It all started this way.
I was raised by my parents and teachers thus:
(1) to “doff my hat” when greeting any woman in the street;
(2)to be on the street side when walking with a woman;
(3) to stand up when any woman, (or a man older than I) entered a space in which I was already seated.
I cannot shake these old habits
As I walk out with Penne each day I am an inveterate “hat doffer”.
I did so a couple of times when encountering a woman who not only walks, but “stops to smell the roses”. She was never in a hurry, but seemed to savour every bit of beauty on her walks.
One day I walked t’wards her and as I doffed my hat, she proffered a wee curtsy.
We each grinned and as I confessed my English heritage, so she told me that she was Swedish.
She went on to say that in “her day” in Sweden, as a man doffed his hat, so a woman would effect a little curtsy.
So it is that each day we enjoy the hat and curtsy dance. And we have begun to chat.
She told me that her beloved husband died six years ago. She let me know that she has a lovely daughter and some grandchildren
Then she added that she also has a son, whom she has not seen for many, many years.
With teary sadness she went on to say that she has no clue as to where he lives.
I wanted to hug her but I refrained from doing so. We are but “strangers in the day”. We do not even know each others’ names.
So each day I doff my hat and greet her as “Mrs. Sweden”.
Then she curtsies and calls me “Mr. England”.
“Walking out” has its own gracious conventions.
A "lost son" has its own deep sadness.