It was last Thursday.
It was five PM.
I was starving.
That is why I stopped into the party room on my way out.
"I'll be right there," I'd said to Sven and got in a line that consisted of one big guy who was putting a lot of thought into what exactly he was going to eat.
I pictured hopping in front of him to the trays of cheese, but it seemed like it would have been a little rude.
I would have had to squish between him and his precious thoughts and the two women who were standing in front of the entire spread, wearing business outfits and pearls and chatting in a large and empty room, save for some tables, a shelf of books and an abandoned stage with a lonely guitar hanging on a stand.
When the man finally moved one step to the left, I picked up the lid of the first Nesco in line.
Bacon wrapped water chestnuts.
And next to that one? Little wienies in a sauce.
But, I was in a hurry.
So, I just took two out of the first Nesco. They were easy to carry, being they were on toothpicks.
I would give one of them to Sven.
His doctor told him that he is supposed to gain some weight.
They were hosting an open house at the nursing home that I was standing in. The one that my mother had just been admitted to a couple of hours prior, after a brief stay at the hospital two days earlier.
All due to a slight misstep at home.
That is why Sven and I and my two sisters, Louisa and Kiki were there to begin with.
But we couldn't stay real long.
We had a wake to attend.
It was turning out to be a banner week of fun filled activities for everybody, including my sister Kiki from Georgia and my brother and sister-in-law and family visiting from Kentucky.
They however were on their way back to Louisville.
My stomach rumbled as we sat around in my mother's room and talked about her new temporary digs and rearranged her furniture to suit everyone's needs and cut the stems of the flowers and stuck the bright and cheerful bouquet into the vase.
Sven always disappears.
"They didn't have any plates," he says, returning with some kind of a fancy hors d'oeuvre on a toothpick. "Or I would have gotten one for you."
"Is there a lot of food in there?" I'd said.
"Yeah. And music too."
"There's a guy playing a guitar."
"Wow, this is a real snazzy place you are staying in, Le Mere," said Louisa.
I wasn't about to snap at Sven for slighting me on the snack, even as starved as I was, being after work, the time of day when I could easily eat the ass out of a horse.
Sven hadn't been feeling well for a few days. He'd gone and toppled right over at the lumber counter at the hardware store.
That is what sent him to the same doctor that had said he needed to gain some weight, after drawing blood, checking him out and sending him to the hospital for a CT scan.
This all occurred on the same day that my mother had taken her misstep which sent her to the nursing home.
And the same day that my sister-in-law's father passed.
"Well, this place is absolutely beautiful," we said, trying to think of positive things to say in an otherwise depressing reality of, "ain't nobody getting any younger in this here room."
"Yes, it really is nice. They just remodeled the whole thing," said my mom.
"Oh. So that's why everything looks brand new."
"Except for the windows," said my mom. "Why would you not replace the windows?"
"Too bad we already scratched up your pretty floor spinning you around in your chair."
"Yes. That is a shame."
People were in and out, checking for this and for that. The usual wild and crazy hubbub of a nursing home on a Thursday afternoon.
And then we had to say good-bye.
The wake was going to be a big one, for a man with a long history, a large family and a lot of friends.
A man who will be dearly missed.
That's when I said, "I'll be right there," and I'd popped into the party room and I'd hopped into the line which consisted of just one oversized guy who was putting an awful lot of thought into what he wanted to eat.
I walked out of there with two bacon wrapped water chestnuts a few minutes later.
I ate one immediately.
And then I realized that all of the halls in the newly renovated building just led to more halls of resident rooms.
A young guy with a thick head of dark hair standing at a pinnacle corner pointed me in the right direction.
And there it was.
Through the large double glass doors I'd entered forty-five minutes earlier it appeared as though something big was underway.
A slew of people, all decked out, were lined up with their backs to the doors.
They were right in front of them.
It did not seem to be the appropriate time to open one.
"What's going on out there?" I said to the girl at the front desk who was staring ahead like a zombie and chewing on a sandwich.
"Ah. They're having a ribbon cutting ceremony."
"Oh. How long do ribbon cutting ceremonies last?" I aked.
"I really don't know," she answered. "It's my first one."
I could only imagine. She looked to be about twenty-four. It was my first ribbon cutting as well.
I wandered ten feet back to the glass doors and stood in front of them, gaping.
"Oh crap," I thought. "Is that an ever-loving microphone? Is that dude out there in the suit going to give a speech?"
I stared at all of their backs in dismay.
Would this be my breaking point?
It was real hot out there.
Hot and sticky.
Humidity in the uncomfortable zone, per Charlie on channel three.
"I bet they're sweating under their fancy shit," I thought.
Then they started rearranging all the important people into a line.
There were cameras everywhere.
I just stood there, staring off into space, trapped between the front desk of a freaking nursing home and a glass entryway to a world that I was not very fond of.
I was real busy feeling real sorry for myself.
And that is when it happened.
"Excuse me," said a slim, blonde woman, sporting a business suit with a tapered skirt that came down to her perfect shins and tiny ankles that disappeared into spikey heels. She'd opened a glass door just a crack from the outside world, and had broken into my very private, Millie Noe only, pity-party.
"I don't mean to be rude," she says. "But you are standing in our picture."
"Oh," I said. "I'm sorry."
And I ran to my only friend in the world who was sitting behind her desk stuffing a Frito into her mouth.
"Is there any other way out of this building?" I said. "You see, my husband is in the car waiting for me. It's hot out and we are going to be late for a wake."
Perhaps she could sense the tears that were welling.
Perhaps she knew that I was about to blow.
Perhaps she just wanted to get rid of me so that she could finish her dinner in peace.
She led me to a secret area through the food service department and she told me that it was very illegal for her to do this, but under the circumstances it seemed appropriate. And then she pushed some buttons with a secret code and then she let me out in the middle of nowhere.
And then she wished me luck.
That is the moment that I ate Sven's bacon wrapped water chestnut.
The next day there was a Catholic send off for Ron to his newfound eternal life in another kingdom.
My mother, The Bionic Woman, settled into her new temporary life in a nicely renovated building.
My sweet Sven stayed home and he baked himself a chicken and he boiled potatoes to mash and stick under his gravy.
The rest of my family began to pick up the pieces and carry on with all that life has to offer and all that it does not.
Me and my sisters?
We threw ourselves a little slumber party at Le Mere's condo.
We were able to capture our inner beauty with just one simple little selfie shot. Just one click of the camera was all it took.
"You photo bombed the mayor of Middleton?"
"Damn straight, I did."