On the way to work today I decided to stop off at my father’s bakery to pick up an apple Danish to take into work.
I must have been feeling brave.
When I got there I was not expecting to be served by him. I only expected to get a glimpse of him out the back of the bakery. I don’t know why I wanted a glimpse of him. Maybe because he is my father and somewhere inside me I am still that needy child.
However, when I got there it was he who came out from the back to attend to me.
My anxiety levels exploded out from their hiding place and surged into every part of my body and brain. Immediately I started to sweat in places I don’t usually sweat – like the back of my knees. I could feel it. My palms where wet.
Of course, I maintained absolute composure.
He asked what I would like. I told him.
After a minute or so I realised that he did not recognise me at all. Despite polite eye contact there was not a sign of any realisation that his daughter was standing in front of him.
This realisation gave me the chance to observe him as he organised things for my purchase. His movements were slow as he put the long apple Danish into the cardboard tray and then into a brown bag. His voice was quiet and that of an old man. He looked so different. So old.
At the end of it I handed him the money and has he gave me the change I said “thanks Dad” and then went to my car.
I wondered if he did actually recognise me and chose to pretend he didn’t. That is definitely his modus operandi. Fling the arrow knowing exactly where to cause the most pain.
Then I thought that maybe I had changed so much in the past ten years or so that he really, really had no idea that it was Linda standing there. After all, I am now a grey haired, tattooed middle aged woman. My voice is the same though. My eyes too.
No, sadly I do think he chose not to acknowledge me.
What floored me was how old he looked. How old he moved. How old he sounded. He turned eighty last year and I suppose that is kind of old in its own way and he has been sick which is inclined to be ageing in itself.
I don’t mind old. People get old. That is how it is unless you die young. It’s just that, well, I dunno. Maybe I thought he wouldn’t get that old. Maybe I thought he would get kind of a different old.
I got to work after that and it took about an hour or so to get back to “normal” anxiety levels.
Now I am having an afternoon cup of green tea and a piece of the pastry I bought. The slivered almonds encrusted in sugar decorate the pastry as they always did and I have picked a few of them off to see if they are just as delicious as always.
They have not changed.
Everything else has.