The 4 most important men in my life have been my two grandfathers, my Dad and my husband. I’ve been lucky enough to have and know many amazing men. Great friends, great mentors, great people. But there is no doubt who is in the top 4. My parents were VERY young when they had me. And they were both the oldest child in their families so in turn I had very young grandparents. Like they were in their early 40’s when I was born. And I grew up just a few miles from both sets of grandparents so I saw them A LOT. I was lucky. Very lucky.
My Mom’s Dad taught me to fish at this lakehouse. He taught me how to work a trolling motor on a small boat. He taught me the difference in types of fish. He taught me that Jesus loves everyone the same and we are NOT to judge or ask questions we are just to give, and love, unconditionally. And he did. He was a preacher. He was a flirt. He would’ve given the shirt off of his back to anyone, anywhere, who needed it. And not asked questions. The ladies loved him. He was very charming and NEVER strayed from my Granny. He loved her. A lot! He worked a blue collar job his entire life and his hands were always dirty and I loved that. He was hilariously funny and sarcastic (surprise surprise) and that humor stayed with him through a decades long battle with Parkinsons. You’d be sure he was gone, mind lost to a place we would never see him again and then WHAMO- he’d make some crazy funny joke about our family and you’d know there was still a flickering of Grandad in there. His birth certificate simply had his name listed as L.D. Cannon. He never knew (or never told us) what the L.D. stood for. He stood by the name of “Little Darlin’” and we just accepted that. Parkinsons took him a few years ago. I miss him.
My Dad’s Dad (Pawpa) was a retired Navy air traffic controller. He served in World war 2. He was strict. He said “affirmative” and “negative” instead of yes and no. He gave directions as west, north, east, rather than right and left. He was very smart. He had a college degree from University of North Texas. He was loyal to his family and a serious rule follower. And he had his “chair”. You did NOT sit in his chair. And that’s the dude most people knew. I knew a man who played horsey and bounced me on his leg until I was WAY to big to be doing that. I knew a man who told fun stories about his childhood. I knew a man who adored my Dad and loved his wife and his grandchildren with all of his heart. I knew a man who let me sneak extra cookies when Nanny told me no. I knew a man who encouraged my Mom and I to get a degree because “women should”. I knew a man who let me drive his motor boat on Lake Dallas when my parents didn’t know. I knew a man who let me sit in his chair and never missed a football game I cheered at and videoed all of my performances. He used to call me often. I miss that. Cancer took him a decade ago.
I think I’ve written about my Dad so often you already know why I adored hm. Why he was IT! The standard by which I based all other men off of. He used to call me a lot. He used to be the 1st one to call me early on my Birthday. He taught me to love music. I miss him.
Papa died first, then my Dad, then my Grandad. All within a few years of each other. When Pawpa died my heart ached for Nanny but I watched a strength in her. And never a complaint- always saying you should look back on beautiful memories and be grateful. I watched my Mom widowed at 53. That just sucked. It was shitty. But I watched that lady, who I already knew was tough, keep her shit together. Continue on. Make big financial decisions alone. And go on. And smile again. Grandad died a few years ago. Fucking Parkinsons. I hate that crap. He wasn’t the same man that last 2 years that I grew up with. I choose to remember the strong man on the dock….fishing. And Granny remains strong. All of those women. All of those STRONG women left behind.
And so as these men left my life, 1 by 1, I was grateful to have a good husband. He’s smart, funny, cute, great with money (thank God) and I kinda like him. So when brain rot struck- and it struck hard in 2012- I spent a few minutes asking “good God why me?” “Why us?”. Its such bullshit that all of the men in my life get sick, or die. Im beyond that whole phase of trying to understand why. And I’ve come to find that there is a circle of women, generations deep, that I come from, that are beyond strong. I have had the privilege of watching them survive. Of watching them hold families together. Of watching them navigate an unfamiliar life, without a partner. I have seen a strength I cannot describe. And now when I see other couples….older or younger…and the woman seems so dependent on the man it makes me think. I have felt sad that my Mom wont have a 50th wedding anniversary. I have felt sad about a lot of things. And I’ve wondered why we, these women, this family, doesn’t get to lean on an older husband as they walk with a cane. Why they don’t get to complain that their husband’s don’t “do enough” around the house. That mowing the yard and changing light bulbs and balancing checking accounts and taking care of kids and whatever….is all left to them. There’s no other option.
And I am grateful to come from strong women. I am so crazy grateful to be THAT woman. And I hope and pray I raise one too. And a year ago at Beachbody Summit I told myself I wanted to NOT sit in the nosebleeds next time. I wanted to be down “THERE”. Near the stage. And in 2 days I will be WALKING across that stage. Thanks to a lot of people, friends and support. And walking with me wont just be the strong men who aren’t here anymore. It will be the strong women who taught me how to walk alone.