I don’t know if I have ever told you how much I hate seeing or hearing someone crying. I don’t mean to tell you that crying is bad, it’s just the only thing I can say without blinking that I absolutely hate. It’s not that there is anything wrong with shedding a tear for a good reason. Shoot, I had to go behind a tree a couple of times while over in Vietnam. My kids, like kids everywhere, hear everything said and soon found out that I hated to see them cry. So, they would start misting up when I was losing my temper.
That stopped me every time; however, the single most important person in my life is also my Achilles’ heel. My beautiful wife hardly ever cries. I can’t remember the first time she ever cried in front of me, but I can tell you that it was a sound I never wanted to hear again. It was probably something stupid I had done, like wreck my motorcycle or roll my pickup over. She worries about my immaturity all the time.
This past weekend I hadn’t done anything stupid, but I heard her crying. It was like fingernails on a blackboard. I guess most folks have never heard that sound. Blackboards were replaced by white boards. But when I was a young boy who vexed the teacher a little bit more than I should have, I would be assigned to clean the erasers of the chalk used to write on the board. That’s where you take all the erasers outside and bang them together to get all the chalk out of them. Just to illustrate my maturity, I would come back into the classroom and scratch my fingers on the blackboard and then look so innocent when that screech sounded. No recess for me that day.
I tell you all that to explain that she was in pain this weekend and allowed a tear to trickle on her beautiful cheek. Oh, I was beside myself with angst. What had I done to cause her pain? I figured it had to be something I had done, right? No, it was something else, but even knowing I hadn’t caused it did me no good. Eventually she visited the doctor and got the medicine she needed, but that didn’t help me. All I could see the rest of the weekend was that one tear rolling down her cheek.
Of course, if I told you that story, I must tell you about a weekend that opened the eyes of my two boys. My beautiful bride is the example of goodness. I cannot remember her ever saying any blue word except for one time. This was a few years ago during “Big Week,” up in Salinas. Both the boys were working and going to school and one got off work before the other. The deal was, there was only one vehicle that they were going to use to drive up to the Rodeo. One was ready to go and the other was in the shower. The one who had already completed all his absolutions was outside waiting for the other to get finished and to get dressed and drive both up north.
Well, things escalated when the showeree took too long to finish washing up. Words were said and anger was shown. In other words, they got into a fight. Not in our house or in the backyard where they would not be seen by the public, but this fight and they had plenty of those, happened on our front lawn.
I’m pretty sure I have told you about being from a family of four boys so fights were common, perhaps not a daily affair, but also not something that my parents paid much attention to. In any case, Lorraine did not grow up in such an atmosphere so as she was returning to our house from the neighbors’ she observed her two precious boys rolling around on the lawn saying words that were foreign to even my unsullied ears while pummeling each other in front of the world. She could not get them to stop, so she ran into the house where I was watching TV and tearfully exclaimed that they were killing each other.
“You have to stop them,” she beseeched me. “The neighbors will think they are crazy.” I had heard them, but as I said, brothers fighting is not unusual. It happened about every night while I was growing up. “Honey,” I said, “boys do that. Uh, could you move a little? You are standing in front of the TV.” Do I have to tell you she was a little more excited than I thought as the tears started rolling as she grew more upset? “Ah shoot! Please don’t cry,” I begged.
I should not have waited until a commercial before acting, but finally I figured she was really upset. So I went outside and told them both that since they were acting as children, I wanted them to go to their rooms. Their rooms by the way are side by side. So even as they stopped physical activity, they began to verbally berate each other in a loud manner. I’m back on the couch watching TV when all of a sudden Lorraine runs by me holding one of the many fragrant candles that she usually has burning somewhere in the house to freshen the air. The boys could see her coming, but their response was to step back from the doorway as she approached. They were not intimidated as they knew she was a pushover for their smiles.
I, by this time, decided I would have to get involved. Too late! She stepped into each of the two rooms and threw those two candles, one in each room, as hard as she could. They hit the wall and shattered and caused two things to happen simultaneously. The boys shut up with the most chagrined look on their face and sat down on their beds without another word. I slunk by into our bedroom and heard her tell them she was through with being nice.
That as long as they lived in this house, they would never fight or ignore her again. Then she went back to the kitchen with smoke coming out of her ears. You know, I swear those two guys have never fought again. At least that I know of. I will not say that it was a good idea, but it sure worked and she even quit crying somewhere during this ending and her boys now respond quickly when she asks for anything. I was just glad she quit crying.