What is a real man? As a little girl I remember thinking that a real man was one who always had dirt under his fingernails. As I grew older, I learned why that was so. All my perceptions of what a real man was, was shaped by my father, and he set the bar high.
A real man takes care of his family. Daddy was a worker. He had to drop out of school to get a job to care for his brother and sisters. I remember him working evenings out in the garage, fixing cars or farm equipment to earn extra money. Even after working all day a Kelly Field. He didn’t just make sure we had a roof over our head or food on the table, he kept us safe as well. I was always confident that if anyone tried to harm us Daddy would take care of them.
A real man builds things, and fixes things. I remember only one time that Daddy ever called a repair man. It was to fix a TV and though it was too long ago to remember why, I imaging it was because he couldn’t get the parts to do it himself. Wiring, plumbing, inside, or out Daddy could fix it. He could diagnose a broken car just by listening to it. The bigger the engine, the better he liked it. I remember him working on an engine that was so big, I could crawl inside the piston cylinder. From sheds to adding a room on the house, Daddy was the DIY master. He could calculate how many yards of concrete it took to pour a slab, and how many 2X4’s it took to frame a building. And he did this without a computer, or algebra, or a high school diploma.
A real man has a code. It is an unwritten code. A real man doesn’t have his code outlined on the refrigerator or mounted on cutesy word art. A real man lives his code and teaches it by example. Always return something you borrow in better condition that you found it. Avoid the slavery of debt. Daddy rarely cussed. When he did, you’d better run. Daddy never came home drunk, or raised a hand to Momma, and he made sure we knew he didn’t think highly of men who did. He would go out of his way to help a friend or a family member. Everyone knew he was a man you could count on.
I could go on and on about how Daddy shaped my character, by being a man of character himself, and never come close to finishing. Good men, real men, do much to shape the lives of their sons, but they do just as much to shape the lives of their daughters as well.