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  • It was the snick and slide of tearing metal that snagged my attention.

    I turned my head in time to see her pouring Carnation milk into the syringe of her feeding tube. She was talking to her lunch partner who was returning her smiles with easy ones of his own. Their conversation, his company had to have been far more nourishing than her task at hand. She paid him long, pausing looks and threw only cursory glances at the can. And when she set it back on the table, she ceased glancing at it altogether.

    My grandmother was on a feeding tube.
    I am more than familiar with the ritual of keeping her hydrated and her tube clean.
    She was no longer cognizant by the time the tube was put in.
    Even so, I made sure never to eat or drink in front of her again.

    So I was silently appalled to see this woman and her companion seated at the table by the window. Appalled still, by how happy she appeared to be. To me, their casual demeanor and cafe outing had been made, at once, irrelevant and inappropriate by the presence of that damned tube. No doubt he was planning on eating, on doing so in front of her. No doubt she wanted to witness it. How could he? And perhaps, more importantly, how could she?

    In my shock, I imagined callousness and assigned blame where there was none. Sad how having a sense of righteousness, of courtesy can render a person narrow-minded. I hadn't realized just how judgmental I, with my burden of experience, had become.

    The thing is, I am glad for her. I really am. I am glad that she is wise and carefree enough to seize personal choice by its horns. And I am glad that her companion respects her enough to set aside his misgivings, if he had any, and just...carry on.

    Yet, I cannot help but wonder whether I, in my cautiousness and indignation, or he, in his caring apathy and acceptance, had ever truly been rude?
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