I grew up believing that men don't cry. It wasn't just an emotional response. It was a weakness and real men just didn't do it. No sir. Nothing could squeeze a drop from my eyes. No sir ... not pain, not stress ... nothing.
And then, my mother died ... and I cried. I turned away to hide this shameful act, but secretly. I felt a sense of relief that overcame the embarrassment. But, never again. No sir, just that once. After all, what's so unmanly about a son grieving over the loss of his mother?
And then, one day as I was watching a parade, our flag passed the reviewing stand while the band played a rousing Souza march. The tears welled up and I realized that I'd broken the rule again. But wait ... patriotic fervor is also a manly trait, and a few tears shouldn't dampen it.
The next time was during the movie "Titanic" the scene where the ship is going down and the men remained onboard listened to the ship's band playing "Nearer my God to thee." I was overcome once again.
Once, at a Sunday church service, I looked at my wife, who was singing in the choir. A slanted beam of light came through the stained glass window and fell upon her hair. That sight tugged at my heart and the moisture flowed. I was older now and the tears didn't run down my cheek ... they just dampened my beard.
Finally, I recall a day at the seashore with my two granddaughters standing with arms wrapped around each other, watching the seagulls soar as we listened to Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath my Wings." The girls sang along and I imagined it was me they sang "You are my Hero" to and emotion overcame me.
What does all this mean? Am I a sissy? Have I shown weakness? Do I have a low emotional plateau?
Or are we wrong to think men are all that different from women? Could it be that tears are lubrication for the soul?
After all, the ability to shed them is what separates us from the beasts.
Grandpa sez: "The reason some people don't suffer in silence is that would take all the pleasure out of it."