L to R: My paternal grampa, his sister and his twin brother (early '30s).
My grandfather would've turned 90 this week, and his twin brother died just last week. They were regular, steady influences on my development as a boy. I had several uncles. It isn't just having a dad that helps a boy (it's a start), but, a healthy development can involve multiple men to prevent a boy from basing everything he views as what a man is to be off of one man (or no man). My grandfather and my dad were very different. As I grew up, my grampa and I figured out we were more alike than my dad was to either of us, and it was a nice inside joke between us. Part of why we were alike was genetics, and part of it was that I respected how solid and strong he was in messed up situations. He was a rock. He was also a big jerk with a heart of a semi-precious metal, who wouldn't ever admit that he had emotions unless you used a crow bar to pry them out of him. I would watch his brother and my uncles as a giant collection of men I could maybe grow up and emulate or at least borrow a bit from here and there. One specific uncle is the persona I do a poor impersonation of in public as the life of the party. Part of why I know to enjoy the decline but still try to make things better is that this guy and others passed on generational knowledge of crap they and others had been through. This is how we got here, don't screw it up, and try to scrape together more for your sons.
My paternal grandparents in the late '40s.
This is broken in our modern world. For roughly 40 years, we've seen more and more boys grow up without a dad, or maybe without a grandfather or two. It's not just the absence of one father, but the lack of a deep reservoir of masculinity. Do I hold modern men in contempt? Sure, not as much as modern women. If we're to believe those liberals who preach environment and nurture is important for development, then modern young men have an excuse as they have been denied not just a dad but consistent exposure to multiple male role models in their families. You want to talk about oversized boys 'manning up', give them something stable to man up to? Give them daily role models to absorb and consider when they grow and develop into men. The sad truth of so many things in our devolved society is that we set children up in situations that will increase their likelihood for failure or dysfunction but never once consider the source and where accountability lies. It is far easier to criticize Millenial men and forget that our society tore them away from their dads and made them suspicious of every grown man they met.
Did my grandfather ever say he loved me? Hell no. Did he have to? No. I have this pic. It's all I needed.