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READY: Life lessons learned from the men in my life

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
Mary Ready

Like most women, I enjoy the occasional “male-bashing” conversation with like-minded sisters:

Q. How many men does it take to change a toilet paper roll?

A.No one knows since it’s never been done before.

But the truth is, my most profound and positive influences have been men. I owe a lot to my grandfather, my father, my husband, my sons, and my Heavenly Father.

From Grandpa Langford I learned the delight of being defended and protected, even when I didn’t deserve it. He was the gallant champion who once scooped me up, saving me from my mother’s wrath when she was intent on spanking me for throwing firecrackers into a roaring fireplace with several aunts and uncles warming themselves at the hearth. He even saved me from a deranged old goose that attacked me (after I poked it with a broom). Consequently, that foul-humored fowl found himself in Grandma’s oven, and justice was served with gravy and potatoes for supper that night. From that dear man, I learned there is a time to be a little Princess, spoiled brat.

My Dad continued the spoiling since I was an only child, and he was always proud of my accomplishments and good grades. He bragged on me to the point of embarrassment. But he also taught me respect and compassion for others. He was a model of unselfishness and encouraged me to share whatever I may have with those who are less privileged. I watched as his generous heart kept giving and giving. Friends learned never to tell my Dad they admired something of his (lawn mower, power tool, etc.) or they’d have to take it home with them. He tipped waitresses way too much and gave his can collecting money to charity. He was also the bravest man I ever knew, whether dodging enemy fire as one of the last American soldiers out of Saigon while evacuating others or climbing up on our roof with his bad knees and falling off. I didn’t inherit much of his bravery, but I got an ample portion of his recklessness.  

From my husband, Frank, I continued to learn lessons in generosity as he, too, had a big heart that was always reaching out to others. Even months after his death, people still share with me some act of kindness he did for them that I never even knew about. Frank also taught me to try new things. I learned to put down a good book or my gardening shears and climb up behind him on his motorcycle. He took me fishing, hunting, biking, and adventuring in ways that challenged my stay-at-home philosophy. In fairness, he went to the opera and ballet with me, and I forgave him when he fell asleep during the performances. Since we had very little in common, I learned to accept not only him but others who have a very different outlook on things. Most important, I learned from him that good fathers — such a he was — teach their sons and daughters life skills that they, in turn, will pass on to their own children. My boys were blessed with such a father. 

I’ve watched as my son, the father of three-year-old Catie, sits down to a tea party with her. Seeing a grown man wearing earrings, a pink feathered hat and boa and sipping “tea” is just about the most precious sight a mother or grandmother will ever witness. He is an excellent Daddy whose little girl adores him. And he does a pretty good French braid, too.

From my Heavenly Father, I am still learning.

Grace, mercy, forgiveness, patience, self-control.  All the fruit of the Spirit that doesn’t come naturally to me. Recently, He’s been working on me about not giving up on people. He hasn’t given up on me, so I have a role Model.

My grandfather, father, and husband are in heaven along with my Divine Father.

When I was recently re-reading some of the sympathy cards I received after Frank’s death, I came across two sentiments that made me think of Grandpa, Daddy, and Frank:

“Love, like the ocean, continues beyond the horizon, and life, like the sun, shines where we can not see.”

“Because we loved, there will be tears. Because we laughed, there will be memories. Because they lived, there will still be joy.”

Happy Father’s Day to the men in my life with gratitude for the lessons learned.

Mary Ready of Destin is a twice-retired English teacher and long-time area resident. Her columns are published on Saturdays.