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I'll do my cryin' in the rain ...Posted Wednesday, November 4, 2009, at 6:03 PM
I'm at that age where I cry a lot.
Oh, it's not because I'm sad, at least not all the time. I have a good life -- a job I enjoy, a loving and thoughtful husband, grandchildren, the blessing of good health -- there's not much cause for me to cry.
But I do -- and at the most inconvenient times. It's annoying, because it happens at odd times and for odd reasons. Or sometimes for what seems like no reason at all.
You might call it "stealth" crying, because it sneaks up on me.
One minute I'm searching for a radio station, and then a song comes on and the next minute, I'm searching for a Kleenex.
On Monday, I was driving home from a short trip to Sedalia, scanning radio stations for something that wasn't a commercial, a born-again Christian or a call-in talk show, and found KRLI, a local station I'm sorry to say I'd never heard of until then.
At first, I didn't recognize what I was hearing because it was an instrumental piece, but then a picture flashed across my memory screen. My sister and I and several of our cousins were gathered around a player piano in the basement recreation room at my aunt's house. Barbara Ann was sitting on the piano bench, pumping like crazy as all of sang along - "If her eyes are blue as skies, that's Peggy O'Neal. Irish laughter all the while, that's Peggy O'Neal ... "
All of us knew all the words, but just in case we didn't, they were written right on the paper roll. It had to be close to 50 years ago, before we all grew up and started on our assigned paths in life, which, all those years ago, we didn't even know we had to walk.
And I could feel the tears start right then ...
Not for myself, not even for them, but for that frozen moment when we didn't know anything bad would ever happen.
When I was a teenager, at the age when most girls blubbered their way through romantic movies, I prided myself on never giving in to tears.
It wasn't hard to stay cool.
"Oh, for heaven's sake, it's just a movie," I said to Susan Dolan as she bawled her eyes out watching Rhett Butler turn to Scarlett O'Hara and tell her that, after all, he didn't actually give a damn.
Or maybe I didn't cry because she had read the book before we saw the movie and I hadn't. I didn't realize that was the end of the movie, and as the music came up and the credits started to roll, I was pretty steamed that it hadn't turned out the way I expected.
I was so steamed that I stood up in the theater, turned to Susan and said, loudly, "Why didn't you tell me it ended like this?"
She just kept sniffling and crying, all the way home.
It wasn't hard to stay cool the first time I saw "The Way We Were," either.
What's to cry about? Isn't that Robert Redford kissing Barbra Streisand? No tears for that. Well, okay, maybe I could squeeze out a little tear that it isn't me.
I kept my cool when my daughter was born. I was a little older than most of my friends before I decided it might be a good idea to have children, so maybe that's why I didn't cry. But they all told me they burst into tears as soon as the baby was handed to them.
This is one of those times when tears seemed even more ridiculous to me.
Labor, which is painful, is over. The baby has one head, two arms and two legs, 10 fingers and 10 toes and is breathing normally -- what on earth are you crying about now?
I was so good at keeping my cool all those years that, unbeknownst to me, my relatives thought I never cried.
On the day after my father died in 1999, I walked two doors down the street to my aunt's house, to ask my uncle if he would do me a favor.
"Dad used to put out the flag I bought him at Pearl Harbor every day," I said. "Would you do that for Mom, now that he's gone?"
I choked on the last few words as my eyes filled with tears.
"That's the first time I've ever seen you cry," my uncle said, looking stunned. "But I guess you've cried your share, haven't you?"
And I had.
It wasn't that I never cried at all. I just didn't cry where anyone could see me. Crying is messy and ugly and distracting. It makes your mascara run until you look like a raccoon. It stops up your nose and makes your eyes red. It's not pretty.
But, I suppose there are more tears in store for me. Part of aging is saying goodbye to everyone who goes before you do, and the older you get, the more of that there is. More weddings, more babies, more graduations, more broken hearts and more of autumn's beautiful leaves to cry over. More days with beautiful sunsets, more memories stirred up by music, more of everything that makes you cry.
If you'll excuse me, I need to get another box of Kleenex.
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Kathy Fairchild received a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration in 1986 from Marycrest College, Davenport, Iowa. She is also a 2003 graduate of the paralegal program at New York University. She moved to Marshall in 2006, following a career of more than 30 years with the world's largest farm equipment manufacturer. She is an Air Force brat and grandmother of four.