A Promise Not Kept

by Winfried Strathmann

He beseeched me to get him out of there—or to kill him. When he first made the request, he did it in the certainty that there was simply no question about my ability and my willingness to comply with either option. “There” was a nursing home in the North Bronx, with no privacy, no darkness, no silence. Ever. For Bob it was hell.

As the weeks went by, things happened. There were episodes of verbal abuse directed at the staff.  He once ran away, was caught, and was moved to what was in effect a locked ward. He had become incontinent. And he was poor. No other nursing home would have him with that history and in that condition.

He and I were still allowed to go out sometimes and have lunch, usually at the Hispanic chicken joint under the no. 2 elevated subway tracks at Allerton Avenue. I had to sign us out and back in. We could have fled then. I was his friend. At the very least, I could have helped with clothes, money, and a ticket for him to run away by himself—and perhaps even with a gun. But I couldn’t do it. And I couldn’t kill him. How does one kill a friend?

Bob died the same way he had lived: alone. Quite a few people had loved him.

  1. perpetua says:

    So succinct and so Robert. And so you.


  2. robert griffith says:

    thanks Winnie, that was very moving and true – bob griffith


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