This was a man who was born in Poland, trained for the Royal Air Force in England during World War II after his homeland had been invaded and devastated, had married in London and then immigrated to the United States where he built a successful career as a professional electrical engineer, fathered three boys and two girls and lived a life of class and style.
When he was with women you could see there was an enjoyment of the grace and style that exuded class. Once of the specific things I recall to this day is that at the end of dinner parties in our home, as he was saying goodbye to the guests, each woman got her hand kissed. That moment always stood out as something special, and it was one of the things that set him apart.
The women always seemed to respond with the same kind of grace, and it gave each party a beautiful and memorable finishing touch of elegance.
That class and elegance were something you could see mattered to him. It extended to the ballroom dancing he would do when attending a formal Polish ball, dressed to the nines. The way he danced with my mother on the dance floor was always a loving pairing. Yet it also extended to when he would dance with other women at the dances, including the young woman I escorted to some of these formal balls, his future daughter-in-law, my wife Luisa.
All those little touches made him stand out. He was a model of classy behavior and could always be counted upon to make sure things were done as properly as can be. I am grateful to have been able to see his focus on how to interact in public, something I am sure had to do with a European upbringing as well as coming to the U.S. in need of being able to succeed.
Chivalry isn't a stand-alone action, something separate from what defines a man, It's a choice and an extension of how he chooses to live his life. How he chooses to treat others. And as such how he chooses to feel about himself. It adds class and elegance to one's comportment and leaves a mark that's memorable.
Thanks, Tatuś, for instilling in me even a fraction of the strong character with which you lived.