Sunday, February 4, 2018

Fathers Cry

Fathers Cry
By Michael Cannata

He had always prided himself on being a strong man, as well as a father. He learned early in life, showing emotion was something real men of his generation didn't do; especially in front of people in public. Now, at a time in his life when he felt more like crying than he could ever remember, he still resisted.

His wife, his children's mother, passed away years ago. It was a long slow death and his children were aware she would be gone before they could truly understand what death really meant. Despite her suffering she still always had the strength to hold them close and kiss away their tears. In many ways she was stronger than he could ever be.

When she finally passed the husband in him was crushed by the pain, but he handled it like a man. While all their friends and family cried freely He never cried at the wake or funeral. He never cried in front of his kids. He wanted to be strong for them. Holding back his own tears took more strength than most men had.

He took on both roles, raising his son and daughter as best he knew how. It wasn't an easy for a man like him. At first he couldn't express the love he felt for his children easily, the way his wife did. She was a beautiful woman and a wonderful mother. Whenever the children needed a warm embrace she gave it to them. When they needed to hear the words, “I love you,” she was always the one to say it for both of them.

Gradually, as time passed, and he learned how to be a parent and not just a father, he learned how to say such words too. Eventually, he became more comfortable hugging his children. He learned how to tell them he loved them when he felt they needed to hear it. When he did, he would recall how it was something he never heard his father tell him. He always assumed it was because his father was a "Real Man." Real men didn't go around saying such things. That was what women... mothers… were for.

He learned to comfort his children with tender words he wasn't used to voicing. When they would climb into his arm and cry about how much they missed their mother he learned how to hold and comfort them until the tears stopped.

After a lot of complaining and coaching from the kids he learned to wash and fold their favorite clothes the same way their mother did. They taught him how to make their meals and school lunches. He was a man that took to the tasks the way he did any job. He was proud of his ability to adapt to what the job demanded and secretly relished the praise from his kids when he got things right. He knew he could never replace their mother, but he did his best to come as close as possible.

Now, he was faced with a situation that no one... man, woman, father or mother, should ever have to face; especially, alone. He still struggled with the loss of his wife. He wrestled with the pain in the way many men of his generation did, in private. But now he was facing a battle he knew couldn’t be won. His son was dying of cancer. It was only a matter of time. Once again, despite all his skills, ability and strength he was faced with the knowledge there was nothing he could do.

 He had to be strong for his daughter this time, but he wasn't sure he had that much strength left in him. He did everything to care for his son and daughter the best he could. Now, with just one child left, he felt like he would need more than twice the strength to give her the love she would need.

Regardless of the overwhelming hurt he felt, he still never cried in front of his family or friends. Tears were a sign of weakness he couldn't indulge in as a man. He had still never cried in front of his daughter and he swore he wouldn't start now.

              Yet, despite his efforts, while the man held the tears back during the day in public, at night, the father wept in his sleep, alone.

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