The only thing to do, I decided, was to talk to Father directly. He listened more receptively to my counsel than my mother had.
"No doubt, no doubt. You're absolutely correct. However, at the end of the day it's my body, and over the years I've come to know it well. More than any one else, I believe I know its limitations and its needs."
My mother listened with a wry smile. "See what I mean?" she said.
"Even so, Father's resolved himself to what's coming. That's why he was so pleased to see me graduate and return home with my diploma. He told me himself he didn't think he'd live to see the day, much less still have his health."
"Don't be fooled by what he says. Deep down, he knows he still has time."
"You really think so?"
"He intends to keep on. Maybe for ten years, maybe for twenty. Granted, he does worry me at times. He tells me he doesn't have long. Then he asks what I'll do when he's gone, if I can manage alone."
I suddenly imagined my mother, minus my father, in this big old country house. Could she run things herself with Father gone? What would my elder brother do? What would Mother's wishes be? In light of all that, could I leave this place for a comfortable existence in Tōkyō? As thoughts of Mother filled my mind, I also recalled what Sensei had said - if there's property involved, receive your due share now, while your father is still of sound mind and body.
"Not to worry. The ones who say they're dying never do. Who knows how many years he'll go on, pronouncing his own demise all the while. It's the healthy ones, with nothing to complain of, who end up going first."
I listened in silence to my mother's clichéd remark, defensible by neither rational thought nor statistical evidence.