Contemplation at Sea Surface Temperature

An Exercise in Chivalry

In Things My Father Used to Do, Underlying Current on April 9, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Throughout the years I’ve come to learn a great many things from my father.

Amongst those, chivalry has come easiest.

Dad was always a true gentleman; cut from the considerate cloth itself.  The feat of incorporating loving thought into action seemed as easy for him as breathing or so he portrayed throughout our everyday life. Though it was made known to me that my father was raised to conduct himself with virtue in all matters, there was something even more evident as to his motivation of generosity and selfless deed.

The reason has never been complicated.

He loved my mother and in the truest sense of the word and it has just always been this way. His reverent heart paid her homage with a devotion I have yet to see paralleled and this endearment nearly divine, spilled over into the natural order of how a day is spent and a life is lived.

There’s so much more to be said of such a romantic existence, but I’ll push on to the topic at hand which is the attempt to illustrate my conviction in the most candid of life’s experiences.


Our town was a small one in northern Arizona and we had but a single steakhouse, “Trappers”. Though ours was a small family of three, to say that we dined there infrequently would be an understatement.  Incidentally, I’ve always carried with me the fondness of a memory finding the three of us at one of their dinner tables on one such rare occasion. The motions, mood and revelation of that evening, I recall with complete clarity and hope I can convey at least the notion.

The memento I’ve carried with me is a reminiscence that descends upon us finishing our meal together.  Dad paid the check, our waiter left us seated and we unhurriedly readied ourselves to leave.  During this time, my father reached across the table for my mother’s attention and he looked into her face with a gentle smile ever so familiar.  She complied and meeting him half-way, rubbed her thumb across the coarseness of his back hand.  I noticed that his eyes followed and then looking up, he said

“Thank you for having dinner with me.”

Now this must have been about the time in my adolescence whereas I was becoming more keenly aware of the finances we did or didn’t have and the value of the dollar scarcely in my pocket.  Recalling the moment sparked from his seemingly unconventional comment, I imagine myself then with jaw half dropped, turned now intently towards him with a full facial expression of disbelief.   My youthful mind went to work on the rationale while I recounted the steps leading up to this paradox.  The only reasonable deduction I could make was that we should have been the ones thanking him for such an evening out; one which was paid for by the hard-earned wages he ground out of the local paper mill.  In all earnestness, there was no compelling reason for him to bring us out to dinner on no special occasion and with me, his teenage step-son in full tow.  (Let alone thank us for accepting the invitation, this was something for us to be grateful for, right?)

My eyes turned now to my mother and the forthcoming response.  I fully expected her to vocalize a slight objection to his thanks, and instead offer our gratitude in return. Conversely, I remember the girlish smile she displayed as with many other moments of public tenderness shared between them.  In these instances, her head was always tilted just a bit as she looked at him with pursed lips.   She may have even faintly batted her eyes now that I think of it, revealing a sweetheart’s bashful acceptance of a compliment bestowed.  She simply replied

“You’re welcome..”

  1. LOL! I did not finish one of my sentences! HEHEHE! Great post. Keep going. The world needs to know these things.

  2. Great story, great blog! Keep ’em comin’!

  3. What a wonderful snapshot into a personal moment of the admiration, respect and love your Parents had for each other, so eloquently written. It is a hard thing to do; put people into a situation, a moment in time through nothing but words, but I was there, it was beautiful.

    I agree with Crystal, we all need to recognise and share these moments.

  4. Your portrayal makes my heart swell and question, “Where can I find a love like this?”. Surely, he is of an almost extinct class of gentlemen.

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