Those early years of life are so important because they set the pattern for the rest of it. The people who are in the early part of your life, who live in your earliest memories, hold sway over whatever happens thereafter.
If you’ve followed this space for a while, you’ve seen me write about my Grampa Sam. He lived right next door. You may have also seen me write about my Grandpa Byrd. In many ways they were opposites. Sam was laid-back. Byrd (this was his last name but even his wife called him Byrd) was fastidious and detail-oriented. Sam had been a sharecropper and oilfield day-laborer; Byrd had been a prison guard on the chain-gang and a carpenter — not totally unconnected professions.
For those of you who are familiar with Lonesome Dove, I might compare them to Gus and Captain Call, respectively. If you are not familiar with Lonesome Dove, I would suggest you find a few hours and repair that defect in your personal experience. Gus and Call each represent one dimension in the male personality. They are like spirit and flesh; faith and works. Neither can be whole without the other.
I was lucky to have two grandfathers who between them showed me the full dimensionality of what it is to be a man. What’s more, even though they were opposites, they liked each other. This is because they had a common enemy: Dad.
Between them, I can create the ideal Grampa. Grampa’s should know how to hunt and fish. They should be able to skin a squirrel and get out all of the bird shot so that you don’t find it during supper. Back in the day, they wouldn’t’ve had to use a shotgun, but your eyesight begins to fail as you age and you have to make accommodations.