This Monstrous Disease


My dad once told me I only got headaches because I’d seen Tylenol advertised on TV.

“I’ve never gotten a headache,” he said, “and we didn’t have a TV when I was a kid.”

To be sure, he said it like a joke. My dad says everything like a joke.

I didn’t see him take a sick day from work until I was in high school. I’d never even seen him sick at all. I’d seen him injured–burned arms and sliced open fingers (he was a chef and a carpenter), but I don’t think he’d gotten so much as cold in the whole of my childhood.

But when I was a sophomore, one night he was in bed in obvious pain, curled up on his side and not going to work. Not going to work! My dad!

He was crying!

I knew he was going to die and I didn’t know what to do. I stood in the driveway, crying quietly and staring up at the stars. What sort of illness could kill my dad? After a few minutes of dramatic panic, I took a deep breath and went back inside to face this monstrous disease.

But of course, he didn’t die. He was fine the next day. He’d had kidney stones.

Sigh. I wish he’d told me right from the start, but he hadn’t thought I needed to know.

Now my dad is 84 and the world is on lockdown. He lives in Florida, which has over 400 cases as I type this, four of which are in his county.

This Saturday he and his wife (and her multitude of health problems) are going to a great-grandchild’s birthday party.

I don’t even know what to say.


Thanks for reading.

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