With Father’s Day fast approaching I have to give homage to a man that had a profound effect on my life. Jessie Redden, the late patriarch of my mother’s family. My grandfather kind of acted like Ben Cartwright (from Bonanza, played by Lorne Greene), looked like a lighter Morgan Freeman, and talked like Melvin Van Peebles. When he laughed, the laughter always drifted up to his eyes and made him tear up with every chuckle.
What I adored about my grandfather was the way he led his family. He uplifted and molded us with his compassion and held firm on his beliefs and convictions. He never tolerated anyone disrespecting his wife, in word or deed, and that included his own children. He made sure his family followed his lead by respecting her even when they had their disagreements. He had seven children with my grandmother: Jessie Jr, Anthony, Flora, Gertrude (Teri), Sharon, Jennie, and Elsie. My maternal grandparents were married for 59 years and knew the meaning of love, romance and devotion. I’m so thankful for the roadmap they’ve laid and the wisdom they gave.
More times than I can even remember, my grandfather enjoyed talking about what matured a man. He thought the journey from boyhood to manhood was one that needed to be navigated carefully. And the journey could be made easier if a boy had a grown man to show him the way (i.e. his father, grandfather, uncle, pastor, etc.).
Nothing made my grandfather dislike a young man more than seeing him failed to have the maturity required to lead his own household. There was a certain mentality that required a man to be tempered in his words and adamant in his convictions, and my Grandfather knew how to spot it head on.
For my grandfather, grown men cared about:
Their Appearance: Clothes are well-fitted and possibly tailor-made. Personal grooming and cleanliness makes a man look smarter, sexier and edgy when they stand next to immature men. Nicely trimmed nails and hair, unless you’re bald, always catches a woman’s eye. Most importantly, correct posture is deemed as strong-willed and strong-minded. Grown men keep in mind the old saying, ‘Clothes don’t make the man, the man makes the clothes’.
Their Relationships: Whether it’s personal or professional, real men always respect the others involved. They are able to communicate effective without name-calling, profanity, arrogance, disrespect, and unnecessary loudness. My grandfather use to say, “A man doesn’t start out with his ass on his shoulders” meaning men state their position with dignity, not with whining and theatrics. They never want to appear to be a throwing a tantrum because something didn’t go their way.
Their Health: A focused man will stay on top of all of his health exams, practice good eating habits, and weekly exercise rituals that are vital to maintaining a good physique. They don’t wait for a doctor to tell them their body is starting to show the effects of too much partying or late night TV watching. Stop acting like a college kid and take better care of yourself.
Their Career: Regardless if employed by someone else or taking the entrepreneurial route, grown men know professionalism includes: meeting deadlines, producing high quality work, and always exceeding expectations.
Their Intelligence: Grown men enjoy learning and put one’s self in a position to continue to do. They build a substantial library of works that increase brain productivity and study other cultures as a means for global awareness.
Their Finances: Men know the importance and rewards of investing and saving, unlike boys that enjoy spending their money as soon as they get it. They do extensively research before purchasing large items and loved getting the most for their money. They learned long ago to stop playing around with their debts, they pay everything on time, and work hard to maintain an excellent credit history.
Their Life: Grown men take responsibility for their own actions. Abides by laws of their country and understand the importance of seeking a spiritual balance. They know mental strength is often more necessary then physical strength. And they know a real man will blaze his own path and be self-sufficient.
Their Woman: Grown men know women are the only ones that can teach them compassion, patience, and tenderness. Without women, men would think all pain is weakness, sexism is okay, and a tough guy attitudes will correct anything but that’s just NOT true. My grandfather once made a statement to one of my friends that he has never forgotten to this day. He said, ““Every time you choose to view porno, attend a strip club, pay for a prostitute, or in any other way, treat a woman like a piece of flesh rather than a person, you need to remember one thing: That girl is some man’s daughter.”
Men with daughters, sisters, nieces, and cousins will take a moment to contemplate those words. While real pieces of crap won’t think twice about the statement. I guess it all goes back to a man’s mentality, right?
(Sighs) I could talk about this man for days. I miss my Grandfather dearly. He put so many things into perspective for me. I think I'll always miss our long talks under his massive Weeping Willow tree on a nice Florida afternoons.
Rest In Peace, Grandpa and know I’ll always love you.
You’re gone… but never forgotten.
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