Words from Greg’s daughter, Sara

About “good men”

I want to share one of Dad’s emails and it requires a bit of context. I love his writing. His short, concise, journalistic sentences are full of imagery and opinion.

I’m one of the women whose career ambitions he championed.

We didn’t have very much to do with each other when I was little; I think it took a few years before he warmed up to being a father. But when I was a teenager, he brought home from work what must have been a review copy of Naomi Wolf’s first book, The Beauty Myth.

He just handed it to me, we never talked about it. The book is about media literacy from a feminist perspective, and it activated me. I’d been reading about third-wave feminism and other women’s journeys – out there in the world beyond my experience. That book made the culture-shift personal and began shaping my identity as a career-focused, self-determining woman in the world.

In my mid-20s Dad and I decided we should get to know each other and started meeting for lunch downtown every other week. He’d come in to the city early for his evening shift at the paper and meet me near my office. When I became self-employed, he’d come to my apartment and we’d have lunch in the Sylvia Hotel lounge. We sat at the table by the front window overlooking English Bay and agreed it was probably the best seat in the whole world, if you think about it. When I worked at UBC for a few years, his alma matter, we’d meet to watch basketball games: Women at 5:30 and Men at 7:30.

Our conversations were about what was going on in the world, in our careers, in my life of art and education, the family, basketball and filmmaking, and about feminism. He was as interested as I am in how women’s financial and psychological autonomy are changing the order of things.

At some point I took a photography class and was able to join his enthusiasm for photography and cameras. He was adamant that celluloid film was superior to new digital technology, and often pontificated on the downsides of digital photography – accidental erasure, dynamic latitude, inauthenticity of digital retouching, vulnerable archiving…

But because he was such a camera nut, he once admitted that if he were to purchase a digital camera, it would be a Nikon D80 DSLR…

The next time we met, he presented me with a Nikon D80 DSLR. He didn’t want to use it, but thought “Someone in the family should have one”.

Soon after that visit, I poured my heart out about a relation breakup and probably tiraded about the men I’d been dating, what I observed about men my age, and frustration with the whole ‘relationship thing’. We hadn’t ever talked about my personal life before, but Dad didn’t blink. He jumped right in with ideas about how feminism and the changing economy affected men and heterosexual relationships, and shared thoughts about “what’s up with men these days.”

It was a revelation. Until that point, we’d talked about women’s experiences, but suddenly I had access to the other side of the story. From then on, right until he left, most of our conversations began with “Here’s what I saw/read/experienced about men/women … what’s going on there?” It was our favourite thing to chew on.

The morning after our first “relationship” talk, Dad sent this email.

From: “Greg McIntyre”
Subject: Wow!
Date: February 1, 2008 2:23:21 PM PST (CA)

I obviously gave my dream digital camera to the right person.

Nice work!

I’ve been thinking more about what jerks males are.

I couldn’t think of any good men, apart from Eduardo [my sister’s husband], when we had lunch.

But today I know another one, Neville Judd, an English guy I work with who lives at Roberts Creek and stays in town and goes home on the weekend.

He has a lovely interesting wife who I’ve never met and delightful young kids, a girl and a boy.

And putting him and Eduardo together, I’m getting an idea of what you should look for in a man.

A man should be devoted to his family. Eduardo is in love with his mother and feels happy being around his family and relatives.

I can see that in Neville too. He calls home every night and asks his kids what they did that day and says good night and says he loves them. And he talks warmly with his wife and goes out of his way to take care of relatives that visit and stuff like that.

I think men like Eduardo and Neville go beyond just showing up. They sniff out how others are doing and make their lives better.

Another thing a man must have is a level of sophistication that informs him about what’s needed in a social situation.

A man can be loving and social but if he’s also negative and stupid, his influence and company can result in more harm than good.

A man must have good manners and understand that the purpose of manners is to put others at ease.

Granny Pat would tell the story about the Queen (who, of course, had perfect manners) who would break the rules when necessary to make some less fortunate soul feel accepted and valued. She would eat with the wrong fork or something if her ignorant guest had done that, to show that their behaviour was fine with the Queen.

At Uncle Bus’s funeral, I thought Carol said it beautifully when she said that even if you showed up late, Uncle Bus would make you feel as though the party hadn’t started until you got there. She would always love him for that.

I always thought Lawrence Pillon was that kind of a guy. Somehow his kindness and strong heart would be bigger than any crappy, dysfunctional situation he ever found himself in.

He was a sophisticated guy (Neville and Eduardo are too.) His friends made fun of him at his wedding about him always wanting to read the New York Times, even when they were on vacation at some lake out in the middle of nowhere.

A man of character doesn’t make excuses and blame others about things he doesn’t like. Successful people take responsibility for what’s going on around them.

And maybe most importantly, a man must cherish the difference between the sexes and enjoy and appreciate that fact that he is never going to understand the way his partner experiences the world.

He has to understand that humans do not know it all and have to approach things like God, death and love with respect.

Anyway, I’ll probably babble on about this more at our get-togethers.

Enjoy the camera. Don’t take it too seriously. I saw Richard Avedon on Charlie Rose and he said he was full of fear sometimes going in to a photo shoot, afraid he might not be able to pull off the high-class pictures he was famous for.

We’re not professional photographers. We don’t have to give a shit about what anyone thinks about our pictures.


Photo taken by Sara with the Nikon D80.