When I was in second grade, my elementary school decided to try an “Adopt a Grandparent” program. Basically, once every few weeks we’d go to the retirement home and hang out with our assigned resident.
It wasn’t so bad. I had a nice old lady, we’ll call her Mabel, who liked to play board games and fed me Jello. I missed a lot of school that year because I had chronic strep, and I ended up skipping one of the grandparent days. The time came for our next trip to the old folks’ home, and I was pretty psyched to see Mabel after so long. Mostly, I wanted to not be in school and eat Jello, but whatever.
My class arrived at the nursing home, and the adopted grandparents all came to collect the kids, and no one came for me.
I found an adult and asked where I was supposed to go. They delivered me to a woman who was most definitely not Mabel. This lady looked cranky and didn’t have a checker board.
I looked at her and said “Where’s Mabel? She promised I could have Jello.”
The lady stared down at me and said, “Mabel’s dead, and I don’t have any Jello.”
That was it. Her whole explanation of death and broken promises.
Mabel’s dead, and I don’t have any Jello.
While I can’t say anything for certain, I have a sneaking suspicion that’s where my fear of nursing homes and distrust of food sources comes from.
I do, however, still have an affinity for board games and Jello.