Marty's Message

Real Men Do Cry

"The more I think about it, the more I cry...the less shame I feel."

"And now, I'm glad I didn't know. The way it all would end. The way it all would go. Our lives are better left to chance. I could have missed the pain. But I'd have had to miss the dance."

The Garth Brooks song. The words. The message. The truth. The death of my father. The death of my mother. My cancer. All in a two year window. Open the floodgates. The tears streaming down my face. An emotional thunderstorm, all at once, in the arms of my wife last Saturday night.

It happened in the waning moments of a party. My party. I just turned sixty. Surrounded by my glorious family and my amazing friends. My wife, Kristine, asked the DJ to play 'The Dance'.

I cried. It's happened a lot lately. It's not the "manly" thing to say, do, or even admit. "Big boys don't cry" - the mantra of the "tough guy." Not this tough guy. Not recently anyway.

I recall a recent interview with Alex Trebek, the TV game show Jeopardy host. The 78-year-old was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. "I've had kidney stones. I've had ruptured disks, so I'm used to dealing with pain, but what I'm not used to dealing with is these surges that come on suddenly of deep, deep sadness, and it brings tears to my eyes," he said.

My father told me his dad never cried. His dad never told him, 'I love you.' That was the standard, the old school way. Men fight back tears.Struggle to hide emotion. It shows weakness, frailty, vulnerability.

My son, Vince, cries a lot. Silly things -- take away his treat, his I-Pad, he cries. He covers his head, his eyes, ashamed of his "weakness". He's eight years old. I raise my voice, "Vincent, don't cry over such silly things!" Hell, I don't know . Why am I scolding him over an emotion I never scold my daughters over? Am I wrong? Am I a bad father? A hypocrite? Could be. Heck, he probably learned the 'cry over silly things' routine from me. Right?

Author David Oshire said, "I know that you're a man, and I know that crying makes you look weak. Oh, but I assure you that there is nothing stronger than a man who isn't afraid of his own tears, and even stronger is the man who isn't afraid for others to see them streaming down his face."

He's right, ya know. So call me weak. Alex Trebek jokes about being a "wuss." Some call this new wave of emotional expression "the wussification of America". I don't know if that's accurate, but I do know I fight it every time. My daughters giggle when they see their eight-year-old brother covering his face in shame when he cries.

The more I think about it, the more I cry the less shame I feel.

There is so much reward in my life. So much to be grateful for. So much sorrow. So much pain. My mother's death. My father's death. My cancer. So much love. So much joy. Tears of joy. Lessons learned.

I'll never be ashamed of expressing myself. I could have missed the pain. But I'd have had to miss the dance. I love the dance even if it means living with the pain.

Here at Sparkt , we try to make a difference every day. Large or small.

Please let me know what you're doing to make a difference. Email me... . I really want to hear from you. I'd love to hear from some men who aren't afraid to cry.

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