“On behalf of every man, looking out for every girl, you are the God and the weight of her world”John Meyer – Daughters
This week I am writing for the important men, who are raising strong, independent capable women. To get to #equity, we have to celebrate what both genders bring to the table, and it starts by raising our next generation.
This post is both a celebration, and thanksgiving to them, through the stories of my three amazing grandfathers. Who, without them, I would not have learned how to be loved and how to be authentically me.
For all you dads and grandads, you are vitally important to your girls and equally important in raising your boys, who need equal strength and heart.
Please like, share and comment with your thoughts and perhaps stories. Spread the word and help me grow this blog. My aspiration is to make a positive impact, in this all too negative world.
Thank you all for continuing this journey with me…now onto the story..
Filling the gap…
My dad left when I was 7 months in the making. Leaving my mum with a toddler, a baby on the way and a bunch of unpaid bills. This sounds a bit like the making of a Dickens novel, especially given we were in London at the time, and scraping by.
To further the “Dickenesque” backdrop, mum was working full time, trying to hide her pregnancy, and worked up until a week before I came along. This was against protocol and I think the law at the time 🤦♀️, however, she had to pay the bills. Although this is not a Dickens tale, it does have some of the elements of the heartache, and the joy, his stories are so well known for.
This week is in celebration of my three grandfathers that filled the void left by my dad. They taught me courage, bravery, resilience, love, independence and a host of other magnificent things.
Each were different, and yet the same when it came to their capacity for loving fiercely when needed, strength when required and a listening ear when I had what seemed like unending tears.
The Power of Three and Crossing the Pond
I was blessed to have three (3) grandads. One (1) in the US and two (2) on the UK.
Grandpa Jim, Welcome to the USA
Grandpa Jim was in the US and the grandad I spend the most time with after we moved to the states.
In his youth he contracted polio and had what they called a weak arm. It was thin and looked odd. However, that did not hold him back from anything, other than being in the military for World War II. He was a strong and proud man, faithful to family and God.
He had endless patience, worked hard on the small farm my grandparents had, spent hours answering my questions, let me ride on the tractor, as he plowed the fields and every spring I watched him plant a flower garden just for my grandmother. It had all her favorite flowers, like gladiolas, roses, wild flowers etc…
I saw the amount of love he poured into that garden, always planting it first thing each season, and then the small smile he had when she cut them to arrange a vase.
He taught me how to fix things, work hard mentally and physically, face my fears and also stand strong against being endlessly and mercifully teased by my brother.
He also taught me to love unreservedly, don’t let your circumstances define you and to find the best in others.
With every crisis, he was unflappable. One Easter, as we stood outside in our best Easter finery, taking pictures, I noticed grandpa’s pitch fork placed in the ground. He had been working on eradicating a woodchuck, I think, out in the yard.
I wanted to be his big girl, and I pulled up that pitchfork, out of the ground, and put it back in the ground like I saw him do endless times. While no one seemed to be paying attention to me, I proceeded to put it through my beautiful new patent leather Mary Janes, that happened to house my foot. 🤦♀️
With the strength I shouldn’t have had at around 8 years old, I then pulled it back out and stood stunned with everyone else. Well except Grandpa Jim, who looked at me, unphased and called me a “damn fool”. He proceeded to pick me up, walk to the car, place me in, and off to the ER we went, once everyone else came out of their shock and got into the Rambler.
He never yelled at me, he never made me feel awful, he focused only on my learning. I have so many wonderful stories of situations that should have sent him into an irate state, but he just patiently and steadily stepped in and helped solve the problem.
He taught me patience, courage, kindness, resilience and how a man, who loves a woman, plants a flower garden for her, just for the reward of her smile.
He was and still is a superhero to me. 🦸♂️
Crossing the pond – Grandpa Norman
My two (2) grandfathers, across the pond, could not have been more different. I will start with my mum’s dad, Grandpa Norman.
To say this man was larger than life, is a complete and utter diminishment of his big heart and personality. He never met a stranger, lived completely in joy and we were instantly thick as thieves.
He encouraged my sense of adventure, he surrounded me with genuine interest in what I was doing, he shared lots of stories on how things worked, and he also taught me to live in the moment, while being mindful of the future. To him a life without humor, was a life wasted to dull, uninteresting and useless existence.
He had tons of friends, we would go to lots of parties and we would sit for hours talking about all sorts of things. He built unending imaginary worlds with me and he showered me with attention. To me he was a rockstar, and yes, absolutely larger than life.
