Last week, I was surprised to taste a flavour of grief for this man. I was remembering his gentlemanly manners and kindness to others. My grief was that my children had never had the time to experience this. It is surprising when you think those feelings were dealt with years ago and are long dormant. Then suddenly they appear on your threshold and you wonder where they came from. My sadness was that my children had not had the opportunity to learn from him. I have commonly grieved the fact that he isn’t around to share his intellectual skill and answer their awkward scientific questions, but last weeks’ thoughts were different. I was remembering his manner, his consideration and his humility. He gave people value by the way he treated them. This is what I would have liked my children to learn, first and foremost. He did it through a number of expressions, from the shake of a hand at first greeting to making sure your glass was never empty when you stayed. He was always most concerned about providing for your comfort and would do whatever it took, putting others first. He was very loving.
I’m not idolising him. He was not perfect and was the first to admit that, but I am sad that my children have not had the benefit of observing and learning from him and to love people like he did. It was those expressions, perhaps more old fashioned but an expression of maturity of manner, that I would have liked them to see. What is etiquette, after all, but a way of putting others before ourselves in a social setting. The heart of good etiquette is not self-seeking but a pattern and way of doing things that should put people at ease and show them respect. However, in my grieving thoughts, I found gratitude. I realised that others have stepped into the breach my father left and my children are far from bereft.
With Father’s Day around the corner, it is only natural that I should be thinking of him. These thoughts have been enlarged by a surprise. My cousin gave me this lovely photo of my Papa, yesterday, and though I know the photo I have never had my own copy. What a lovely reminder of a very special father.