It was a rainy, cool Saturday morning and I was watching an ESPN documentary about a handicapped youth wrestler and his volunteer coach.
The boy was armless, legless but determined to be the best wrestler.
After 15 minutes, tears were sliding down my cheeks.
Mr. Quiver Chin.
I asked myself, “When did I turn into Dick Vermeil?”
Same thing happens when I watch Facebook videos of soldiers returning home and surprising their family members.
What happened, Mr. Tough Guy?
I’ve been realistic about getting older. You slow down. Hair turns white. More reflective. However, as I have aged, I wasn’t ready for becoming emotional, more often.
You know — a crybaby, at times.
Bad allergies. Again.
There may be logical, medical or psychological reasons. Something to do with lower testosterone and higher estrogen levels or whatever else I would rather not know more about because it may make me cry.
A quick Google search offers other reasons why older guys cry more often and easily. Reasons include: hormonal changes, previous trauma, depression, anxiety, social isolation, medications and health issues.
All those reasons seem extreme. My opinion: Men of a Certain Age like me let our guards down more easily and often. We care less if others see us cry. We laugh when we want to laugh. Say what we want to say.
For 55-plus years of my life, I seldom cried. Sure, I had my moments. Funerals. Births of my children. Blues’ playoff losses to Detroit. Nowadays, at age 58, the water works flow freely .
Don’t be misled here I’m not sitting around, helplessly, sobbing. There are few things as pathetic than a grown man sobbing. That’s not the case here. But my eyes get a little more helplessly moist nowadays, and it’s not always allergies.
I remember, in the late 1960s, going to Scott Air Force Base to welcome home POWs. I looked over at my Grandpa Bob. He was bawling. Nose running onto his top lip. Mr. Quiver Chin. Glasses steamed. Gramps was a mess. But he could have cared less if anyone, including his grandson, saw him.
After all these years, I get it.
I find myself tearing up watching those ESPN 30/30 or SC Featured documentaries. Jim Valvano. Handicapped athletes. Ill children. Nostalgia. Wounded veterans. Old friends reunited. There’s a documentary called “The Chicken Runs at Midnight” that tells the story of former Major League Baseball coach Rich Donnelly, whose dying teenage daughter’s prophetic words played out on a World Series stage. If you can keep a dry eye while watching this story, well, I worry about you. “Miracle at Michigan” is another ESPN video. A car wreck. Love. Life. Death. Rivalries. Rehabilitation. Football. A real-life tear-jerker. I don’t know how a person could watch it and not shed a tear.
I did fine at both my son’s and daughter’s weddings. Sentimental, sure. Tears, nope. But a little eye moisture, sure.
I got choked up when Stan Musial died. Will they ever close the streets of St. Louis for another funeral? I doubt it, in my lifetime. I’ll miss Red Schoendienst, too. I met him as a kid at the old Bank of Edgemont in East St. Louis. “Red meet Red,” is how the old bank employee introduced us. A lot of chuckles in the lobby.
I’ve always been a little soft, but it’s more common now, or maybe I just don’t try as hard to hold them back.
My favorite quote ever comes from former basketball coach Jim Valvano, who once said “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.”
Laugh. Think. Cry.
The key is balance. I’m still laughing and thinking more than I’m crying. That’s a good thing. Crying may be accepted but it’s hard to explain to my golfing buddies.