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Chuck Hinman: IJMA 084 : What Makes Men Cry

Chuck Hinman, It's Just Me Again 084 : What Makes Men Cry : Memorable Cries of Chuck Hinman
The next earlier Chuck Hinman Story: - IJMA 102 - My Earliest Remembrance

By Chuck Hinman

What Makes Men Cry
Memorable Cries of Chuck Hinman

Yesterday, our preacher, Brother Tom Cox preached on the subject "The Tears of Jesus." His introductory remarks included something we all know, women cry easier than men. I reminisced briefly on what brought on the few of my own memorable cries. Three "barn burners" came to mind and I decided to write them sometime. Meanwhile, back to his sermon....

Our daughter, Mary Ann, was difficult to raise when she became a teenager. Having a job and her own car added to her sense of independence I suppose. One of the problems was she refused to abide by a house rule that she be home by 10 PM on school nights. There were constant infractions on her part of this standard family rule. Many times, she wasn't home by midnight.

Jawing at her was an exercise in futility. After prayerful deliberation, I decided to give her an ultimatum which with Mary Ann was a waste of breath. In some predictable way, she seemed to be challenged to disobedience any time an ultimatum was involved even including her recent suicide. But being impressed with the scripture (Proverbs 22:6) which admonishes "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it," I moved on uncomfortably. I told her we would ALWAYS leave the front door light on and the door unlocked until she got home. She could count on that being a sign that we loved her and trusted her. But the flip side of that finally became that if she came home, found the light turned off and the door locked in such a way that even her key wouldn't gain her admission, that was a sign that she had removed herself from the umbrella of parental indulgence and she would have to suffer the consequences.

That instruction was put to a test shortly. When she hadn't returned home by 11 PM or so, I reluctantly got up, locked the door including the dead-bolt, and returned to bed. I didn't sleep and eventually saw the lights turn in the driveway. I nervously waited for Mary Ann to try the door several times. Eventually I heard the car drive away and there was no more activity at the front door! Oh God, what have I done -- did I really want this?

I burst into uncontrollable sobs like I wouldn't have believed possible. After all, I am a man and men don't cry, I thought.... I didn't sleep all night between praying for my own guidance and Mary Ann's well-being for the night. Suffice it to say that even though the above scripture is true, in Mary Ann's case it was tested many times. That was memorable cry number one.

The next two memorable cries came AFTER, not before the funerals of the two most loved women in my life, my wife Connie and our daughter Mary Ann.

Connie and I had a rich and full life of fifty some years; nothing was left unfulfilled when God in his perfect timing and wisdom took her home. I had prayed many times I would not be stricken with uncontrollable grief when that time came. God honored that prayer and then some.

I went to the funeral home to pay the bill a few days after her services. As I was leaving, Mr. Walker stopped me and said he had something he knew I would want to have. It was the remainder of Connie's bottle of cologne spray, Elizabeth Arden's Red Door. It was her trademark fragrance the last 15 years of her life. Of course I wanted it.

I started the motor, hesitated a minute, and noticed the cologne bottle on the seat. I picked it up and sprayed a dab on the back of my hand and innocently sniffed it as I had done so many times when caring for her.

Oh God, that was a mistake! Or was it a mistake? All the years of my life with Connie were paraded before my eyes and I was undone -- totally! God had marvelously honored my request to not allow me to lose control at her passing but He chose this time, in the empty parking lot of the funeral home -- the funeral music long since silenced, the words of comfort only a memory, friends and relatives returned home, and here am I, COMPLETELY ALONE for the first time in 50 years.

I turned off the motor and gave myself completely to my emotions and what a cry it was! If cries can be satisfying, certainly that one was. There wasn't a soul around; it was just God and me and Connie's spirit. I didn't try to shorten the incident or mask it with false manliness. When it was totally over and the tear well was bone dry, I audibly said "Thank you Lord for allowing this to happen. Your timing is perfect." VROOOOM! End of memorable cry number two.

Fast forward a little over 4 years to June 2006 for my most recent memorable cry. Interesting that this cry took place at Mary Ann's gravesite in Memorial Park cemetery, just across the highway from the funeral home parking lot where I cried my guts out over Connie. Only now, I had experienced the unthinkable grief, the death by suicide of your kid! I don't know how I steeled myself from crying to the shattering news from former son-in-law Larry as he called me from dinner at Tallgrass to the atrium where he broke the news that Mary Ann had taken her life. I was crushed. I may have shed a tear but I didn't boo-hoo.

Even when Detective Steve Birmingham of the Bartlesville police department came to my apartment that afternoon with Mary Ann's, oh so personal and touching suicide note to me in which she penned these words, I didn't cry. I understood why she did it and the timing. It was her response to a recent ultimatum from me that I would bail her out from her most recent gambling predicament (as well as forget it) but this was the "very" LAST TIME. As it turned out, this ultimatum didn't allow her any slack and she finally honored an ultimatum which I now wish I could retract.

If you are a father, imagine if you can, what these unexpected words written in your child's own familiar childlike handwriting would do to you.

" Dear Dad, If you are reading this, well I am no longer here. I am so sorry for everything. I'm sorry for hurting you and disappointing you. I'm sorry I wasn't the daughter I should have been to you. Dad I turned into someone I am ashamed of. Someone who was a big liar. And also a thief. That is why I couldn't live any longer. Sunday I came to your place and wrote myself a check from Arvest and Merrill Lynch, each for $500.00. I was desperate. I owed two house payments and two car payments, bills, checks etc. I thought I could win the money and pay you back but I needed rescuing so badly but no one could see how I was drowning plus with no friends and being all alone -- who would have known. Please forgive me Dad.

" I am so sorry Dad! So, so, sorry.

" I love you! Mare

" P.S. Please make sure Kasi is taken care of."

There were some other personal instructions.

You may be surprised to know that reading this letter from my 46 year old daughter did not trigger a gusher of tears because unfortunately I knew where she was coming from. In her mind, she was hopelessly trapped like a frightened animal and as she said, I didn't know of her plight or I would have gladly cut her some slack. Here's what unlocked the gates of my pent-up tear storage.

Several months after her services I received a call from Memorial Park Cemetery saying the headstone for her burial plot was in place and they thought I might like to drive by and see it.

When my eyes saw the flat shiny stone, rather small, with the words -- "In Loving Memory of Mary Ann DeLaPorte -- January 7, 1960 -- March 22, 2006," THAT DID IT! If you think a grown 84 year old man can't cry inconsolably, you are flat wrong. I was all by myself and I didn't rush the experience. I knew it was coming. I just didn't know when it would come.

My thoughts were mostly that the stone was incongruous, just flat wrong and totally out of place. This is my baby! Mare is too young, her shiny green Honda SUV with the trademark cracked windshield she was always going to replace when she had the money should be sitting just across the street a few hundred feet from where her ashes are interred, at work at Overlees Lumber Company. She had worked there for years and I frequently dropped in to shoot the breeze with this bubbly gal for a few minutes. She always made me laugh and never failed to tell me she loved me when I left. It was her trademark which now is silenced and I miss it dreadfully. After my emotions were satisfied, I wiped my eyes, straightened the flowers that were already in place in the urn, wiped off her shiny headstone with my tear drenched hankie, and walked unsteadily with the aid of my cane to my nearby car and left.

Yes, men do cry and cry hard. Our hearts are fragile and breakable. I know.

Written by Chuck Hinman, November 2006.

This story was posted on 2012-10-21 05:45:18
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