Steve is 87. He is trying to get to his house from the supermarket. He has a cane. Steve wants to be independent because he wants to do stuff on his own. He thinks he can do things but he realizes that he needs help doing all that stuff. He can’t really shop on his own- he has a hard time carrying it all back because he isn’t very strong. He needs someone to help. So he goes to a retirement home. All the people there are really mean. He is just unhappy because he thought he could do stuff that he wanted to do on his own but he can’t. He feels ashamed of himself, so he went back to his real house on his own one year later. He let his kids go away but he actually needs them. They are on a trip for a year. His kids are on a trip to Mexico tasting different foods. He had a hard time cleaning around the house, fixing old broken stuff like old chairs, and most of all, grocery shopping.
As he gets home, all the groceries fall through the bag onto the ground and make a big mess. There are tomatoes and spilled milk and spinach and celery and salad stuff. There is also a little box of cookies. He remembers when he was little that on the Fourth of July he couldn’t light a firework but his brothers could. This was because he was the youngest and his mom and dad didn’t trust him. When he went grocery shopping with his mom and dad, he couldn’t carry the milk and the eggs and all the heavy stuff because he wasn’t strong enough. So now, he gets people to help him just like he had to when he was younger. He’s sick of this! He only got to carry snacks as a kid and now he spills milk
In a couple of days, his kids are coming back to help him. He decides to fight through those days and get stuff he needs to get done until they come. He tries to fix a broken chair. His hands shake while putting the nail in the chair, and he struggles while hitting the nail with a hammer. He’s a little scared because if he messes up, he’ll go back to the retirement home. He doesn’t like that; things are breaking there, and not all the people are nice. He doesn’t have any friends there. At home, he likes being by himself. He’s more comfortable because he knows where everything is. He’s lived there for nine years.
It’s a dark blue house with a few bedrooms and circular windows. There is a pool in the backyard. There is also a wooden fence painted red. The lawn is all bright green grass.
One day before his kids get back, Steve gets hurt by a broken chair. Steve was sitting in the chair when the chair fell and Steve hurt his back. It hurt really, really, really bad. He cannot get up! He calls the police to get some help. The ambulance comes and they put him in a stretcher. They bring them to the hospital. Steve is nervous because he broke his back and doesn’t want to go to the retirement home. He has surgery but he doesn’t remember because they give him sleepy gas. When he wakes up he is still sleepy.
His kids Nina and Nick are at his house. When he wakes up, they say, “You need to go back to the retirement home. You broke your back and you need someone to help you.”
He is sad and disappointed because he has to go back. “I agree with you because I broke my back and no one’s here to watch me.”
He thought his kids were staying with him but they are not staying. Nina works at a movie theatre. Nick is working at a corndog stand. Steve cannot bring any furniture to the retirement home. He has a vase he really likes but isn’t allowed to bring. He can only bring his clothes. He keeps the vase in his house. The furniture at the retirement home reminds him of a hotel.
Steve makes a new friend named Sarah. Sarah is 69 and used to teach the fourth grade. Sarah really liked her job because she loves teaching people. She also had a really bad fall. Sarah fell off a horse and had to come to the retirement home. She can still walk, but only a little bit, and has to use a cane. Even though she is 69, she still has brown hair. Because Sarah and Steve became such good friends, he didn’t hate the retirement home as much anymore.