I don’t know about you, but after the last few months, exploring the business end of fiction, I’m about ready for a break. For the next few weeks, I’m going to write about anything but business…
Real Men Don’t Cry…
I was raised in a Catholic Irish-Italian-German household. Men watched football on Sunday, drank beer, sometimes smoked, and never ever ever cried. To this day, nearly 50 years on, I’ve never seen my father shed a tear.
I consider myself as “real” a man as any (given that gender roles are learned and entirely arbitrary).
- I enjoy the occasional game of football when I don’t have anything better to do, and even broke my arm playing a pick-up game in the neighborhood when I was a kid. I’m looking forward to the upcoming NFL season. (Go Giants!)
- I was a smoker for many years.
- I’ve been known to enjoy a pint of Guinness or three.
I don’t cry when I get hurt. I don’t cry at funerals. I don’t get all weepy when things don’t go my way.
Except When They Do…
But there are some moments of beauty in life that demand (in my opinion) a tear.
The Birth of my Daughters
When my elder daughter was born, and I held her in my arms for the first time? That this wee little, red-faced, squirming bundle had come, by some miracle, to exist? And that in 18 years, I’d have to start paying her college-tuition? Oh, hell yeah: I cried.
When the second one was born? Twice the tuition?!
Yeah. Totally bawled.
Anytime Spider-Man is Aided by Ordinary Citizens
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s something to do with having been in New York City on 9/11 and the days thereafter, when New Yorkers, in their state of shock, showed a kindness and tenderness toward one another that is not common in my experience.
Or maybe it’s just the amazing advances in tear-jerking movie-making technology.
But anytime that Peter Parker finds himself in a tough place, and the common citizens of New York City come to his aid—”You pick on one of us? You pick on ALL OF US!”—I get all choked up.
Aw hell… I need a tissue…
Any Sunday in Church
I was raised Catholic. I’m not a regular church-going man, and I’m also a skeptic and I’ve flirted with alternative religious choices over the years (including agnosticism and atheism).
But I came back to Catholic when my daughters were born. The Catholic Divine is “the god my people swear by,” and I have a lot of respect for my ancestors, even if I disagree with certain Church policies and teachings, and even if I believe that it’s possible for science and religion to peacefully co-exist in the same head at the same time.
So I’m responsible for my daughters’ religious education, and during my custody-time, I make a point of bringing them to church on Sundays, just as my parents took me, and their parents took them, and on back through the generations.
And I do consider myself to have a deep and personal relationship with the Divine, in part because of, yet also apart from, the Church. So I spend my time in Church honestly and sincerely praying, speaking with the Divine in my own way, asking for Its blessings on the things I care about, and for Its guidance and wisdom on the difficult decisions and circumstances that I (like anyone) face.
One of those difficult circumstances is the immense distance between myself and my daughters. They are such bright, beautiful, energetic, talented, and intelligent young people. They grow everyday by a leap and a bound.
But I only see them a few times a year, and for a limited number of days. The last week of July saw my two daughters headed home again, without me. I won’t see them in person again until Christmas.
I wish to God it was different. I wish I could be in their lives everyday. I wish I could see them grow in grace and in beauty, as a father is meant to do.
So on any given Sunday in Church, I ask the Divine for Its blessings and protections on my daughters. For the good fortune that someday, the distance will be narrower. For the wisdom to find my way to that day. For the strength to face each intervening day until that day comes to pass. And for the courage to get through the nights without them.
And I cry. Just a little.
Describe the last time you were moved to tears by something beautiful.