I won’t lie – I’m pretty sure my dad has cried more than once in his life. Truth be told though I have only seen him cry openly in front of me once. I’ve seen him angry, happy, calming, friendly and pretty much every other state of emotion quite regularly. But I had to wait until 16 years of my life had passed before I saw my father cry in front of me.
But it wasn’t the death of a relative or the source of appalling news that triggered the glut of eye moisture. Nope, it was simply one song during one scene from a film. As soon as Queen’s, Who wants to Live Forever kicked in during Highlander my dad broke down on the sofa opposite me. I was feeling pretty stirred by the scene and I guess I looked at my dad for support as I could feel myself wanting to cry too. Instead I saw something heartbreaking. In fact I’m pretty much welling up at the thought of it now. Fuck.
Seeing my dad, the rock of my childhood, crying. Christ, I had no idea what to do or say. I think we just sat there in silence and let the film carry on. My dad and I have never really talked about that moment before but I think we really should; the death of my wife’s father earlier this year has rammed that truth home well enough.
The thing I realise is that my dad was never the ‘rock’ of my childhood. My dad was (and is) neither perfect or utterly flawed; he’s just a human being but unfortunately a man who has been brought up like so many other men into thinking that tears are a sign of weakness. I may be wrong about that but that’s what it feels like. That’s what I feel like. Men are told to be strong, to ‘Man-up’, get on with it. Man has allowed themselves to think that women are the tender ones who need all our love and support. Bullshit. We’re all humans and we all have emotions but through a massive male gender bias we’ve ended up in a society where men can’t talk about their emotions without fear of mockery by their peers.
The biggest killer of young men in the UK is now suicide. That is an utterly depressing fact and that needs to change. We all, men and women, need to talk more. My wife lost her father without being able to tell him half the stuff she wishes she could. I just hope that if you’re reading this you’ll pick up the phone now and simply call that male loved one and see how they are. They might need more help then you realise.