The Men In My Life: My Grandfather

When I decided to write on this topic, I realized something: men have had far more influence in my life than women have (unless you count my four daughters). But maybe that’s to be expected: we form our identities partly by bouncing off of opposites: women/men, masculine/feminine, young/old, introvert/extrovert, and so on. It could be that our personalities are shaped by the tensions and conflicts in our lives more than by the relationships and events that go smoothly.

And what more basic opposing pair than men versus women? Don’t get me wrong: my mother influenced me more than I’d like to admit (as did our difficult relationship), but when I think of the people who have meant the most to me, it has been the men in my life.

You’d think that the first man I’d name would be my father, but the truth is, I loved my grandfather more than anyone else in the world until the day he died (and even for years afterwards). He died when I was 17 and I don’t think it’s an accident that I got married a scant three years later. I married my first husband partly because he was going to be a minister like my grandfather had been. I even thought it was a sign that we were supposed to get married because his youngest brother’s name was exactly the same as my grandfather’s: Daniel Bruce! [quote]

I was a quiet child and my grandfather was the only one who could draw me out. I also had self-esteem issues and my grandfather made me feel special. He encouraged my writing—he was the only one who did; when I was in grade school, he used to pay me one quarter for poems and two for stories.  He also answered all my questions about God and religion. He was a scholar, loved to read, had his doctorate of Divinity and knew several languages. When I was little I used to climb on the top of his rolltop desk and watch him write his sermons. I wanted to be just like him.

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