A strong man

My grandfather, Ralph, on the right of this picture, was the kindest, most loving, most generous man I have ever known.  He was strong and confident and achieved so much in his life as a Royal Air Force physical training instructor and, later, as a coach to the British and Jamaican wheelchair basketball teams.  He coached them to success in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games and garnered respect from the sporting world.  He also received a British Empire Medal for service to sport.

Whilst I am obviously tremendously proud of his professional success and love telling his stories, my pride and gratitude comes mostly from the kind of man he was and the things he taught me.  He showered us with endless, unconditional love and, right up until he passed away, on September 18th last year, he was affectionate, tender, witty and kind.  He loved his family above all else.

I’ll never forget how blessed I was to have his influence in my life for so long.

Tonight, I have been thinking about him partly because I have been listening to a lot of rhetoric about the U.S. election and about Donald Trump.  It may seem like a strange link, but allow me to explain.  Discussions about men and women, sexuality, values, power and education are rife, along with allegations of sexual assault and the uncovering of male views that are entitled and misogynistic.

It is a time of soul searching, not just for Americans but for everyone.

I have also been watching the way that Barack Obama has had to accept the results of the election and make speeches with the future of the country in mind.

It takes a tremendously strong man to be classy, calm and gracious in difficult circumstances.

I saw my grandad exhibit these characteristics throughout his life and, whilst on the surface non-reaction may look like weakness, it takes courage and wisdom to know when to bite your tongue and take the higher ground.

It is easy to lash out in anger.  To resort to name-calling, bitterness and hatred.

It is much harder to remain still, to allow nastiness to come your way without rising to it.

The older I get, the more deeply I realise that true strength is silence.  Calmness.  Grace.  Kindness.  Tenderness.  Humour.  Patience.  Acceptance.  Gratitude.  Love.

My grandad embodied all of those qualities, and I was so lucky to have his love and guidance until I was almost thirty years old.

On a public level, when I see classy, gracious men such as Barack Obama, it makes my heart glad.

We need as many positive role models in the world for our children as possible.

The young boys and girls that I teach need to know that they are valued and worthy, and that they deserve to be treated with respect.  They need to know that a loud voice isn’t necessarily a wise voice.  And that standing up for yourself isn’t about hitting back harder.  

Wherever you are, try to be that example.  

As Maya Angelou said, “Each of us, famous or infamous, is a role model for somebody, and if we aren’t, we should behave as though we are–cheerful, kind, loving, courteous.  Because you can be sure someone is watching and taking deliberate and diligent notes.”

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36 thoughts on “A strong man

  1. Yes, that Higher power is all knowing also. You were fortunate to have an amazing man in your life. I wish that many women could so that they wouldn’t be so afraid of the future. There are many, many good people..and men out there.

    1. I agree, Kate. There are so many. It’s just that, usually, the more crude and violent voices shout the loudest. I wish every child could have a positive influence, male and female. I know how lucky I was to have my grandfather, but I also know how many wonderful men there are out there. Thanks for reading!

  2. A kind and loving post full of optimism. Thanks for following this blog, Louise, however I won’t be posting her anymore as I have migrated to a different blog called Wuthering Bites. Perhaps I’ll see you there.

    1. Hi Susanne! Thank you for the compliments about this post, and for letting me know about your new blog. I will definitely see you there!

    1. He was the best. It makes me happy to know that at least some of his life has been shared with other people. 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting!

    1. Thank you so much for reading, Brenda. As Joni Mitchell said, we don’t know what we’ve got ’til it’s gone! Obama will be missed. Calm is the perfect word for him. I love listening to him speak.

  3. You are a beautiful writer! I loved reading this and I agree, we need inspirational positive role models and how amazing is it that you can say that your own family member is someone of that role. I bet your grandfather would be filled with joy reading this post!

    xo, JJ

    1. Thank you so much–what a lovely, heartwarming comment to read! I hope you have a wonderful day and I really appreciate your visiting. 🙂

  4. Hello,
    Pleasure to meet you and thank you for visiting my blog page and having a follow, I appreciate the support and hope that my blog will provide some interesting topics. I look forward to reading more post from you.

    Shay-lon

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