Lunch With Father

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It was a different time. A different place. Too far back to remember. Too far ahead to imagine.

He was a busy man. Each day, he went to work. But the work never ended. When he left his desk at work, he went right to his desk at home. He was proud of that desk. It was really not much, but it served his purpose. He polished it up regularly, keeping the surface he worked on clean. Beyond that, piles of papers consumed the rest of the surface area. His wife complained about the mess, but he assured her he knew where everything was.

And he did.

If you ventured anywhere near those piles, he quickly admonished you. “Don’t touch anything! You’ll mess up my filing system.”

Not that he didn’t have a proper filing system. It was meticulous. But it was actually easy to decipher once you understood the pattern.

Still, it was “Dad” stuff. You know what I mean. Serious stuff. Important stuff. The kind of stuff way above your pay grade. Its gravitas befits the man.

So when the out-of-the-blue “would you like to have lunch” invitation came, what could I say? Not much, it turned out, save for an enthusiastic nod of the head. Not that I had to say anything. It was more of a command than a question. While my excitement may have robbed me of speech, and the choice really wasn’t a choice, I held a bearing that displayed nothing less than the reverence I felt.

Lunch with father.

You don’t get many opportunities to do that. And with our schedules veering in opposite directions, the time was soon coming when age would reduce such appointments to mere memories. I jumped at the chance, although it might not have appeared that way. He walked much faster than I could. In fact, to the observant bystanders, his pace seemed artificially restrained as he held my hand to lead me to the car.

The car. Who knew it would represent such a formidable obstacle? He invited me to sit in the front seat. It was an honor bestowed to few, and I understood that.

He motioned towards the passenger door. Before he could open it, though, I made a move to do it myself. He let me. Such patience.

When it became all the more apparent my little legs couldn’t climb up on the seat, he offered to pick me up. I turned him down. I was too proud. Again, he allowed me my dignity.

Giving up, I shifted my attention to the back seat. He watched as I closed the front door. I barely had the strength to get it closed all the way.

Check that. I did have the strength. I just miscalculated the leverage. The need for leverage was new to me.

Again, he showed silent respect by not noticing the partly open door.

Struggling to climb onto the back seat, I shrugged off his effort to lift me. He demurred, taking a polite step back. Finally, I pulled myself in. It was I, not him, that stretched to reach the door. I slammed it shut this time. Hard. Really hard. Maybe to make a statement. Maybe more to myself than to him.

He walked around to the driver’s side, got in, and off we drove to lunch. Lunch with father.

It wasn’t too far before I heard the front passenger door rattle. I looked away in embarrassment. Hopefully, he didn’t hear it. But I know he did. He did his best to make me not hear it.

“Do you want to eat there or take it home?” he asked. I didn’t answer. It made no difference to me. I’d defer to his decision.

“Eat there it is,” he said with a jubilant smile.

My excitement returned. How could it not with that radiant face beaming into the rearview mirror?

We pulled into the empty parking lot and stopped. He came around to open the door for me. Not that I needed his help, but I wanted to lend my appreciation in some manner. I hopped out without help. It was I, not him, that shut the door. Hard. Really hard. I wanted him to see that.

While I was busy trying to impress him, he furtively opened and shut the front door that, until that point, had remained ajar. He then took my hand, and once more, we marched toward the restaurant. Well, I marched. To keep up with him. He strode in slow motion, to avoid pulling me.

Until we got to the curb. There, he pivoted around to make sure I didn’t trip. I made sure to step high. This proved to be no problem.

Inside, we ordered at the counter. Then I got to pick the table. I picked a big one. It looked the most comfortable. He went to go get our drinks. Before he came back, they had brought out our food.

We ate. It was delicious. I can’t remember the last time it tasted so good.

We talked. It was fun. I can’t remember what we talked about, but I remember feeling good.

We listened to the background music. I even hummed along with it. I can’t remember the name of the song, but I could recognize the tune.

And then it was time to go. We had each finished our plates. Well, he did, at least. I still had some leftovers, though my portion was smaller.

But it wasn’t about the food. It was about the companionship.

And as we headed home, all I could think of was when would the next time happen. When would I next have lunch with father?


  1. […] go to a simpler time? Do you flash back or flash forward? Read this week’s Carosa Commentary “Lunch With Father,” and return to a time when the ordinary joys buoyed your day, if not a big part of your […]

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