*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I witnessed firsthand; used with permission.
My parents invited several distant family members from overseas to our home for dinner. The guests were my father's cousin and her two adult children: a son and a daughter.
We didn't know what they liked to eat, so I helped my mother prepare a vast selection of dishes. We cooked all morning and into the afternoon to ensure our guests would feel satisfied. After all our hard work, we felt confident we had something for everyone's taste.
No sooner had our guests of honor arrived than my second cousin's son started scowling at the food laid out on the kitchen table. His look of displeasure was impossible to ignore.
My mother and I exchanged puzzled glances behind the young man's back and resumed setting the table. We still had to put the finishing touches on a few of the dishes, and we didn't have time to figure out what was wrong with our guest's sour expression.
We all sat around the kitchen table to eat. My mother and I noticed the young man, who was still scowling, whispering animately in his mother's ear.
The older woman kept shushing him and shooing him away, but he persisted. There was clearly a problem, and they were the only two people who knew about it. The young man resumed his frantic whispering in his mother's ear.
When the older woman continued ignoring him, he pushed his chair back from the table, stood up, and announced, "My. mother can't eat any of this food. She has a heart condition, and this food all looks like trouble. She should have told you what she can eat, how to cook it, and how to season it before we agreed to come over for dinner."
His mother looked upset. "There is so much food on this table. I am sure I can find something to eat," she said. "I just can't eat everything you cooked."
"No," her son protested. "There's nothing here for you. I don't want you to eat any of the food on this table. You're not touching this food. The only thing you can have in this kitchen is a glass of water to wash down your heart medication, and that's it."
My mother and I felt shocked and dismayed. We had worked for hours to cook a multi-course meal in my father's cousin's honor, and her son refused to allow her to eat a single bite.
We were sympathetic to the young man's point of view. It was understandable that he wanted nothing bad to happen to his mother, but did he have to be so rude?
If they had notified us of the woman's dietary restrictions, we would have been more than happy to oblige her. It wasn't our fault no one mentioned her dietary needs until it was too late.
Ever since that day, my mother has hesitated before inviting anyone over for dinner. I can't say I blame her.
How would you have handled a situation like this? Comments are welcome.