Celebrating the Man Who Showed Me What It Means to Be a Man

 

My dad died Thursday. That’s a sentence I’ve been thinking through over the last couple weeks, but I’ve never wanted to say.

Just under a month ago when they took him to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms, that was bad enough. It got worse when we found out that it was a brain tumor. We thought we could fight it at first. Yeah, it would be hard, but we could do it. But as time progressed and complications amassed, it came to the point where treatment options fell off the table one by one, and all we were left with was palliative care. But even through that, dad was still himself. Sure, the tumor caused him to lose the use of the left side of his body, but he didn’t lose his personality.

After he had been airlifted from West Palm Beach to Halifax1, his first request was for a bucket of KFC. And even on his last full night, he got my sister to pick up an appetizer platter from Boston Pizza2. He was still telling jokes to us and laughing at every one we told him. He was thanking the doctors and nursing staff at every chance he could get, even to the point of sending my mom to pick up pizza for the nurses. And he took every available opportunity to lean in for a kiss (or six) from my mom.

Long story short: He was still my dad. And I miss him already.

But as I’ve seen this dreaded day drawing closer, it’s brought me to think. We’ve seen various groups decrying “toxic masculinity” over the last few days, first from the new APA guidelines for counseling men and boys, and then from the most recent Gillette commercial. I’m not going to complain about those things because I know that would only serve to add fuel to an already raging cultural dumpster fire. The thing that I feel is often missing from this discussion is not the admission that masculinity can be toxic, but rather the discussion of how true masculinity can be curative.

In my dad, there was, at times, a mixture of both, just as Martin Luther wrote that Christians are simul justus et peccator – at the same time righteous and sinner. He never committed any of the worst atrocities associated with toxic masculinity, but at the same time, I’m sure he was “traditionally masculine” enough to be considered problematic by some.

He had a big, booming voice, and would use it liberally when his anger bubbled up. In his anger, he would at times deliver ultimatums that were not negotiable. If you got on his bad side, it was tough to get back. He could be stubborn, pig-headed, and firmly set in his ways. And at times he exemplified some of the “harmful” aspects of masculinity that the APA outlined in their document — “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression.”

But my dad was so much more than that. Through his relationship with my mom, he taught me that men and women are different but equal. He loved mom with every fiber of his being, and he respected her just as much. While they shared the load in the home, there was a clear division of labor between my parents in many areas, most of which fall into the category of “traditional gender roles.” But he never thought less of her for it – they were equal partners in their marriage, and each did their part for the good of the whole. Together they modeled for me what it means to be faithful in marriage, and especially why our vows include “in sickness and health, for better or for worse, forsaking all others, until death do us part.” He showed me what it means to be faithful to the very end.

And while he could be tough at times, he was also capable of being tender. His manner with kids, whether in his dental practice or with my darling little niece, was a sight to behold. He loved children and the joy they bring to the world around them. And he had a laugh that could bring joy to the heart of everyone around him – if his jokes didn’t do it first.

He taught me the value of working through pain. He taught me to take responsibility for my actions. He taught me to consider the needs of others before my own. He taught me as many things as he could from all the things he knew – from how to change a tire, to how to use a table saw, to how to grill a burger. (And so many things in between!) Most importantly, he taught me right from wrong, and he taught me to love Jesus.

He was my staunchest defender, my most vocal ally, and my wisest sounding board. He did everything he could to prepare me for the world and help me avoid the mistakes that he had made over the years.

In his final days, he would keep telling me two things: that he loved me, and that he was proud of me. It’s almost as if he was making sure that the last words I would hear from him were those words of affirmation. But there was one thing that he got wrong. He said that he’s proud of the man that I’ve become in spite of him. But that is not the case.

I am who I am precisely because of my dad. He was not a perfect man, but he was a real man. The kind of man that our world needs more of. The kind of father that our society needs more of.

I love you, dad. And I miss you. But I’ll never forget you, and I will always strive to live up to your example of what a man should be.


1 My parents had been intending to spend the winter down in Florida.

2 Boston Pizza is a Canadian restaurant chain, for those who have not seen it before.

There are 27 comments.

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  1. JudithannCampbell Inactive
    JudithannCampbell
    @JudithannCampbell

    I am so sorry about the loss of your Dad, this is a beautiful tribute, thank you for sharing him with us.

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    I know this is hard for you and your family. May all of you be blessed.

    • #2
  3. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Well done. Your dad did a fine job.

    God’s grace and peace for your family.

    • #3
  4. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat
    @GossamerCat

    My sincere condolences for your loss. I lost my father 5 years ago next week and I miss him every day.  And it was because of the man he was and how he treated those around him that the APA and the Gillette ad are so jarring.  My experience of traditional masculinity, through the actions of the men I have known and loved, has always been positive-a force for good.  I can picture your father from your description and I know that he is of that cloth. 

    • #4
  5. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    May his name be a blessing for you.

    • #5
  6. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    So sorry for your loss. His legacy lives on. 

    • #6
  7. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    I’d say he did a pretty good job raising you.

    • #7
  8. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Condolences on your loss.

    • #8
  9. Old Buckeye Inactive
    Old Buckeye
    @OldBuckeye

    Thank you for sharing your dad with us. Sounds like he fulfilled his mission on earth very successfully.

