Jennifer Campbell writes about men's special brand of kindness.
I am puzzled by the bad press that men seem to be getting. I listen to women complaining about the bad things men do, and wonder to myself, don't these women also notice the kindness of men? I can't believe that men have never been kind to them - maybe they just don't recognise the male way of kindness for what it is. One of my earliest memories is taking Grandad his lunch; a two-hour walk through the back hills to where he was working on the farm. He would share his lunch with me and talk from his heart. He was no new-age man - he was a "man's man" - but he made me feel so honoured; this wild Scotsman opening his heart to this little girl.
Grandad's brand of male kindness was typified by being taken out late at night to go flat-fishing. Grandma would be calling from the bedroom "you're not to take her Hector!" and Grandad would wink and motion to me to just "get your wellies on". Grandad showed me how to walk silently in the water with a spear and a torch, and be cold and wet knowing that I was safe with him and his cronies, that I would soon be warm and dry.
As I approached womanhood I remember Grandad telling me that I was growing into a beautiful and loving woman, and I wasn't embarrassed as most girls are, because I was so comfortable hearing him talk from the heart.
My father was forty when I was born and a wild man in his inner being. He rode his life fast and was not a "good husband" but he taught me a reverence for life in all its forms.
The spider, which I did not like, we had to collect safely and spend time finding a suitable home for it. If I kill a spider now, I always think of my father and apologise to him. The feeling of utter safety with us in a little boat on top of this great heaving, awesome ocean: "Look and feel the beauty of this Jenny". I did. Roaring around the city on his motorbike, the chrome tank warm on my legs, his arms protecting me (I thought). "Clifford!" Grandmother would say, "You're not to take Jenny on that bike again!". Waiting for that wink, I would look up as he responded "Yes Mum".
He would take me up in a little Cessna for fun - if I threw up he'd say OOPS! And make me laugh. He always made me feel special, it was as if he just couldn't have so much fun without me around.
My dad died recently. I wish him well and lots of fun. I always told him how much I loved him and how much he enriched my life as a young girl.
Grandad and my father were the first men in my life and they taught me what male kindness looks like, feels like, smells like. As a result, I have been able to recognise masculine kindness on the many occasions it has been extended to me during my life in several countries. Of course there have been unkind acts as well, but this hasn't prevented me from noticing that most men I come into contact with are very kind.
The paradox is that these men, who I am told are the dangerous sex, are the ones who allowed me to walk the line between safety and danger with them. Men seem to understand the value of feeling the fear and doing it anyway. To me this was the particularly masculine gift.
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