Not Even Fifteen Cents

She pushes the noodles of her Vietnamese mixed bun bowl around. "Look, there's nothing here!" She has already given most of the meat and imperial rolls from her meal to my grandfather and my dad.  All that's left are the noodles.

My dad asks me about work and we chat a little bit.

"This wouldn't even cost fifteen cents," she says angrily, pushing the noodles around in the bowl some more. "Look at this!"

My grandfather joins in.  "Everything is just warm, not even hot."

"I'm never coming back here. Ever!" She pushes the noodles around continually, demanding that we look at it.

My father just smiles at her. "You're going to forget in three minutes anyway."

She doesn't hear him.

"I don't even think it will be three whole minutes," I reply to my dad.

"Not even fifteen cents!" she mutters again.

"Wednesday is better because then I have time to forget what it's like.  When it's Tuesday, it's too close and it's like BANG two days later, and I don't even have time to forget," my dad says, referring to the sad state of my grandparents.

"Oh, you mean from Sunday dinner," I say.  I haven't been to Sunday dinner in a few weeks.

"Yeah," he says.  He's still smiling and calm, and I'm glad.

"Look at this!" she mutters again, mixing the bowl of noodles.

"Are you and mom going to be like this?" I ask my dad.

He looks a little bit concerned.  I answer for him.  "I don't think you will be. They've always been kind of picky like this. You and Mom aren't like that."

"Well," he says. "We have our weird little food things."

"Like what?" I ask.

"Mom doesn't like anything creamy," he replies.

"Yeah, but that's because creamy things make her sick," I defend her.

"And I don't like hard boiled eggs in anything," he laughs.

"Or Brussels sprouts," I smile.

"I just don't want to eat them if there's other stuff there.  I'll eat it if there's nothing else," he says.

"I wouldn't even pay fifteen cents for this.  Look!" she complains venomously, overturning the noodles in the bowl. "Look at this!"

I finally take her bowl away and put the rest of my five spice chicken in front of her so she'll stop with the noodles.

"I don't want to eat it, it's all fat!" she says, her face the same one of anger and disgust.

"No it's not," I argue, pulling huge chunks of meat off. They're cooked so that parts are chewy and crunchy, just like she likes it, with lots of flavor.

"You eat it then!" she seethes.  She continues to pick at the skin with a grimace on her face and throws the piece of chicken on my other plate with the leftover bean sprouts.

"God, you're crabby today!" I say finally hitting my breaking point.  She doesn't hear me.

My grandfather just smiles back at me, knowingly.  He deals with this every day, and I pity him.  I suppose it is a gift that he is starting to forget so much too.  However, this gift is now paid with the price of his doctor telling them they should move into assisted living.  Said they probably should have done it a couple years ago.  This is what my dad tells me when I ask him what he did today and he tells me about how he took them to the doctor.  Sunday's dinner gave him some sort of food poisoning and he ended up falling in the bathroom and hurting his arm when he was vomiting.  My dad said it looked pretty bad.

He also tells me that he had to pick up my dog, Ruby, too and that she jumped in the back with them when she was supposed to sit in the front seat and they screamed.  She reacted by jumping up and standing on the center console.  Finally my dad was able to coax her into the front seat, where he intended for her to sit originally.  It sounded pretty amusing.

Dinner is soon over and my grandfather pays the bill because it's "Stacey's Day" where he treats me to dinner.  Of course, he leaves too little tip, and when he and my grandmother turn towards the door, my father sneaks behind me and leaves more money on the table.  I give them hugs and thank them.

"I hope your arm feels better soon," I tell my grandfather.

"Oh, it's nothing," he smiles at me, holding my grandmother up as they hobble to my father's car.

I look back at them as I go to my own car, filled with hope that next week won't be quite so upsetting.


  1. I did lose it on the way to their house. I said that "Stacey and I were trying to stop you from eating fried things that make you sick. We should have let you eat fried stuff and let you throw up."

  2. Can't take them to Vietnamese...I guess I will cook next week since I don't really get complaints from them when I cook...

  3. They probably don't even remember, Dad. They couldn't even remember why they shouldn't eat fried stuff.

    Thanks, Mom. I always like when you cook.

  4. man I had a lot of ketchup reading to do within the last year (see what i did there!?).. i really enjoyed these stories and it's been neat to follow your journey caring for your grandparents as their health deteriorates. you have so much patience as you lovingly care for them. your hubby is right; you will have awesome kid(s) b/c you'll be such an awesome mom =D

  5. Aw, thanks, Jen. You're so nice! :) And thanks for reading my blog and giving me feedback. I really appreciate it. :)

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