10.24.2010

Creating My Own Masculinity Pt 2

There have been a number of men in my life that have meant a great deal to me. Each of them has taught me a little something that I have used to construct my own idea of masculinity. I have tried not to use stereotypes in creating my male self but I have to say there are a few things I have learned and put into my masculinity repertoire. OK that sounds kinda dumb but I do sort of carry around a little mental bag of miscellaneous artifacts that are shiny little representations of my own idea of masculinity.

I've learned a lot about men and about how different men are from each other. It never fails to amaze me how different people are and how amazing every person really is. Painting any group with a single brush covers up their individual beauty and diversity and makes us blind to the possibility of seeing similarities or opportunities to learn. The men in my life have taught me great things about strength, generosity, kindness, patience, and bravery.*

The first and probably biggest influence on me as a boy was my Grandfather. He was a great man. He was funny and tender and generous. His family was important to him and he set a positive example for other men in the community. He raised eight children to be amazing, smart, kind, understanding and open-minded people, who raised another generation of amazing people. I remember going to visit my grandmother a few years after his death and she answered the door with tears in her eyes. When I asked her why she was crying she said that she had been reading love letters he had written to her during the war. She still loves him and it has been thirteen years since we lost him.

My Grandpa fought in the second world war when he was just a kid. I saw photos of him and my grandmother during the war and I was surprised at how young they looked. He was a really handsome guy with wildly curly hair and an easygoing smile. He never talked about it much and it was a rare time that he would tell us about shaving another kid's head while on the boat on his way to Europe or about canoeing up a river into an ambush. He fought with the Americans in the Alutian islands off the coast of Alaska against the Japanese. Every year on Remembrance Day he would play his trumpet at the cenotaph. Honor, bravery, sacrifice, patience, a sense of humour at the best and worst of times,  and the importance of family are things I learned from my Grandpa.

My second biggest influence on me as a kid was my father. Until I was about seven years old he was the  greatest guy I knew. I have really fantastic memories of my dad when I was little. He taught me to drive, to fish,  how to piss outside, build a fire, and roast a marshmallow. He taught me to drive a tractor. We watched Hockey Night in Canada together lying on the couch when I was still in footed pajamas. He taught me how to fly a kite, carve a pumpkin, and took me trick or treating in the snow. We used to walk together for hours in fallow summer fields looking for arrowheads. He taught me how to shoot a gun at the dump and how to find value in what other people would throw away...although I am pretty sure that is really a lesson passed down from my grandmother. My Dad was the greatest dad in the world when I was a little kid and it broke my heart to bits when he left.  Things haven't been the same without him. He did teach me how to make a little kid feel important.

One day maybe I'll be someone's dad and teach my kid some of the lessons I learned about family. Maybe if I am really lucky I'll get to be a grandpa too.

*The women in my life have taught me things as well but I'll post about those lessons later and how they differ from the lessons I have learned from men.

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