Like many men from the south, I have many memories of sitting with my grandfather and just trying to emulate the things he said and the way he said them. As I grew up he became the barometer of right and wrong. His life was the blue print on how to be a good man. Doing the right thing is often times the hardest thing to do, especially in your teens into your twenties.
So, there I was. The knowledge of how to decide the right decision but the patience of young and wild boy. There were many times that I wished only to know the need to follow instincts and gratifications but that was not the case. Oh to have a simple life that was fulfilling and without the complexities of things like consequences.
In this time I talked with my grandfather often. When he knew things were not the best he never asked. When it was time to tell me like it was, he did. Timing, the man had impeccable timing. Maybe the cashier at a little diner we would go to would be having a bad day:
"Your total is 19.46 sir."
Flashing his all knowing eyes and a little smirk, "Well, that was a great year!!!"
Or he would point to me and say something like, "He doesn't need anything. He ate yesterday." (I believed him a ton of times)
If a child was upset, he had this way of making this crazy loud noise with his knuckle or make a face and it was all better.
He always made me feel like it was all better.
In my mind, I had to be all of these things. I wanted to be them in that moment though. So I tried and have been trying since. Like many of my generation I wanted to skip the years of acquiring wisdom. The years of maybe reacting to harshly. Scolding a child when it was not necessary or not noticing how someone was feeling or needlessly arguing.
We talked about this when he was still alive. He always reassured me and just simply said to do the next right thing. That's pretty much where I am. Trying to do the next right thing. Often I do something like yell at a kid, my wife, my sister, react wrong, forget something important, etc. Although he was perfect in my eyes I console myself with the fact that at age 37 my grandfather was still acquiring the patience and ability to keep his voice down. I imagine him coaching teams and getting into a kid that throws his bat in disgust. It is funny to think about...
Back to me being 37, can I imagine 'ole Buddy Ford posting on a blog or sharing funny videos on FB? Better yet, can I imagine him promoting breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and doing dad classes?
Short answer, yes. I may never be half the man he was but sometimes doing the right thing is more complex than I thought. When you have that feeling in your gut. You know, that feeling when you just have to do something. That is it. He followed that feeling and so am I.
So, like many other Grandsons here in the south, I'll just keep on keepin' on and will be forever grateful to have the blueprint to being a good man.