    • #9
  10. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    I lost my dad 45 years ago next month and I miss him every day. Everything you said about your dad I have said about mine. He was wonderful as was yours. We won the Dad Lottery. Dads can’t live forever but can live on in our memories and our children’s memories. It’s life’s cycle. You did a wonderful job of letting us know a really good man. Thanks.

    • #10
  11. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Memory eternal.

    I lost my dad last year, so I can relate. I used to call him every Saturday morning for nearly 20 years.  As I still do at least once a month, I picked up the phone this morning from habit, ready to make a call I suddenly realized could not be completed.

    • #11
  12. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Memory eternal.

    I lost my dad last year, so I can relate. I used to call him every Saturday morning for nearly 20 years. As I still do at least once a month, I picked up the phone this morning from habit, ready to make a call I suddenly realized could not be completed.

    That would truly be a long distance call.

    • #12
  13. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Memory eternal.

    I lost my dad last year, so I can relate. I used to call him every Saturday morning for nearly 20 years. As I still do at least once a month, I picked up the phone this morning from habit, ready to make a call I suddenly realized could not be completed.

    That would truly be a long distance call.

    From Texas? Heaven is a local call.

    • #13
  14. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    I am so sorry for your loss.  You’ll miss him every day forever.  Time will dull the ache, but it will never go away (11 years for me).  But what a gift he gave you, and I can see from your post that you returned the gift in full.  Thank you for a beautiful tribute.

    P.S. This part:

    He had a big, booming voice, and would use it liberally when his anger bubbled up. In his anger, he would at times deliver ultimatums that were not negotiable. If you got on his bad side, it was tough to get back. He could be stubborn, pig headed, and firmly set in his ways. And at times he exemplified some of the “harmful” aspects of masculinity that the APA outlined in their document – “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression.”

    might have been written about my dad too.  Perfect.

    • #14
  15. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    She (View Comment):

    I am so sorry for your loss. You’ll miss him every day forever. Time will dull the ache, but it will never go away (11 years for me). But what a gift he gave you, and I can see from your post that you returned the gift in full. Thank you for a beautiful tribute.

    P.S. This part:

    He had a big, booming voice, and would use it liberally when his anger bubbled up. In his anger, he would at times deliver ultimatums that were not negotiable. If you got on his bad side, it was tough to get back. He could be stubborn, pig headed, and firmly set in his ways. And at times he exemplified some of the “harmful” aspects of masculinity that the APA outlined in their document – “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression.”

    might have been written about my dad too. Perfect.

    Yeah, but your dad was Gagara Yasin.

    (That is still one of my favorite things that I’ve read on Ricochet.)

    • #15
  16. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    She (View Comment):
    might have been written about my dad too. Perfect.

    Have you followed up on those stories about your dad @she, and had them published?

    • #16
  17. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    might have been written about my dad too. Perfect.

    Have you followed up on those stories about your dad, She, and had them published?

    Thanks for asking.  My sister and I have made some progress.  Hopeful.  I’ll let you know.

    • #17
  18. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Memory eternal.

    I lost my dad last year, so I can relate. I used to call him every Saturday morning for nearly 20 years. As I still do at least once a month, I picked up the phone this morning from habit, ready to make a call I suddenly realized could not be completed.

    That would truly be a long distance call.

    From Texas? Heaven is a local call.

    I thought that was West Virginia, guess it’s just almost Heaven.

    • #18
  19. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    She (View Comment):

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    might have been written about my dad too. Perfect.

    Have you followed up on those stories about your dad, She, and had them published?

    Thanks for asking. My sister and I have made some progress. Hopeful. I’ll let you know.

    I don’t care what the popular mode is, if they get published I’ll buy, and think about half of Ricochet members will as well.

    • #19
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. And I can tell from what you wrote about him, why he was so proud of you. It’s clear you loved him very much. Thanks for sharing him with us.

    • #20
  21. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia
    @Ansonia

    I am so sorry for your loss.

    Thank you for writing this. It so beautifully reveals why the “toxic masculinity” propaganda and con makes me so angry.

    Masculinity is toxic when the power of masculinity is abused. Femininity is toxic when the power of femininity is abused. There is no more an abuse of masculine power than there is an abuse of feminine power. And masculine power isn’t stronger, or more often abused, than feminine power is.

    • #21
  22. AQ Member
    AQ
    @AQ

    My dad died 50 years ago.  Your beautiful tribute to your father brings my dad back to me.  I am so sorry for your grief, which must be unbearable now.  

    • #22
  23. Sheila Johnson Member
    Sheila Johnson
    @SheilaJohnson

    Thank you, thank you for sharing your father with us.  A father to greatly appreciate, which you obviously do.  

    • #23
  24. Shauna Hunt Inactive
    Shauna Hunt
    @ShaunaHunt

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Condolences to you and your family.

    • #24
  25. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    I had some tears welling up in my eyes as I read your reverent tribute to your father.  He reminded me of my own father whom I lost seven years ago.  Thank goodness for people like that!   All the best to you, Chriszakastan, and to your mother as well.

    • #25
  26. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Wonderful tribute to your father. Mine has been gone for 39 years and I still miss him.

    • #26
  27. Chris Hutchinson Coolidge
    Chris Hutchinson
    @chrishutch13

    That was beautiful and quite moving. I am so very sorry for your loss. I pray your sister and you have the strength to support your mom while at the same time dealing with your own grief.

    • #27

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