July 15, 2014

The Old Guy Next Door

In a past Man-Making Blog post, I wrote a tribute to the old guy, Mark Moore, who lived next door to my family when I was a young boy. I didn't have grandfathers, uncles, or any men from my family around me as a kid. That's why my time with Mark was always full of gifts. His garage workshop became a refuge from the alcoholic craziness in my house. He taught me lots of things about drills, wrenches, fishing gear, engines, lumber, and about being a (young) man. Most importantly, by simply giving his time and attention Mark showed me he cared about me. Without anything ever being said directly, in those difficult days of my life, Mark became a much needed, loved, and trusted old guy friend. That was what I needed most in those days.

. . . a beautiful tale of friendship across the ages . . .

So I felt a huge tug on my heart strings when I came across a story by my local news channel, KARE 11 News. They did a story about a friendship between 3-year-old Emmett and 89-year-old Erling from Farmington, Minnesota. It's a beautiful tale of friendship across the ages, full of the kind of unspoken, mutual love that comes naturally to the very young and very old.

Erling had simply been the old guy living next door to Emmett's family for ten years. The families really hadn't known each other very well until the 3-year-old reached out. Emmett simply walked over to Erling one day and asked him about his "matoes!" The full story is told in the video below. Warning, expect some man tears.

If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

If this video reaches into your masculine heart as it did mine, it's most likely because you're in touch with the soft transformational power of a caring older man in a young guy's life. Emmett and Erling are at the extreme ends of the age continuum, yet the same can happen at almost any age. Who was the Erling or Mark Moore, the old guy in your life? Who was the older man who briefly or for a longer period of time showed up and gave you the gifts of his time and attention? We all have a few men like that you can find if you take the time to examine your life closely. The coach, a teacher, a scout master, someone from your spiritual community, or maybe it was the old guy next door.

The really important take-away here is . . .

The really important take-away here is that YOU could be that nice older man for some boy or young guy. It doesn't take any special training. Erling and Mark Moore didn't have any. In fact, it could really be as simple as a common love for "matoes!"

SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (Does not work in email post delivery, sorry.)

CONTACT: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm available to help bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, use this link for a free subscription.

TWEET: Send this post along to your friends or follow me on Twitter!


  1. Dave Bolduc11:37 AM

    What a great story. Bitter Sweet for sure. Loss/saying goodbye is tough. And They say, “better to have love & lost than never have loved at all”. With tears of joy & sorrow.

  2. I'm living in Jerusalem, in Israel, running a language school (teaching Hebrew and English). Your entry on The Old Man Next Door reminds me that boys and younger men may very well be looking up to me or wanting to connect with me. My story has been, "why would they want me?," but I know it's not true. I see it in my daily life (among boys and young men who are Jews as well as Arabs). I am opening myself up to it more now. Thanks for the inspiration.


Your response to this blog post is appreciated and welcome.