He was also a very distinguished, proper and successful English business man. Which was such a duality in his refinement and yet boundary pushing to not exactly follow the rules of etiquette, when adventure was a foot.
He was passionate about golf and would bring us round the golf course for lunch and allow us to sit in the bar and play the slot machines. This was completely untoward you see, but he knew how my brother and I loved to play, and so he would stand look-out while Uncle Iva, who owned the club, was off at lunch. He was a man of harmless mischief. I learned that you could stretch the boundaries, innocently, when things were overly stodgy.
He also shared many lessons with me as I played caddie for him when I was old enough.
In addition to teaching me proper etiquette, when mum was around 😉, he also taught me to love life with abandon and to find humor in the world around you. To push boundaries, to not settle when it came to what I wanted and to believe in myself.
He also taught me patience, creativity, love and laughter. I also learned that a man should have a sense of humor and bring a smile to everyone by not taking themselves so bloody seriously! 😄
I have so many wonderful stories of my time spent with him, ones that I cherish dearly today. He was a strong, capable, loving man with a wicked wit and endless joy.
He was and is my endless superhero 🦸♂️ .
Grandpa John was a lot like Grandpa Jim, in manner and style. He was a quiet, endlessly patient and a kind man. He was so doting on my Nana that it was like watching an endless love affair that you saw in the movies.
He was gentle, compassionate and abundantly caring. He also was strong and faithful, open to exploration and unwaveringly supportive of whatever we wanted to do. He was a spiritualist, and believed that there was life beyond our knowing, and spirits could get trapped. He was also a fatalist, so everything was as it should be.
He was a great teacher on how to be kind to animals, as Nana and Grandpa John took in all sorts of stray cats. They lived in Cornwall, upon the Bodmin Moors, in the village of Warleggan. We were nearly convinced there was a special sign that cats could see, that said “inn this way”!😂
This peaceful and beautiful countryside was a kids paradise of adventure and learning. Grandpa John spent countless hours with us as we ran around the countryside and he told us stories of the village and it’s history.
One of the local events we went to one year, was a charity pig roast. At the event there was a shotgun shooting contest and my brother and I wanted to collect the spent cartridges (disclaimer: we were not allowed to shoot, and were kept a great distance away) After 2 or 3 garbage bags of them, Grandpa John didn’t protest when we had to fit them in the car that clearly wouldn’t fit us and the shells. Somehow he did it, and away we went back to the cottage with our stash of shells he knew would never make it back across the pond. He didn’t protest, he didn’t complain, he just wanted us to be happy. The shells were abandoned the next day, in the shed and never a complaint was lodged.
Grandpa John was also an amazing cook. I spend hours under foot in the kitchen learning all I could. From his magnificent Sunday roast, to his incredible peach pie with custard, I learned the joy of cooking in a way of serving others. I also learned that it wasn’t just women’s work, it was the work of love and capability. You see my Nana never learned to cook.
He had endless patience as he taught me and he had me join in to learn from experience.
He taught me what selfless love was, how to be gentle and caring and also to teach others with endless patience. He taught me to love all of Gods creatures and a sense of duty to give back. He also showed me what a man looks like when they are passionately in love with their soulmate. I will never forget the love in his voice when he called my Nana “pet” and the deep warmth it conveyed.
He also will always be a superhero to me. 🦸♂️
To all you dads …
Although my dad chose not to stay, and that did have an impact on me, which is a story for another day, I have to say how grateful I am for my three (3) grandfathers.
They stepped into the void and ensured I felt a fathers love in a way that would shape the kind of man I would fall in love with and what I would expect from the person I wanted to share my life with.
Dads are so incredibly important to girls. You shape our view of the world, you teach us to be strong, you show us how to be loved, you share in our tears and you ride the rollercoaster of our emotions, even though it leaves you frustrated and frightened as to what to do 😂😂.
There were times, during my coming of age, that I was an all out horrendous BRAT. My grandfathers never reacted with anything other than clarity in their role and the expectations they had about what would and would not be allowed.
Because of the deep respect I had for them, I would feel regret in disappointing them, and that was a lesson in itself.
Dads and grandads play a vital role in developing strong capable women. Whether a dad or a granddad, girls look to you to learn how to be strong and how to love.
I can’t put in words how exceedingly grateful I am for my three granddads. Although I felt a gap in not having a dad, I never felt unloved or unsupported and I learned how men should be strong, not only in physical strength but in the strength of character and their ability to love. They all had the strength and hearts of lions.
To the dads and grandads out there, love fiercely, teach strength and show your daughters that they can do anything. And for your boys, teach them that it takes both strength and heart to capture the love of a woman.