17 minutes. She gave me 17 minutes before uttering her token sentence "so het ons maar ons dinge" (unsure of how to translate this, perhaps a mixture between 'that's life' and 'everyone has their own problems') and hanging up. My grandmother usually manages a maximum of five minutes of telephone conversation. Usually she'll tell me what she has been up to and then end the call by asking when I'll be back.
Maybe I got 17 minutes because I had an answer. December. 3 months, no plans.
She tells be about all the cousins, their weddings and the birth of the first great-grandchild and her neighbour Oom Boet gardening with a cane and his wife having broken her hip and that trip in the 80s to Germany before the wall fell and my ouma's own flu at the moment. Nothing is repeated, she appears as always. At 85, she has lost the ability to recall what happened a few minutes ago, but not what happened decades ago. I am told about old trips with the grandfather I never met, about what her plans for the day are, about what we'll do for Christmas.
It's a phone call, nothing big really, but in times of uncertainty it's the small things.
So het ons maar ons dinge, ne.