There is a curious trend in my social life lately: the appearance of older men.
I don’t mean in a romantic sense, but supportive, creative, interesting, helpful people, who happen to be men, who happen to fall logically into a model of fatherly or grandfatherly figures.
As for my own father, we haven’t spoken in months. But boundaries, parents, duty, love, and obligation can be another blog… or several.
Yet, in the absence (of my own making or not) of an actual non-judgmental shoulder-to-lean on with wise, bolstering words to live by with stories of travel and far-flung adventure from times of yore father, I find myself being buoyed by just the type of love and support I’ve been missing.
Recently, I helped my 90-year old friend clear out decades of junk from his house and put it up on a craigslist ad. While I sorted his old china and hauled pieces of moldy ikea furniture to the curb, he stood in the near-autumn sun, white-haired and tanned from his daily sun lamp, and told me about the time he and his wife were picked up by the police in the Ukraine, behind the Iron Curtain, in the 70s. How a gorgeous Russian woman waltzed into the scene and argued for their release, so that they were then driven, inexplicably, right to the airport they’d been seeking.
He told me how he met his wife over a piano playing Chopin in Berkeley, their subsequent whirlwind courtship leading to a honeymoon trip to a Warsaw house concert in Chopin’s own living room.
My grandparents all passed before I got the chance to learn their stories. To learn and ask how they met, what it felt like to be a child then, how the world worked before me and this and us. I feel I’ve collected a friend who can connect me to that wisdom and joy and near-forgotten universe a grandparent can give.
The neat thing to me about gathering these new friendships in adulthood is that they’re…unadulterated…by familial angst and don’t depend upon one person to give me all that I need. I get to have the love without the drama, the support without the strings, and I feel like I get to give them something they might have been missing, too.