Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big boys do cry


This week Stickyfingers gallery and Sleepisfortheweak have joined up for the theme of Emotion. Have a look at some of the other fantastic photos and posts on their blogs.

I'll admit it, I'm a big soft jessy. I was meant to be the person who told MummyLimited the gender of LittleDude after he slipped out. I got as far as 'Its...a...(sniff)... B...(sob)...B...(sniff).. It's...' before degenerating into a blubbery teary mess. I think I eventually got the words out, but by then it was obvious to his mum he was a he.

I suppose you would expect a father to cry at the birth of his son, but is there an excuse for crying at the film Big? (the Tom Hanks late 80s classic). If you sit me in front of a saccharine sweet TV program or film, even if I have only been watching it for a few minutes, at some point you can guarantee the water works will start.

It isn't something I often do in public, the dark privacy of a cinema is okay, but I'm a bloke you know, I have to uphold the macho facade. However, as Za Za Gabor said 'Macho isn't Mucho', and there have been times where I have let the tears flow. Often this has happened where I work, at school, such as when a long time colleague moves on or the kids do an assembly that I'm really proud of.

As a primary teacher I am lucky that I get to work with and build good relationships with pupils in my class over a whole year. For several years as a middle school teacher I worked with the oldest year group, aged 11-12. On the final day of term, boys who had given me grief all year and cursed me in a variety of ways, would strongly hug me goodbye with tears in their eyes, showing me that all my effort was actually worth it. For once they could show their true emotions- I would pay them back in kind and show them that, yes, big boys do cry.

My most public expression of emotion and tears was in quite an obvious place, my Granddads funeral. My Granddad was the main male role model in my life, I spent a lot of time with him as a child, he always had time for me, especially when absent parents didn't. Surprisingly I never saw him cry, he was a stoical man, who never had a bad word to say against anyone, never complained and took his small pleasures in life's beauty.

I was the only family member to speak at his funeral. On that morning I knew it would be an ordeal for me to speak. I wanted to be stoical like him, but knew I would default to blubbery wreck. I couldn't read through my words to the end, even on my own. I asked others to read for me, but it was something I had written the night I found out he had died, and they all said I should be the one to read it. I was right, not only did I cry a river, for the life of me I couldn't catch a breath and was a stuttery, spluttery mess.

So I have opened my old journal for the first time since then. The past five years have papered over the Granddad shaped hole that will always be there, maybe I can read and write it now without splashing the page with salt water.

Walks down the wooded pit and along the canal
Squeezing through the hole in the fence the school kids sneaked at lunchtime
The mini grand canyon of sandstone
Watching the locks fill.
And opening and closing the gates once the boats had gone

The smell of turps in the bedroom
Binoculars always on the windowsill

The stool he sat on, the table he eat at
The bookcase he read from, the bureau he worked at
The fireplace he sat in front of
The bird table he flicked bread on
The cupboard he stored in, the easel he leant against
From oil and water colour landscapes to church walls
He carved, crafted, chiselled and painted them all

He once asked me who I admired most.
Who he admired most was Lawrence of Arabia
(from a man who never left the UK)
He remembered where he was when he found out Lawrence was dead.
In a carriage, on a train to Birmingham.
Someone had that morning's newspaper and it was on the front page.
I said the person I admired, most, then, and now, was him.
He casually scorned my answer, as if ridiculous
His humility shining through

Everytime I showed him a new technology,
he would say,'It's a different world now Danny'
He was born of a different time,
but was a man who would grace any time.

The last time I stayed with him he told me to make sure that I do one thing in this life
'What ever you do Danny, you must have children
the day your Mum was born was the best day of my life.'

Thanks Granddad I you were right, it is just a shame you went 4 years to early and LittleDude wasn't 4 years so late.

I was wrong. Big Dan still cries. Splash. Sniff. Splash.

My Granddad and I (the early 90's)

One of his water colours- with granddad and grandson on the beach below

Another water colour- Wightwick Canal where we used to walk (and I played with the lock gates)

One of his oil paintings- This is a morning sunrise in his back garden (including the bird table he built)
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