Earth Stories

“My daddy always said, ‘It takes more of a man to walk away from a woman than to hit a woman.’ And, you know, women sometimes say stuff that will make you want to hit them. But, I always remember what my daddy said and walk away.”


A hulk of a man stands in front of me—a stranger. He has been talking for quite some time. The weight of a custody case, involving some of his grandchildren, weighs heavily upon him. He is wondering why a court would award custody of small children to a violent father over and above a safe, extended family.

The sheer bulk of this man’s frame appears even greater as I watch him gently sorting the small laundry items from his grandchildren by another daughter. The man’s other daughter is not here to attend to her own laundry because she is out running errands. Time is precious, so her father steps in to help her with her family’s laundry whenever he is available.

Each of this man’s fists easily hold four or five articles of small-person clothing. From basket to washer to basket to dryer. Even the idea of this man’s frame wanting to do physical harm is a daunting prospect. Yet, here he is performing a domestic task of genuine service for an adult child in need.

Speaking of the daughter who is running errands, he says, “With his children and her children, this daughter has five little ones under the age of seven at home.” Nodding in acknowledgment of his statement, I complete the folding of my own large items.

With my basket packed to go, I fumble for something appropriate to say in parting. Finally, I wish the man a safe and productive day.

As I am leaving, I consider the wish that every man (and woman) would receive the counsel that this stranger received from his “daddy”—that it takes a bigger person to walk away from physical violence than it does to perpetuate domestic abuse.