could hear me. “How was your day?”

“I haven’t had a very exciting day, but it was good enough.”

“Ditto,” I shouted twice more.

We covered what town I lived in, where I was working from, why my office was closed, when I graduated from college, why I hadn’t visited her yet, how often I usually visit her, and where else I’d traveled to this year. That may seem like a lot, but in actuality, our conversation at this point was more start and stop than circular.

“What town do your parents live in?” Maga asked.

I told her. She asked me if they lived in my town. I told her no and rattled off their town name again.

“Is that the house Cathy’s mom and dad built?”

I paused. “You’re Cathy’s mom.”

“Did I build the house?”

“I don’t think so.”

We both chuckled at the absurdity of her swinging a hammer.

“Did you call me or did I call you?” Maga asked.

“I called you.”

“You usually call me on Saturday. Is today Saturday?”

“I usually call on Tuesdays. Today’s Tuesday.”

“Oh, Tuesday. Yes, that’s our talkative day. You can call me other days, you know.”

“Yes, I know. I will.”

“Oh, honey bun. I wish you were here.”

“Me too.”

“Where do you work?”

“[Big Name University.]”

“[Big Name University] Press, right?”

“Yes! Very good!”

“I got that one right.”

“Very well done, Maga.”

“Let’s say goodbye now and wait for the next time.”

Abrupt, yes, but she certainly has a knack for how to end a conversation on a high note!



“Hello?” Caregiver P answered.

“Hi! Is Virginia there?”

P paused, “Well. Yes. Would you like to talk to her?”

“Yes, please.”

“Who is this, please?”

“It’s her granddaughter, Abby.”

“Oh, hi, Abby. It’s [Caregiver P].”


“I’m just trying to get her up for supper. I went and picked it up for her. Maybe if I tell her you’re on the phone…?”

“Sure! Let’s try it.”

Some muffled noises ensued, then P’s voice explaining I was on the phone, then Maga’s hoarse voice, “Hello?”

“Hi, Maga! It’s Abby!” I tried especially hard for a bright, yellow tone.

“Who is it please?”

“It’s Abby!”


“It’s Abby! Can you hear me?”

“I can hear you.”

“Are you taking a rest?”

“Yes, I’m lying down.”

“Are you feeling sick? Or just tired?”

“I’ll get better sooner or later. Listen, thank you so much for calling. I appreciate it. We’ll talk again soon.”

And that was that. Short, succinct, sleepy. I do hope this brief phone call made her alert enough that her appetite perked up. There’s not much else I can do from this distance…