“A gentleman is one who puts more into the world than he takes out. ” George Bernard Shaw
In the last few weeks, we have lost a dear family Patriarch. I met this man in 1981 when I started dating my husband. Our first meeting was at the Family BBQ, which for those of you who have never experienced one, is an experience you almost need to mentally prepare yourself for. At my first family BBQ there were some visitors from Scotland in addition to the normally intimidating crew.
I had no idea where to start with this crowd. There are some pretty big personalities to deal with, and if you are new to the crowd they make the most of it and have a bit of fun. It can be a bit of a feeding frenzy, everyone quizzing you on what your intentions are with “Our Boy”. I made my way through the crowd, doing my best to avoid answering any of the questions. And then I was introduced to the visitors from Scotland. I found that they spoke so swiftly that I had absolutely no idea what they were saying. I began nodding in earnest, agreeing with everything that they said and then realized that this probably was not a great idea. They could be asking me important questions that I was simply agreeing to. You know so are you planning to marry ‘Our Boy’? I politely escaped from this trap and moved on. Feeling a little like a caged animal, I searched the group for a potential soft place to land.
Then I spotted him. He had a soft manner, and kind presence. I made my way over to talk to him, and after only a few moments of chatting with him realized that I had found my lifeline. I could tell by his gentle demeanor, and polite manner that this would be the soft place to land. He was true to my first impression through all these years. To me he became the ‘kind gentlemen. ‘
He was the one in the crowd always looking for that one person, the rookie to the group, the teenager who really didn’t want to be here, to throw them a lifeline. He would saunter up ever so gently and engage you in conversation. Wondering how things were with you, and sharing a bit about what he and his family were up to. When he spoke of his wife and daughters, and eventually his son-in-law you always knew that this was what was of the utmost importance to this man. I loved and appreciated this most about him. He had a soft spoken gentleness about him, was genuinely interested in what you were telling him, and always you could see the love and respect he had for his family in his eyes.
Over the years I watched him, and saw that my first impression of him was in fact true. He was looking for those that might be feeling awkward in the large group and helping them to feel more comfortable. A few years ago when my own mother was ill, and we were hosting the family BBQ, I invited her as she knew many of the extended family. She was not well enough to really visit, and could not have made it even off the deck onto the lawn. I was a little worried about this, but we all wanted her there. As I was busy hosting, I felt bad about leaving Mom sitting at the table on the deck when everyone was playing games on the lawn, and visiting in the yard. In a bit of a panic, feeling spread a little thin I looked out to see how she was doing and with the greatest relief saw that the “kind gentleman had pulled up a chair and was keeping her company for me. I felt a flood of relief and gratefulness and wondered at how I could have thought it might be any other way. The family’s kind gentleman had stepped in and lent a helping hand as usual.
This is what he means to me, he is the gentlemen who had his eyes on all those present, and he was tender towards those that were bashful, gentle towards those that are vulnerable. He will be missed at every family bbq from here on in, but I will try to remember the gentle things he taught me to always be watching for those that just might need a helping hand.
Lovingly Remembered and Greatly Missed