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Shannon Bardwell: God rest ye merry gentlemen


Shannon Bardwell



Phil Callaway announced his New Year's resolution, "I think I'll start out by going around the house tightening jars. That way my wife will need me all year." In a funny way, Phil wants to be needed. 


Know that I have not always been as sweet as I am now, and Phil's statement caused me to flash back to a time when Sam and I met. I saw Sam as a kayaking partner. Sam saw a lifetime commitment. 


One day I raged at him, pounded my chest and hollered, "I want to be the man!" I sounded like a feminist-Nazi woman gone berserk. He calmly complied without malice, "OK. You be the man." 


Since that day I have learned what it meant to be the man, and I decided that I did not want to be one. What I had seen by experience and observation and especially through the media was that men were the perpetrators, the leaders by hook or crook, the ones that came out on top, the winners; the fighters. 


At the same time men were the morally weak, the jerks, the doofuses of the family as portrayed in sitcoms and Congress. 


But those aren't "the men." In time I began to really observe men, the ones that are never mentioned in the media, the ones that are married to my friends, the men who come to church alone, the men who cut the widow's yard in the summer and bring her firewood in the winter, the man who after a long, hard day at work sits down on the sofa for a minute to catch the news and weather before starting another chore for the evening. 


The men, young and old alike, at the grocery store buying food for the family, sometimes with a child or two in tow; the man working two or three jobs to make it all work; the man who takes a lesser job to provide for the family and stay near home. 


There's a man in town, everyone knows him. He runs a large business, works lots of hours, is, in fact, almost never "off," and yet whenever I see that man he is never without his wife or at least one of his children. Some of his children work with him: It's a family business; he is a family man. He is a man. There are lots of them. 


At a Christmas open house I met Dr. Willard Boggan; he is 90-years-old and served as a naval doctor in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I listened with rapt admiration, but it was another lady who said, "Thank you, Sir, for your service to our country." He bowed his head and tears filled his eyes. 


I made it my 2012 resolution that next time that lady would be me. I resolved to appreciate a good man. We all need them ... for jar lids and otherwise.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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