September 15, 2020

“Hi, Maga. It’s Abby.”



“Oh, hi, Abby dear. It’s so nice to hear your voice.”

At that volume? Okay, sure. “And yours,” I said.

“I’m just laying down in the bed, closing my eyes, but I’m not tired. Just taking it easy.”

“That’s what I’m doing too. But I’m on the couch instead of my bed.”

Maga chuckled lightly.

“Did you do the crossword puzzle today?” I asked.

“No. I don’t think I did.”

“Oh, okay. I know sometimes you work on it with my mom.”

“Who’s that? [Aunt J]?”

“No, it’s [C].”

“Oh, right. Yes, we do work on that together, but I don’t think we did today. It’s very satisfying when you fill in the words.”

“I bet! I’m not very good at them.”

“Where do you live?” Maga asked.

“In [town], [state].”

“Where’s that near?”

“Your alma mater.”

“Do you ever get over there?”

“I’ve visited it a few times, yes.”

“I wish I lived closer to it. It’s so lovely there with the lake and the hills and so on. I’d visit frequently if I could.”

“When’s the last time you were there?”

She paused, trying to assess when it was.

“Maybe for a reunion?” I supplied.

“Yes, most likely. I was the class of ’42, so you can kind of figure out from there what I did at that time.”

If I was better at puzzles or internet research, I’d take her up on that invitation…alas, I settled for asking questions that unfortunately can’t be answered by her wispy memories.

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

“I called you.”

“Well, thank you for doing so. It’s very rewarding and refreshing and what else can I say to talk to you. You can call me anytime.”

“I love talking to you, so it’s my pleasure.”

“Is it Tuesday?”

“It is,” I said.

“We’re right on schedule, then.”


September 8, 2020

“Hi Abby, dear,” said Maga.

“Hi Maga!”

“How’s your weather today?”

“It was hot and summery.”

“We had snow.”


“Snow,” she said, low and slow as if I was hard of hearing.


“Yeah. That’s how I feel too. Wow.”

“Is this normal to have snow in September?”

“It’s not the common thing, but it does happen occasionally. It’s usually a temporary thing this early.”

“That’s crazy!”

“What did you do today?” Maga said.

“I worked on my computer and, well, that’s about it. A rather boring day.”

“Everything’s boring lately.”

“Well, yes, but it’s better to be bored and healthy than the alternative.”

Maga laughed for a lot longer than I expected her (or anyone, really) too. I wasn’t exactly making a joke, but dark humor is the way through this time, I guess. Who knew Maga had such a dark side?!

“What’s that noise,” Maga asked.

“Your microwave.”

“You know more than I do!”

“Naw. I just have younger ears than you do.”

“Well, that’s my dinner. I suppose I’d better go.”

“Okay. I hope you enjoy your dinner!”

“I don’t have much of an appetite, so I don’t know how I’ll be able to, but I’ll try.”

“That’s all I ask. Happy Tuesday, Maga!”

She may not have had a large appetite today, but at least she still had her sense of humor!


September 1, 2020

“Hi, Darling,” Maga said.


“Who is this, please?”

“It’s Abby.”

“Of course it’s you.”

“Yup! It’s Tuesday.”

“What did you do today?” and “Where are you?” and “How’s the weather?” peppered her conversation. I dutifully answered.

Maga asked, “When are you going to be down my way?”

“As soon as the planes are safe to travel on again.”

“Oh, that’s right. You’re a plane away. Well, we’ll have to wait our turn.”

“I’m tired of waiting!” I burst out.

“I’m tired of waiting too, but sometimes that’s the way it goes,” Maga consoled me. “I don’t really understand it all.”

“The long and short of it is that there are a lot of germs everywhere. We have to stay safe,” I consoled her.

“I guess.”

A few more of the same questions she’d already asked salted this portion of the conversation, and then, before I was even done folding my laundry, she ended the phone call.

I guess she was done waiting for me to have something interesting to say.


August 25, 2020

“Hello?” came a raspy, feeble voice.

“Maga?” I asked.

“Uh…yes…is this Abby?”

“Yes, hi!! Did I wake you?”

“No. No, I was just doing a puzzle in the paper.”

“That sounds fun.”

“I suppose. What did you do today?”

“Let’s see. I worked. Oh! I went to the library! First time since March. It was very exciting.”

“I suppose it would be.”

“It’s all very interesting,” I said and proceeded to very slowly lay it out for her. “You put in a request for a book. They pull it off the shelf for you. Wrap it up. And then put it on a table with your name on it. And then I go and pick it up without having to interact with anyone to stay safe from germs.”

“Staying safe is important. When are you coming to visit me?”

“As soon as I’m able to.”

“How far are you from me?”

“It’s about a 4.5 hour plane ride.”

“Oh. That’s far.”

“It never seemed so far until they took the planes away!”

Maga chuckled weakly. “I guess you’re right. When are you coming to visit me?”

“I’m keeping a close eye on the planes. As soon as I’m allowed to visit, I promise.”

“I’ll keep watch and let’s stay in touch about visits. Did you go to work yesterday?”

“I worked from my house, yes, both yesterday and today. My office is closed until January!”

“I don’t understand anything these days.”

“You and me both, Maga.”

“What do you do for work?”

“I work with books.”


“Novels. Books. Reading. Publishing.”

She sort of mumbled, “Publishing.”

“Do you like books, Maga?” I asked.

“Oh, yes. They’re good things to have and to read.”

“Did you have a favorite book when you were younger?”

“Yes. The Heidi books. Did you read them?”

“I don’t think I have, no. I bet my mom and Aunt J have, though.”

“They were good for then when I was younger… when are you coming to visit me?”

“As soon as the planes stop being broken.”

That got a proper laugh. “That’s exactly right,” Maga said. “Well said.”

Dark humor is the only way to get through these days, it seems.


August 18, 2020

The text from Caregiver M came through: “Hi Abby. Your Maga is up now” and so I dialed straight away.

“Hi, Maga! It’s Abby.”

“Hello there. Sorry I was asleep before.”

“It’s no problem. Did you get a nice rest?”

“I did. I feel much better now. What did you do today?”

“The usual. Worked on my computer. Ate some food. Went for a walk.”

“Oh. I wish you’d come visit me.”

“I wish I could!”

“They’re working out the details. You could come down soon. But make sure to call first so you don’t come over on…false pretenses.”

I hated to break the news that while visitors to her care center were now allowed, the plane ride to get there was not. “As soon it’s safe to fly, I promise I’ll be there.”

“Where are you living?”

“In [City, State].”

“Oh, that’s right,” Maga said. “How could I forget? I wish it wasn’t so far away. We’ll have to plan another get together soon then.”

“As soon as we’re able! I promise you’ll be my first visit!”

“I will?”

“Of course.”

I just hope I can fulfill that promise in a semi-reasonable amount of time. I’m not ready to break the news to either of us if I can’t.

While my brain veered left, Maga regaled me with tales of Aunt J and Uncle P’s visit. Outdoors. Masks. Warm sunshine. It’s always fascinating hearing what details Maga remembers and which Caregiver M has to fill in. Whatever details she does or doesn’t remember, though, I was thrilled to know some visitors were able to get there safely.

And for now, I’ll have to continue on with my phone calls as it’s the safest path forward, and as Maga has said to me on more than one occasion, “thank goodness for Alexander Graham Bell.”