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Day My Father Cried, The
by: Shery Ma Belle Arrieta, Source Unknown

When I was younger, I thought that boys and grown men shouldn't cry, much less show that they can be reduced to tears. The tears were signs of being weak and a sissy, which a man isn't supposed to be, supposedly. This was even reinforced in my young mind when the Cure came out with the song, Boys Don't Cry, in the early 1980s.

But just this last June, I discovered that courage isn't all about trying to keep all the pain inside in check. Courage isn't all about trying to hide the tears. It's the opposite -- the tears reinforce the heart's courage. And I saw this in my father.

My 18-year old sister eloped and with it, I saw how vulnerable my father's heart was. My siblings and I were used to seeing him as an imposing figure and an iron-willed, authoritarian father.

For three days after my sister eloped, he wouldn't talk. He would just sit quietly outside our house in the dark. On the fourth night, I sat beside him and asked him to tell me what he feels about everything.

It has been years since I have laid my hand on my father's shoulder as we have drifted farther and farther apart while I was growing up. That night though, I sensed my father trying to control his pain and I wanted him to be able to let it out. We have all cried over what happened except him. All of us except him.

The simple touch and my words, "Dad, it's not your fault" broke my father's dam. In the darkness, he began to cry. I felt his shoulders shaking as he whispered, "Where did I go wrong? All I ever wanted was for my children to grow up right. Why couldn't your sister wait?"

I understood then why he preferred to be in the dark. By being there, he hoped to spare his family of a father's pain. His tears, though we didn't see them before that night, were there all the same.

I saw his courage, that night when my father cried with my hand on his shoulder, and understood his pain.




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