Somehow my best friend and I got onto a topic that brought up how I almost never saw my father cry. And then I was inspired to work on this #AtoZChallenge this year, though it has been a long time since I have done it and it has been quite hard to work through (in a good way). I’m glad I was so inspired and will eventually go through all of this.
My mother was definitely the crier on the family. I hit upon this on my other blog where I am reminiscing about her. My father almost never cried, nor did his mother. I have always jokingly blamed it on our British heritage, but I have no idea why he didn’t let out his emotions as much.
His father died when I was just three years old. I remember bits and pieces of that time period, but nothing specific about how anyone handled it, other than me being annoyed I couldn’t go with all of my cousins to the cemetery. My mom always said she didn’t see my father cry at all until at least a month after the funeral, when they were visiting the grave, and he just collapsed in tears.
Fast forward several ups and downs in life. Then one day, as a family, we watched the movie My Girl. When Macauley Calkin died, my father walked out of the room because he was crying. He could never watch that movie without crying.
When I was 19 years old, I had been working on a painting as my final art project at my parents’ house. I put the last dab of paint, set down my paintbrush and said I was done. I had to get going because I needed to drop it off on campus before going to my after school care job. My parents told me they needed to tell me something. My father fell apart as they detailed how my cousin’s two-year-old son had died in an accident. It was traumatic enough for us all as it was, but he was like a grandson to my parents. Dad was devastated. I can still picture this clearly in my mind all these years later.
About nine years ago, I was home visiting for spring break from my teaching job. I was getting ready to head out to see David Gray in concert and was playing some of the music for my dad. We were just kind of talking about all kinds of things and suddenly he burst into tears. My mom was really slipping into Alzheimer’s at that point, and Dad was her primary caregiver. No matter how hard we tried to get some extra help for her, we just kept hitting wall after wall. He was completely worn out and let his guard down. I almost burst into tears myself, but almost more because he was crying. Like I said, that almost never happened and it wrecked me.
Later that year, my grandmother died. She was 95 and succumbed to pneumonia after falling and breaking a couple of vertebrae. But she was sharp as a tack and we somehow thought she would be around forever, you know? And especially as things were getting rough with Mom and all the help she needed, Dad really depended on her for some support. “I just need my mommy still,” he said to me. So many tears were shed during that time.
A couple of months after that, I remember having a dream that my grandmother came to visit me and brought my grandfather and the man we called my step-grandfather to come see me as well. Dad didn’t exactly cry, but his eyes did well up with tears, because he hadn’t had that happen. I understand now that desire to see your parents, even if only in your dreams.
And then my dad got sick. Mom had run away from home, which then facilitated us getting her into a care facility, finally. While trying to get her situated, Dad had fallen and hit his head, but hadn’t gone to get care. There was a brain bleed. An attempt at surgery only temporarily helped. I still remember standing in his room at the long-term care center when he realized that he was going to die. He was still unable to talk, because of being on a ventilator. He had been unconscious for the better part of six weeks at this point. But that last week, he was wide awake. The one night, I needed to get back home so that I could get some sleep. I didn’t want to leave him, because I knew we didn’t have much longer together. I gave him a hug goodbye and my cheeks got wet as tears were streaming down his cheeks.
It’s been eight years, and that image still hurts as much as when it happened. I have tears streaming down my cheeks right now.
But even though my father didn’t necessarily cry to show his emotions like me and my mother did, he still felt a lot of things, had a lot of gratitude, and enjoyed the simple things in life. Besides, I think I do enough crying for us both still to this day. And it’s okay.
Catch up on more of my #AtoZChallenge 2019 posts about Dad here.
Read some of my older #AtoZChallenge posts about Dad:
C is for Cooking (2012)
Read my thoughts on Mom this year, eight months after she passed away here.