I Admire Men Who Do These Things Right!
When women chatter away, men use very few words. My Dad use to quote, “It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” I admire the men in my life who speak and live their lives with purpose. A few of the lessons I learned are these:
Remember people’s names: Know the folks around you; not just the boss, but the working persons. In the military there is a strong sense of hierarchy. When we stopped by to visit my father-in-law on base, not only did he have the respect of all his superiors, but he knew the names of the maintenance people, the cooks, the dishwasher, and the gas station attendant. He stopped to asked them a simple question like: “How’s your wife and new baby doing?” I watched people light up because he took an interest in them. I’ve watched his son and grandson carry on this trait.
Don’t put off dreams: When my father-in-law was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, he committed to doing all the things he’d talked about doing. He spent 10 days in a raft floating down a river to experience it and build a memory with his son. He went fishing for the grand-daddy of the lake with his grandkids. He danced with his grand-daughter and taught me the virtues of a good quality brandy. And when the days came that he couldn’t get out of his chair, we had wonderful memories to discuss.
Pass on the blessing. Before my father-in-law passed away, he told every family member what they meant to him. It wasn’t long or eloquent but it meant the world to each one of us. All he said to me was, “You are the best thing that ever happened to my son. Don’t forget that.” When things get bumpy with my husband and I, I remember those words. He said to my husband, “I’m so proud of you and your little family. You are a better father and husband than I ever was.” It changed my man. I saw my husband grow by leaps in his confidence after that praise.
Work ethics matter. As a Chief in the Navy, his work ethics were impeccable. He always had a job we could do for him or a neighbor. The finished job was inspected as if it were an entrance requirement into a topnotch CEO position. I learned to work to pass the white-glove test.
Value myself. My Dad was always quick to nurture my entrepreneur spirit and paid for jobs completed that he didn’t want to do. He always let me set the price. I remember buffing out and waxing a twenty-five-year old car by hand. The day job I thought I would earn $50 doing, took me almost a week to do. I learned to consider the task better, and to not undervalue myself. He did pay me $200 when the car sold, but the lesson stuck. I still hear his voice in my head reminding me I can be anything I want in life if I’m willing to work for it.
Everyone has a story. It’s easy to judge or complain. My neighbor, always tender-hearted and kind toward everyone is the calm amidst any storm and the first to find value in everyone. When I asked where this quality comes from within him, he reminds me that as a boy, soldiers rushed into their town telling them they had ten minutes to get out or be bombed. War came to their town. His family ran from their home with only the clothes on their backs and the things they could grab. A family, that could have been arrested for helping them did so anyway. He’s never forgotten that kindness and extends it to everyone he meets. I aspire to be like him.
Be inclusive. My step-father was famous for asking people what was going on in their life. If we were sitting in a group, he made certain that every person was given an opportunity to share. Everyone left the gathering feeling as if they mattered. That’s a rare trait these days.
Climb the mountain but look down the hill. When I first moved my writing career to the online world, there was much to learn in the technological world. Kids today are practically born knowing how to program remote controls and building websites in HTML language before they arrive at kindergarten. My son, (a website designer) is always quick to help me learn the newest and the ‘how-to’ of it; but I get overwhelmed and frustrated easily when things don’t work the way I want them to. He inspired me by hanging a sign in my office that says, “Take pride in how far you’ve come, and have faith in how far you can go.” He’s also the first to remind me that I am a lighthouse that shines a light to guide wayward sailors to a safe port. His words keep me going on days when I’d rather quit.
Love in spite of, not if or when. My husband is one of the most charismatic people I know. He finds good in everyone, and every situation. He loves me when I’m a pleasure and a pill. I know him well enough to see when he’d rather rant and rave, but his patience exudes an inner maturity that’s tough to find. If we weren’t married, I’d be looking for a man like him.
I value the men in my life, but more than that, I respect them and aspire to be more like them. The character traits they have displayed in their actions or a few words make them leaders and examples in our family and our town. Legacies are passed on whether they’re good or bad, I’m thankful we have a rich inheritance.
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General Election: Nov 3, 2020
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