Essay: My Dad Knew

Jul 31, 2020

When I was growing up, summer vacations were often two-week road trips to scenic destinations.  Our family of four would stay together in motels and eat in restaurants—which seemed exciting at first.  After a few days, however, I wasn’t feeling well—with a stomach ache and no appetite.


I didn’t know what was wrong with me but my dad did. Without explaining anything to the family, he just suggested, “Let’s give Karen some time to herself while we go get supper.”  For the first time in a week, I was alone, alone with a private bathroom, and that solved my problem.

By the time my parents and brother returned, I was cheerful and relaxed and hungry.  Anticipating these results, my dad had brought me a piece of chocolate cake.

Now, my father could often be distant and critical, but there were moments like this when he was surprisingly sensitive and kind. I wish he could have been that way more often and don’t know why he wasn’t.  Maybe nobody showed him how.

I never thanked him for his quiet understanding on our road trip but I have remembered it forever.  He taught me that privacy is something we all need and have a right to.  With no apologies.  “You go ahead, I won’t be long.”