Elder Series – Mashed Potatoes

M Dawn Thacker has compiled a series of short stories about elders, their experiences aging, and the challenges they face. M Dawn continues her series with Mashed Potatoes…


The nursing home serves instant mashed potatoes. They come in a gigantic cardboard box and sift in flakes out of a small metal spout into a heavy duty stainless steel pan. The cook adds boiling water from a large holding tank near the coffee maker. He takes a whisk and stirs briskly. Sometimes he adds margarine if he’s feeling no time restraints or especially generous.

I’ve tried the watered flakes. They aren’t like mashed potatoes from home. They are more like bland, white paste, not even the kind of paste from Kindergarten. That had taste.

At least the residents on regular diets have a variety of potatoes, mashed, boiled, fried with onions, browned, or scalloped. The ones on a puree diet have instant mashed potatoes with every lunch and dinner, a scoop of white served along with a scoop of brown and another scoop of green or orange, depending on the day of the week.

I will peel and slice five pounds of Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes, boil them until tender, drain the water from them, add one stick of butter, pour in some whole milk, add salt and pepper to taste and use an electric mixer to beat them until they are smooth and creamy. I will do this every time I eat mashed potatoes, until the day I am facing a spoon, held by someone I don’t know, who is telling me how much I love instant mashed potatoes.

I won’t be able to tell that person, “They are not just like the ones from home,” but I will know.


Mashed Potatoes © 2011 M Dawn Thacker. Read M Dawn’s latest on Now.readthisplease.com and check back for the next story in her Elder Series.


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