No More Tears

on July 1, 2011 in Family

Hi folks! You’ll find quite a difference in the overall tone of this post compared to what you’re used to reading in The 50 Plus Male. I’ll go as far as stating I’m aware this journey goes against conventional wisdom in many ways: subject matter, my thoughts and actions, and perhaps most importantly, I ask a lot of questions instead of providing streams of thought that help you answer a particular problem…so with great humility, I kindly ask you at the outset to accept my mea culpa.

Father and sonLike many of you, it’s been quite a few years since my father passed away. It happened suddenly on a Saturday night while my parents were out with another couple. My father had a heart attack while in the car (thankfully he was not the driver), and died at the too young age of 40. I was 15 at this time; my poor brother was only the tender age of 11. My mother, bravely ministering to the events of the evening that forever changed our lives, had (unbeknownst to me) immediately called my older cousin and her husband to come to our house and let me know an “accident” had occurred. It was just past the midnight hour, and I was engrossed in watching Double Chiller Theater (a local Saturday night TV staple) while my younger brother slept. Given the lateness of the hour, along with the fact that my cousin and her spouse rarely visited us, I immediately semi-froze  upon opening the door and seeing the two of them standing there solemn-faced.

It’s funny how the mind reacts to unforeseen situations; in this case, without a beat, I asked “mom or dad?” I instinctively knew one of them had died and cut right to the heart, literally and figuratively. The remainder of the evening was a blur, and there’s no need for additional detail. So many of us have experienced the passing of one or both of our parents; it’s best to let personal thoughts remain private…

Cut to the present; June 13th was my dad’s birthday and he would have been 84 this year. June 19th was Father’s Day, so it’s a reasonable assumption that week is annually the most painful part of the calendar for us. Sometime during the week, my mother, brother and I visit my dad’s grave…oddly enough, this is generally done on an individual basis and this year was no different.

When making this pilgrimage, I bring some landscaping tools so I can tend to my father’s gravesite by ridding it of weeds, tilling the small, mostly bare patch of soil fronting the gravestone, applying a bit of mulch, and trimming the one shrub planted there. We pay to have the site cared for by the cemetery staff, but as many of you have doubtless encountered, this service is woefully lacking.

Here’s a pronouncement of something I don’t do…cry. I cannot explain this phenomenon, but find it deeply disturbing. Is it because so many years have gone by since this tragedy took place? Is it due to rapidly approaching my 59th birthday and grown men just don’t cry as easily as they did during their formative years? Maybe my dad is silently communicating he doesn’t want any tears shed; just remember the happy times? After all, how many instances have you heard “it’s the amount of life in the years that matter, not the amount of years in the life?”

Bewilderment and no small amount of shame are the by-products of this distinct lack of tears. Like constant, unwanted companions, they attach themselves to my soul and remain there for weeks after my gravesite vigil. How about you, my 50 plus male brethren…are similar circumstances presenting themselves during your trips to the cemetery? Do you know why? I welcome your comments (just click on the “Leave a Comment” link below the title).

(I’ll end this discourse on a somewhat amusing note:  the title “No More Tears,” while certainly apropos, oddly comes from my favorite Ozzy Osbourne song, which describes “the dark one” leaving his current female paramour. I told you I’m perplexed by my feelings; thinking of Ozzy at a time like this merely underscores my jumbled gravesite demeanor).

-Neal



2 Responses to “No More Tears”

  1. Ina says:

    I too lost my father at 16, crushed by a car, so it also was a shocker, and my mom was a basket case. I have never ever really recovered from this tragedy, but I too visit my father’s and mother’s grave quite frequently. I just pop in, and I usually say a prayer, leave stones on the markers, kiss the father/or mother wording, and I sit and talk. I do cry many times! I do not know if it is being a woman, plus I have a lot of emotion as a person to begin with, but there are times I just stare at the graves and feel numb. Other times I truly cry with great emotion. I so want to believe I will see them again, but as years have gone by, and I am now older, having lost both my parents, way longer than most have, I yearn for them so. If their graves had a bench, I think I would stay longer at times, but no bench was allowed where they are. I kiss my mother/father’s pictures many times as I will go by in the house, and I think of them many times in a week. I do not know what others do. I have been so long without any parent that it is now so hard to watch my friends have all the problems that will/do arise. It’s reliving for me. I think Neal, you are numb and do not allow yourself the raw emotional feelings that men suppress at times. I say let it out. It is cathartic!!!! Grown Men Do Cry and I happen to love seeing Men being able to cry at times, as well as hug another man. It’s human and warm.
    My very best to you. Ina

  2. Mike Kirkeberg says:

    Interesting. My dad died of a heart attack in his car as well. He was parked outside his favorite bowling alley, which may have been fitting for him. I was a little older than you, about 21. He was 47, would have been 88 this year, now that I do the math. Thanks for the post; thought provoking.

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