September 11, 2018

First, I spilled water over the entire table at lunch. Second, I caught my (cheap but beloved Target) leather jacket on a random nail on a telephone pole and ripped my sleeve as I walked by it. Third, the early evening took a turn even I wasn’t anticipating. Work bled into life outside the office. I offered my opinion at a time when I normally wouldn’t. I was more involved with work politics than I intended, wanted, or cared to be.

And then, of all things, the Governor of Boston was having a meeting at the local bar where we attend trivia every Tuesday evening. We couldn’t get into the bar, but we could see the Governor leaving, and, like all politicians, in person, he was 1,000,00% more charismatic than he appeared on TV.

Because of all that, the Trivia game started later than usual, so I stepped out in the third quarter to call Maga. We chatted while my team fought to stay alive. There was bridge work and crazy loud machinery, but she could, of course, hear me without any problems. (Minus me wishing I could be inside “helping” my team.) (Yet she can’t always hear me in my quiet apartment?) We chatted about the usuals and I promised to call her back within an hour as she claimed I wouldn’t be interrupting her bedtime routine or anything.

“So how’d your game end up?” Maga asked when I called back for round two.

“We were second place. $20.”

“Oh, you can put that towards the car you’ll buy.”

I snickered, but collected myself, “Well, it’s actually $20 to split between the team of five players, so it went towards the appetizers.”

“Well, I’m glad you got home safely and well.”

I couldn’t fault her logic. As a single female, there are a couple of friends I have a code with to indicate when we’ve gotten home safely, so it was delightful to add her to the list of people who care when I’ve reached home.

I turned the subject towards her because she’s the one who’s lived 97 years and has way more interesting stories. Plus, she’s the one who went to undergrad here in the greater Boston area. She knows a lot. But due to either the time of night (11pm here, 9pm her time) or the number of years she’s lived (97), she quickly deflected the question…”It’s been so long since I’ve been at Wellesley, I’m sorry I can’t tell you completely.”

I know my probing question hit a nerve for Maga, but weirdly, her deflection felt wildly familiar, because, you know, I didn’t particularly want to talk about anything other than the weather or how my trivia team did. I know this isn’t the way people get to know each other, but then again, when one half of the party is 97 year old, sometimes all you’re left with are the tidbits and ripped patches of a cheap Target jacket…



September 4, 2018

“Oh, Abby, dear. I just called you,” Maga said.

“You did?”

“Yes. But it said the phone number I dialed was invalid.”


“Let me see here. I dialed…” She rattled off nine of ten correct digits. “Is that your number?”

“Not quite. In the area code, the two is actually a one.”

“Oh, I see. The two is sort of blurred. I guess it could be a one.”

Numbers blurry and confusing? Maybe it’s her handwriting or eyesight after 97 years. Maybe it’s her abilities with math? Maybe it’s just MY abilities with math, but truer words have never been spoken in my presence.

I love finding the ways in which our brains overlap. Like a Venn Diagram. Hey, maybe I’m not such a lost cause when it comes to math!


August 28, 2018

“Oh, Abby dear. Hello!” Maga said.

“Hi! How are you feeling?”

“Well…” Her voice, stronger than I was expecting, trailed off. “I don’t want to complain.”

“If you need to complain, go for it.”


I admit I was forewarned about her potential state of mind. She has a ruptured disk in her back and the pain has been at maximum capacity. I was expecting… not to reach her… to be honest. And I definitely wasn’t expecting her usual tone or cadence so when I heard her voice, I was immediately cheered and inspired to maintain a similar tone.

“How is your weather?” she asked in an effort at normalcy or maybe just to distract herself, I wasn’t entirely sure. I decided to play along.

“It’s very August. Hot and humid,” I said.

“Any rain?”

“Not yet. That’s probably why it’s so hot and humid still.”

“Well, if it rains at night, so be it.”

She had a point, which I made her clarify to be sure. If it rains at night, you still have the whole day to enjoy. But what I wanted her to know is that sometimes it’s okay if it rains during the day, when you expect it to be sunny, when you want it to be sunny, or if you’re hoping for sun. The pain can add up and bear down, and it’s totally fine to embrace the dark clouds and wallow in it all. As long as she knows (and you too, dear Reader) there are people who love and cherish her (and you, dear Reader) and appreciate any attempt to put on a cheerful front and slog through the pain and rain.


August 21, 2018

“Have you seen any family lately?” Maga asked.

“Nope. They’ve all been visiting you!”

“Oh, well yes, I guess they have.”

Her words as she retold recent events were bright and happy. During the middle of explaining about her most recent guests, it dawned on her I might be equally fond of them. “Do you like having nieces and nephews?”

“Are you kidding? IT’S THE BEST.”

“It is kind of special, isn’t it?”

I wholeheartedly agreed, but for as much as we have in common, this isn’t one of those things. She has no siblings and so she created the family that surrounds her. Meanwhile, all I did was have the good fortune to be born into this family and inherit the folks I share a name with. She raised four kids (and helped with twelve grandkids and nine great grandkids). I just have to remember six nieces’ and nephews’ birthdays. (Which I do with pride and pleasure.)

But then again, how different can we really be when our paths intersect every Tuesday evening?


August 14, 2018

I ran up the stairs as if I was trying to beat curfew. (I never actually had one, but I can imagine.) I knew I was pushing the limits of our two hour time difference, but I had to get the call in.

“Maga, hi!” I tried to hide how breathless I was.

“Abby, dear. I was thinking about you earlier tonight and wondering if we would be able to connect.”

“I’m sorry it’s so late. My night ran long.”

Before we got too much further into our conversation, “There’s my pill lady,” Maga said. “I take a bunch of medicine at night, so I’m going to have to go eat my pills now. I’m sorry to cut this short.”

“It’s no problem. My evening ran a lot later than I intended it to, so it’s my fault for calling so late.”

“I love talking to you anytime.”

“And I to you.”

It was a short, sweet conversation that covered the oft-tread topics of the weather, my whereabouts, and her medications, but at 97, I’ll take whatever words she (and I) can spare before curfew hits.