Wednesday, December 23, 2009

But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve

And be proud of it—sort of…..

My mother was raised by a very stoic stubborn Irish man—you don’t show emotion, it isn’t proper. You have to be strong—the whole “John Wayne Syndrome” before John Wayne. It was that era I guess. She’s changed some as she’s gotten older, but she still has a hard time showing sad emotions.

[Funny story about Granddad’s STUBBORNNESS: When he was around 76 or so, he was getting dressed to go out to his garden when he got chest pains. So he’s standing there holding onto the bedpost thinking “this is it, I’m gonna die.” Well, he decides it’s dumb to die standing up, so he lay down on his bed. He waited 10 minutes and didn’t die, so he got up and went out to do his gardening. Things had to happen on his schedule, or else. Even God wasn’t exempt from that apparently.]

My father, on the other hand, was a real anomaly for a man of his generation: he cried at the drop of a hat. The man survived malaria and a brain hemorrhage during WWII, but Hallmark commercials, or the guy carrying the torch in at the Olympics, reduced his to a blubbering fool… It was a cause for much amusement to my brothers and me. We teased him constantly [—and yes we feel bad about it now.]

My older brother would clip the filler articles from back issues of the New York Times so he’d have stuff to say when he called my parents. If Dad answered it was a good 5 minutes of crying because he was so thrilled one of his kids called. OB would just read off the goofy little filler articles to fill in the void. [Did you know that on this day in 1947, John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley invented the transistor?]

On my wedding day, I whispered the punch lines to some dirty jokes I’d heard my dad tell as we went down the aisle so that he wouldn’t be a heaping, sobbing mess. But just in case that didn’t work, I made sure the dress was drip-dry….

Okay—flash forward 30 years: my brother and I have admitted that we are now Dad. He is up there in heaven having the last laugh—and he is laughing at us, trust me. My family’s warped that way.

Anyway, I now find myself tearing up at everything. I read an article this morning about a couple whose wedding had to be completely re-planned on Saturday because of the storm here. Two local hotels pulled it all together, helped get their guests to the venue and gave them a wonderful day to remember. And there I am at my desk all blurry eyed! I don’t even know these people.

The few times I’ve happened to catch parts of Extreme Home Makeover—waterworks. The end of It’s a Wonderful Life—get the Kleenex! That stupid bell gets me every time. And talking—or even blogging about my kids and grandkid—forget about it. I love them so much that I get weepy all he time. I’ve given up on wearing mascara—who wants to look like Tammy Faye Bakker.

It can get a little embarrassing—I’ve tried to pretend I’ve got something in my eye, but I don’t think anyone’s buying it.


  1. In my family, my mother was the tough one, my father the soft one. So, one day when a friend of mine heard my Mom say the immortal sentence: 'Wait till Dad comes home', my friend asked me what kind of a threat was that? Well, I had to tell her that I was afraid of my father's softness more than of my mother's toughness.

  2. I surely wear my heart upon my sleeve...(as I'm sure you can tell just by reading my blogs). I embrace it and I'm proud of it. I am a very powerfully emotionally driven person that isn't afraid to hide any of it. I believe emotional expression is a form of maturity and growth. The more you keep inside, the more immature and developmentally stunted you are. So let it all out, EXPRESS YOURSELF!!

  3. Hi Ellen my name is Joanne and I cry all the time. I even cry during Food Network Challenges and I am proud of it. When I was dating my first husband one of the many little things that made me realize I was falling in love was his ability to cry easily. I think its a sign of strength - I know I am weird.

    You reminded me of my first wedding. I was great all day until I got in the limo with my dad (my dear dad). I started to get choked up -- I really thought I was going to lose it until we started down the aisle and my veil got caught. I thought it was my brother stepping on it so I yelled his name out. All my tension was released - everyone was actually amused because they knew it wasn't my brother but the damn mat by the door. I had to apologize at the reception -- thanks for the memory.

  4. Crying is good as well as laughing!! Wear that heart proudly.

  5. alright!!! Blubberers of the world unite!!!!

    Have fun weeping over your Christmas cards gang. Tonight I will be getting all nogged out and whirling myself into a curling ribbon stupor

  6. When I was young anger and frustration, injustice would make me cry and really at the most inopportune times. Later after I got control of that, my own life was full of misery and I cried a lot. Now that is over and if I never cry again, it will be too soon.