I want to go see Clint Eastwood's new movie, Gran Torino. I've seen several reviews, and it looks like it's right up my alley. I guess I can't "review" it myself until after I've seen the movie itself, but everything I read about it makes me nostalgic for a form of manhood that doesn't get much positive air-time anymore. When I was a kid, the perfect dad on TV was Cliff Huxtable. Yes, he was good-hearted and wise, but he was a wuss. His wife and kids ran all over him, and he was forevermore mucking up household projects. Somehow he was smart enough to be a successful Ob-Gyn, but he didn't have what it took to be a leader in his home. There were plenty of good things--he loved his wife and kids, he was honest, he was good. But as an example of manhood, well, he was no Clint Eastwood.
What does it say about our world that Eastwood is 78, and there's no Eastwood waiting in the wings? In Gran Torino, he teaches a fatherless boy the rules of life--among them, that half of all jobs can be done with WD-40, a set of vise-grips, and duct tape. Reminds me of my grandfather. Cliff Huxtable would have gotten the duct tape stuck to the vise-grips.
What are the lessons a father (or grandfather) should teach his boys? I was blessed growing up to have a dad who was a good example of a responsible provider and disciplinarian (my family didn't fall apart until I was out of the house), and also to live next door to my Granddaddy, who was the teacher of major life lessons... how to drive, how to shave, what was the business end of a screwdriver. I watched (and played) sports with dad, and took things apart (and sometimes even put them back together) with Granddaddy. Nobody in my house hunted, but we went fishing a little.
My boys are equally blessed. They have two living grandfathers, my dad, who is teaching the lesson of how to be a gamecock fan, and their Opa, who is the duct-tape guy. Then, as a bonus, they have Uncle Leroy, who is as close to the reincarnation of my Granddaddy as they are going to get (and that's about the highest compliment I can give anybody). I try very hard to be an example of what a man should be to my boys (and to my daughter, who needs to know how to pick a good one someday a LONG time from now). I pray I (we) are doing a good job, and that they will pass on those same lessons to my grandchildren. of course, by then, like the values Eastwood demonstrates in Gran Torino, those values may be as out-dated as a 1972 muscle car. But I call those "classics."