January 11, 2019

My phone rang, and having gotten home earlier than anticipated, I checked the screen. It was Maga! “How sweet,” I thought. “She’s calling to wish me a happy birthday.”

“Hi, Maga!” I answered.

Light, rapid breaths came through the line – the sort which indicate she was actively thinking about something and filtering through things before speaking.

“Hi, Maga,” I repeated.



“Oh, dear. I didn’t…I mean… I was working through my phone and clearing numbers of people who called recently and it must have gotten jumbled.”

“So, you didn’t mean to call me.”

“No, afraid not. And since we spoke yesterday we’re all set until next week, aren’t we?”

“I guess so.”

“Okay, bye.”

Well, that sure blew out the birthday candles I hadn’t yet lit…



January 7, 2019

“How are you, Maga?” I asked.

“Well, it’s lonely here.”

“I know the feeling.”

“I sure wish we were closer.”

“Me too. But since we’re not, these phone calls are intended to help bridge that gap between visits.”

“Thank goodness for Alexander Graham Bell.”

“Yes, indeed.”

“Isn’t today Monday?”

“Yes, actually, it is. I have more time tonight than tomorrow and as we were just saying loneliness is around and I wanted to make sure to check in with you.”

“Thank you, dear.”

We spoke about the weather, my siblings, my house, meandered over to the topic of my work…”What are the hours you work?” Maga asked.

“9am to 5pm.”

“Oh, 9 to 5. The usual working hours.”

“Well, usual for this working force. Your hours were more like 24 hours a day.”

The truth tickled Maga. “Why yes, you’re right. When you raise four children, the hours are a bit longer.”

“Quite a bit.”

“And [Sister E]? How’s her job going? Tell me what it is again.”

“The easiest way to explain it is that she teaches / trains people how to use a product.”

“What’s the product?”


Maga was silent for a spell.

I continued. “It’s for computers.”

“Oh. Everything’s all about computers these days.”

“What about the gift from my parents? Have you used that?”

“What’s it called again?”

“An iPad.”

“And how does it work?”


“And you plug it in and that’s what [Sister E] teaches people how to use?”

I was silent for a spell. “No, no, no. Your gift and [Sister E]’s job are unrelated. Maga, are you wearing your hearing aid?”



“Wait. No, I’m not.”

“I suspected you weren’t.”

“Oh, well, I forgive you.”

“Umm, thank you?”

I’m sure it wasn’t her game plan, but the act of her not putting in her hearing aid actually extended the conversation, as I had to repeat words and phrases and concepts until she understood what I was talking about. Maybe I should have stuck to the weather? Or maybe I should just appreciate the extra time together with Maga, no matter the volume levels or topic(s) of conversation.


January 1, 2019

“Did your mom enjoy making Christmas cookies this year?” Maga asked. “She always used to like to do that. I remember that from the past.”

“Enjoy it? I don’t know about that, but she made a bunch, yes.”

“She doesn’t love it?”

“I don’t think so, but she loves us and we love the cookies, so…”

“It’s sort of a Christmas custom now.”

“You got it.”

“Could I have some more milk? Excuse me, Abby, I was just talking to my caregiver. I’m munching away on my dinner here and I need something more to drink.”

“Dinner? You’re usually done by now.”

“On holidays, like Christmas and today, they let the kitchen staff go home to be with their families, so they make up meals in a bag we can eat in our rooms.”

“That’s so nice. On many fronts.”

“The meals aren’t wonderful or elaborate, but edible.”

“Sounds exactly like my skill set in the kitchen.”

Maga chuckled. It wasn’t her usual hearty laugh, so I have a feeling this was a laugh borne of her not wearing her hearing aid and not hearing me, but not feeling like asking for the fifth time what I’d said. It’d taken us awhile to get to this point in the conversation.

“Do you have any upcoming travels?” she asked, changing the subject as she does when she can’t continue the previous discussion.

“No, but I will have some visitors in a couple of weekends. A girls’ weekend in Boston for Sister J’s birthday.”

“When’s her birthday?”

“The 10th.”

“Of January?”


And thus began the repetition of my siblings and my birthdays. Four times. Loudly.

“Wait, wait. I should write this down,” Maga said and I let loose a peal of laughter, because, of course.

“I thought you already head.” A fifth and sixth repetitions for those dates.

“Gee, did your mom have all her children in January? That’s kind of unusual to have all your babies in the same month, but you all turned out well, so I guess it’s alright. I wonder why your mom had you all in the same month?”

“You’ll have to ask her.”

“She’s a busy lady.”


“I haven’t talked to her in awhile,” Maga said.

“Oh, that type of busy!” I sighed internally and externally and brought the conversation to an end before either one of us could mis-hear each other further.


December 27, 2018

“How many are you?” Maga asked.


“Now that’s a big happy group.”

“It is indeed.”

“The holidays are a good time for families to get together.”

“That they are. And what did Santa bring you?”

“Presents, candy, perfume, the usual.”

I knew my parents had given her an unusual technological gift, and so, yes, I was fishing for information because we hadn’t had a proper chance to talk the day before. Maga’s omission of that gift spoke volumes and yet was 100% not surprising given her age and disinterest in all things technology. Plus, I’d seen her reaction and confusion to it the day before / the way her 10yo great-grandson explained it with ease.

I reeled in the hard questions and allowed her to direct the conversation back to the weather and how many family members I was surrounded by.

“I wish you luck and success,” Maga said as we wrapped up the conversation with talk of the new year.

“I wish you love and good health,” I replied.


December 17, 2018

“How are you?” I asked.

“Well, I’m not the most sturdy or good of anything I’ve ever known,” Maga said.

“Oh no!”

“When you get to be my age…” And then she showed her years when she confused my earlier years with Sister E’s. “You basically grew up in that town that your sister and brother-in-law live in.”

“No. They live in [State].”

“Yes, yes. They live in [State]. I guess I meant your mom and dad.”

“Oh,” I chuckled. “Well, I only went to high school where my parents live. Sister E is the one who basically grew up there.”

“What’s the age gap between you two?”

“11 years.”

“Oh my.” And then she showed she was as young as ever. “What a surprise that was when your mom announced she was pregnant.”

I jumped on the familiar familial details from a new source. “Oh yeah??”

“It seemed like she’d gotten finished with that business, but not at all. What a surprise. A pleasant one.”

A happy sigh from us both.

“The more the merrier,” we said simultaneously.