I have people in my life I don’t know well who know about my dad’s condition (dementia resulting from radiation of brain cancer). I don’t go out of my way to hide it and intentionally just treat it like equal to laundry; it is an ordinary, normal part of my life. What I hate is when they ask how my dad is every time we speak. I hate this. I hate this question. It puts me in a terrible position and it’s stupid. Every time I hear the question, it’s like getting a prick on my finger, a little reminder of the current beneath the surface. My reaction is to be wildly ticked off but because I know they are asking to be kind, I have to quell my rage and respond in a socially acceptable way, but I want to be honest so the results always not quite a normal answer. I say things like “he’s rotting, right on time, thanks for asking!” or “he’s great and still has that pesky dementia!”
See? These are terrible, awkward and a little mean, and I feel like serve as a hint that I do not wish to answer the question. The awkwardness. My boss’ father passed many years before and there was a mass in his honor. That seems like a big deal to people who care about this stuff. When I asked about it, he responded rather cavalierly. “Well, my dad doesn’t care, since he’s dead.” I was a little taken aback but I also recognized the anger, and I no longer ask, because I see that he doesn’t want to talk about it. Why would he?