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  • I am going to begin this by saying that I was perhaps four at the time of this memory - I would have to research to confirm the exact age - and thus the story is constructed from a mix of my fragmentary memories and family story told to me. I find this believable, and some of the memory-fragments are pretty clearly mine and real, but nonetheless I might not have recalled it without the family stories, and I cannot tell it in whole without them.

    I will also preface this by saying that I grew up on a farm, and had the possibly-lamentable habit of befriending the animals. Then, when one of them appeared on our table, I would ask my parents which one it was, thank the animal, and proceed to dig in. My parents found this amusing by the time they were telling me the stories. I'm not sure if it was amusing or disconcerting at the time, but it does play in to this story, despite the fact that no animal or meal is present in it, as does the fact that occasionally we ate a slightly aged rooster - and the meat is tough.

    Memory: I am small. The room is dim, and it isn't huge to me. I'm focused on my Nana, my father's mother, who is lying down in bed, under the covers. The room smells unpleasant - what I would now say is a hospital sort of smell, but I don't recall if there was sickness or only cleaners. I think perhaps the latter, but my memory no longer supplies it. I do not like the room. But I do not want to say it, I know I should not say it, and my parents are worried. I understand that Nana broke her hip, and I understand that they are worried she might die, but I don't understand how bad a broken hip can be for the aged or why it might lead toward death.

    What I'm told: After a while, my mother took me out of that room, at a nursing home, to walk the grounds while Dad spoke with his mother a while longer. Even once I was outside of the room, she could see I was still upset, and we walked along the pathways, while she waited for me to find words.

    Memory: I am by the side of my mother - I am not looking at her, she's just a Presence to my left. I am looking at the flowers, the very pretty flowers that line the path. This memory is fragmentary, but I remember an absolute profusion of flowers.

    What I'm told: After a while I stopped, and looked up at my mother. Slowly, I found words. "Mommy? If Nana dies...are we going to have to eat her? She's really old, I bet she'd be awfully tough."

    My mother looks around quickly, and determines that no one else has been walking near enough to hear. It gives her time to find words. "No, honey. We don't eat people."

    "Oh. Why not?"

    Mother pauses, trying to find some way to get through to me so that we don't have to have this conversation again. More slowly, she answers, "Well, if someone asked you over to dinner...how would you know what to say?"

    "Oh. OH!"
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