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Yes, real men do cry

This is a letter to my two grandsons and the Pagosa Football Team.

Yes, real men do cry.

Creede, I ran up to you at the end of the Centauri game. You had all played your hearts out; you were tired, dirty and sweaty, and you came off the football field defeated. They had just slammed your team. I am sure you heard a pep talk during the halftime that curled your toes. That’s the coaches’ job, to make you the best you can be.

As a grandmother, it’s my job to tell you, “It is okay to cry when you’re hurting.”

Oh, my goodness, both you and your brother have had broken arms, collarbones, fingers, a thumb and a foot, too. Your parents stopped counting the breaks a couple of years ago.

It’s a different pain when your heart is breaking and your spirit is defeated.

When I approached you, I think you were embarrassed — you were crying and you pulled away. I was wearing your No. 72 jersey and wanted to thank you for thinking so highly of me.

At 16, the fact that you wanted your grandmother to wear your number and didn’t think it odd to ask me to wear it; it was big to me. I was proud to do it.

You have already proven to me that you are a man of your own making. You do not care what your friends are doing; you know what you want, and you haven’t been concerned by peer pressure. You are becoming a quiet leader.

Your older brother, Slade, stood on the sideline of that game and watched you fight to win. He, too, is a tough linemen.

I heard many say in the previous game, “That line held the other team; it couldn’t get through.”

While you played and were pushed against the wall, I know he wished he could have been out there helping you and his team.

He loves football, too. The summer before his sophomore year, he had a terrible accident, which tore the muscle off his leg. He attended the practices in a wheelchair, hoping he was going to be able to play. By the time the season started, it was obvious he wouldn’t play that year.

He cried because he couldn’t play. That was the year he stood on the sideline and watched his little brother come into his own. You, too, care deeply, and you are vested in the game of football.

It’s a different pain when your heart breaks than when a bone breaks. You and your team played the whole game with your heart and the other team won. There is nothing to be ashamed of.

You are facing some big teams this year. I hope every game is a victory. But, if it isn’t, it’s okay to cry. Show others you care deeply and you are committed to stay in the game no matter the pain. If you do, you will approach life’s relationships with the same commitment.

I’m proud of all the boys of fall.

Final brushstroke: I’ve seen your Dad cry over little things. He cares deeply. I’ve seen your Grandpa Slade cry for joy when he walked down the aisle with your mother and cry deeply when he had to bury his dogs. I love both of these men for being real men and having hearts that are tender enough to cry. It means they care. Your Dad and your Grandpa are giants in my eyes. If you aspire to be as great as they are, then you will have lived your life well.

Artist’s quote

“A great life is born in the soul, grown in the mind, and lived from the heart.” — Suzanne Zoglio.

Readers’ comments: I would love to hear from you. E-mail me at betty@bettyslade.com.

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