A man with quiet dignity

I miss my dad. An endless well of grief brings tears to my eyes whenever I think of him. He was not a man I understood well when he was alive because we were so different. But as the years pass I am gaining a deeper understanding of him and how, in fact, we are so much more alike than I ever realized.

My dad was not a boisterous or jovial man, he was a man of quiet dignity. He was six feet tall, slender and well-built, with thinning white hair and a trim gray mustache. He had a rather serious demeanor. For most of my life I took this to mean he was stern and judging. But now I wonder if he was just socialized to appear serious and if in fact he felt things deeply and he looked upon us tenderly and he just didn’t know how to express those things.

He always looked sharp. He was a naturally handsome man and he dressed to impress. He had an innate sense of style and would wear dress shirts and dress pants that fit well and colors that suited him. He even exercised in a pressed shirt, dress pants and dress shoes. He was extremely quiet but he communicated volumes with the way he carried himself and presented to the world.

He didn’t tolerate slovenliness. I remember when I was a kid and he came home from work he would tell me to sit up straight while I watched TV. At the time and a long time after I thought this rather unnecessary and I resented him for it, but now I see it was part of his idea of what it meant to be dignified and he wanted to instill it in me too.

You would NEVER catch my father in a sweat shirt or sweat pants. When he got sick and he was no longer mobile, we had to purchase sweat pants for him as they made it easier for the caregivers to care for him. When he was no longer able to dress himself it was heartbreaking that he was finally reduced to wearing sweat shirts and sweat pants to the dinner table and for walks around the neighborhood. That was not who he was. When he was well, when he was himself, he prided himself in his impeccable presentation.

Fast forward to 2020, four years after my dad died of complications from a stroke I find myself dressing to impress too. Even during the Coronavirus quarantine when there is no one around to impress I find that I feel good when I dress with my best clothes, put my make up on, and do my hair. I was not so much like this before he died but I have taken this quality of his on now. Perhaps it is a subconscious tribute to him. But he was on to something. Not only is dressing well, presenting yourself neatly and beautifully good for first impressions, it sets a tone for yourself and others around you of dignity and self-respect. I dress well for myself first and foremost, as he surely must have, and the rest is just icing on the cake. Thanks dad for continuing to teach me things even after you’ve gone from the world.