Thirty-five years old and still sheltered

My dad had surgery yesterday.

He still hasn’t told me that he had surgery yesterday – I’m 35 years old, but he still feels I should be sheltered from unpleasant truths. There were clues, though. Health-related articles on his desk, reminders for doctor’s appointments on post-it notes in the kitchen, ‘what to do on the day’ information sheets forgotten on the counter, email subject lines, and a notation on my mother’s kitchen calendar for Saturday, September 14th, under the printed caption for Yom Kippur – Micheal, 6am.

I know it sounds like I’ve been snooping, but I do my father’s admin work, so I stumbled upon each clue in the course of doing something else. He lives alone, so he’s not used to hiding ‘incriminating’ information.

On Thursday, he asked me to show an apartment he is trying to rent out. The potential tenant was coming at 2pm on Saturday, while the current tenants were out. “I’m going to be busy all day on Saturday,” he said.

I played along. He doesn’t like to discuss personal subjects. And the surgery was in a sensitive area, so I let him keep his privacy.

On Saturday, I trailed around the apartment after the prospective tenant as she rearranged furniture in her head and picked out paint colours. She did most of her thinking out loud and I did my best to make encouraging noises.

“So your dad’s having surgery today?”

It felt strange to get the confirmation from a stranger.

We were in the bathroom. I was leaning against the white-painted wooden doorframe. She was silhouetted against the black marbled tiles, bent over to inspect the under-sink storage.

“I don’t know,” I said. I watched her face, trying to gauge just how awful a thing it was to admit. “He doesn’t tell me these things.” She paused in her searching to look up at me. “He doesn’t want me to worry.”

“Awww,” she said. “That’s so sweet.”

“Yeah,” I said. I didn’t believe it, but it made the truth more acceptable.


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