November 7, 2018

“Hello, ABBY!” Maga fairly shouted.

Unsure of whether she was happy to talk or chastising me for calling on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday, I answered all of her (repeated) questions cheerfully and clearly as if to atone for my delayed call. Plus, I had a good reason for not being near my phone last night.

“There’s this senator from Massachusetts and she was having a party to celebrate her re-election.”

“Oooh.” Maga sounded suitably impressed. “Did you vote for her?”

“I did.”

“Where there many people there?”


“Where does she live?”

“Oh, this wasn’t at her house. It was at a hotel downtown.”

“So it wasn’t invitation only?”

“Nope. Not this time. I’m just one of the constituents she represents.”

“Did you vote for her?”

“I did.”

“How old is she?”

“Late 60s, I believe.”

“Oh, so she’s more advanced shall we say.”

When Maga was with the conversation, her humor and sharp intelligence were top notch, even though I wasn’t sure which age scale she was referring to. Mine? Hers? If 69 years old is advanced, what’s 97, almost 98? But then she lost the thread and we did a few more rounds of repeated questions. We spoke about our weekend visitors and I jogged her memory about where I went to high school.

“Oh yeah. Oh yeah. I know,” she said. “I’m pulling myself together.”

And for the remainder of the conversation, she persisted.



October 30, 2018

“I’m having visitors this Thursday,” Maga said, as she described a few of my immediate family members who are headed to visit her. I dove into a story about how delighted I was when my nephew (one of her soon to be visitors) texted me when my Red Sox won the World Series.

“Oh yes,” she said. “I watched a few of those games.”

“Were you cheering for them?”

“Of course,” she said.

I glowed with happiness.

“Because I was in Massachusetts for college,” she said.

I deflated.

“I have a second feeling for them. First is for the Broncos. Well, that’s football. But all the Denver teams I root for.”

“You didn’t cheer for the Red Sox because you have a granddaughter there?”

“You’re the granddaughter.”

“Well, yes.”

“I’m glad you’re there to represent the family.”

It wasn’t the reaction I was going for, but I decided not to push my luck, as I was already batting 0-1. I switched topics. “Do you get any trick or treaters around those parts?”

“No. I don’t think so. I haven’t seen any flyers.”

“So I guess you’re not going to dress up for Halloween?”

Maga could barely form words around her laughter. “No, I am not going to dress up for Halloween. I’m past that. Are you?”

“No. Not this year. I do get to hand out candy to trick or treaters though.”

“So you understand what I’m going through. It’s not the same when you’re older.”

Halloween and other holidays may take on different tones as you age, but the memories of holidays past can be enough to liven one’s mood. Which, incidentally, can also be used to cheer yourself up if your ego’s been bruised by your grandmother cheering for a team based on her own memories rather than her granddaughter’s current living arrangements. Hypothetically speaking.


October 23, 2018

“How’s work going?” Maga asked.

“Crazy busy.”

“I’ll bet. I’ll bet you wish you didn’t have to do that sometimes.”

“AHH, WELL,” I said quickly and loudly as if I could erase what she said. “No, I don’t wish that. We had layoffs this summer so I’m quite happy to be crazy busy. Well, maybe not crazy busy. But you get it.”

“Oh, well, don’t wish for that.”

As my thoughts drifted towards my gratitude at being employed, I steered Maga in the same direction as we covered all of the family (long distance and local) who visits her (and not me!) and what her secret is (“I’m an old lady who can’t travel so everyone must come to me”) and how nice it actually is where she lives and how even if the food isn’t great, at least she doesn’t have to cook it herself. It was an exercise in counting your blessings and we both have many.



October 16, 2018

“Abby, dear. Is it you?”

“It is.”

“Is it Tuesday?”

“It is.”

“I was contemplating calling your mother, but thought it might be too late.”

“It’s not too late for me.”

“No, that’s right because you’ve been out and about at your game night.”

Her memory was spot on tonight, but when I pushed and asked her about her life before this exact moment, she paused, and sputtered, and turned the conversation back towards me.

When two people who don’t want to talk about themselves meet up in a conversation, things tend to go around and around and around. The weather gets discussed ad nauseum at the expense of personal details. Does this mean that if I want to learn about Maga, I have to offer information about myself first? Because there’s so much I want to know about her, but I just don’t think the details of my life are interesting enough to trade upon. I mean she’s the reason I’m here. Her legacy is me / my present, even if that means it’s just me myself and I. What exactly do I have to do to get her to expand upon her memories?

Suggestions? Comments? Please share.


October 9, 2018

“Did you go to your game night tonight?” Maga asked.

“I did.”

“How’d you do?”

“Third place.”

“Well, that’s great.”

I acknowledged the good cheer and ignored the fact we’d been in first place the majority of the evening. “You played games in college, right?”

“Oh, sure.”

“So, when you played bridge, how’d it go? Like did you play in a specific room or at dinner or after dinner?”

“Well, we had dinner in the dining room, so that would have been hard to play cards in there. We played after supper…”  She trailed off.

And I laid off pushing for more about the time before she met her husband, my grandfather, because I could tell from her tenor that the tendrils of her memories were too fine to grasp tonight. But, no matter how much or how little she remembered, I was a sponge for any detail because those times she experienced were in the same region of the world I’m in now, and yet, so very far away from what I’m currently living. In era, dress, love, finances, culture, and food.

“It’s a strange world,” Maga said. “Lots of ups and downs.”

It didn’t matter what she was specifically referencing; it was apt, it was true, and in the midst of it all, at least we had each other.