Power in Tears: My April Showers

By Allan Roy Andrews

I’ve never bought into the adage that “real men don’t cry,” and thankfully Jesus belies those words by showing his manly humanity at the news of the death of Lazarus (John 11:35).

My wife likes to tweak me occasionally by telling others I’m the only grown man she knows who cried during Disney’s “101 Dalmatians.” (Damn you, Cruella de Vil!)

I’ve simply never tried to hide my tears at poignant movies, and I discovered more than a decade ago that tears are basically uncontrollable as I delivered a eulogy to my mother during a family memorial service. I was fine about two-thirds through my prepared remarks. Then my mouth started quivering uncontrollably, my tongue turned to Styrofoam, and deep sobs broke from my soul, interrupted only by my sniffling apology to the gathered relatives.

Something similar occurred years earlier when while visiting friends in Philadelphia I read the newspaper at bedtime and discovered an obituary of a college friend who had been killed in Vietnam. I fell back on my pillow and cried deeply for 10 or 15 minutes.

Over the past three or four weeks, I’ve found myself moved to tears on numerous occasions, and all of them have come as a result of my reading or viewing.

I picked up a 2008 book of poems called America at War (NY: Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008), and cried over a poem by children’s poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Perhaps it was the cumulative effect of these fine poems gathered by Lee Bennett Hopkins; nevertheless, by the time I read Dotlich’s poem, “My Brother’s Shirt,” the futility and injustice of war had overwhelmed me as I read,

It is mine now,
one stiff Army shirt,
THOMPSON printed
on the pocket.
United States Army
sends something home;
gives part of you back.
The part that cannot
breathe, or speak
or tease me

Memory and a fictional voice triggered my tears a few days later. Reading Bernice Morgan’s novel of Newfoundland, Random Passage (St. John’s, NF: Breakwater, 1992), I came across this pedestrian declaration: “We’ll have hot bread for you before you leaves.”

It was my Aunt Eva speaking, or it could have been my Aunt Jen, or my Aunt Mary Winsor, or my cousin Frances McGowan—Newfoundlanders all—expressing hospitality in the dialect that I’d known as a boy, never questioning their grammar. Now I heard them again and cried.

I cried last week reading the sports pages and watching televised accounts of baseball in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s as the nation celebrated Jackie Robinson Day. I am a boy who grew up in Brooklyn and has never been able to get the Dodgers out of my fan’s consciousness. I can recite the uniform numbers of the stars of the Brooklyn Dodgers in Robinson’s era: Duke Snider, 4; Pee Wee Reese, 1; Carl Erskine, 17; Preacher Roe, 28; Billy Cox, 3; Carl Furillo, 6; Junior Gilliam, 19; Gil Hodges, 14; Roy Campanella, 39; Clem Labine, 41; Don Newcombe, 36; Johnny Podres, 45; Jackie Robinson, 42!

As I watched clips of Robinson as a revolutionary rookie, I realized again how his story defined race relations for me as a teenager. To see every major league player, coach, manager, and umpire wearing Robinson’s number 42 on April 15 was a sign of hope and progress and unity that rarely appears in the modern world, and I wiped tears from my eyes.

Finally, I confess I was moved to tears (not unlike Demi Moore) when I watched the YouTube performance of a Scottish woman singing before a panel of judges in an audition for “Britain’s Got Talent” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5D5DgQi2oqA). By now, Susan Boyle has become an Internet and entertainment celebrity. What moved me to tears was the triumph of her strong and pristine voice in the face of disdain and cynicism from the audience and the judges.

Then, the honest confession by the judges of surprise, delight, and as actress Amanda Holden put it, her “complete privilege” of hearing this wonderful voice. I was witnessing a triumph of grace, and it made me cry.

In these episodes of April I’ve had to confront my own humanity, and I better understand the power in tears and the wonder of knowing that Jesus wept.

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One Response to “Power in Tears: My April Showers”

  1. Cayla Says:

    Well said.