Sentimental Old Fools

My Dad was not a sentimental man.   Don’t get me wrong … he was a loving husband and father and his love of family showed through in everything he did.   But he wasn’t given to nostalgia or romanticizing about his past.   I don’t remember his crying over memories, good or bad while I was growing up.  That changed as he rolled into his mid-seventies, the very territory I am exploring right now.  He would tear up at the memory of my Mom, who’d passed some years ago.  He’d choke up thinking about his children taking care of him as he aged or when someone said something nice about him.  At one point, my sister and I found a Veteran’s Aid program that allowed him to stay in his assisted living home.  At first he said he didn’t want a handout but when I told him he’d earned it through his military service in Italy during World War II, he cried.

And here I am at 76, walking the same sentimental road.  Having inherited much of my Mom’s natural sentimentality, I get the weepies even more than my Dad did.  I tear up when I look at pictures of my grandkids and when I think about my wife’s bravery in dealing with cancer treatments.  I not only tear up at love songs from our courtship, I can find myself dripping over a gorgeous jazz guitar solo, a violin concerto or a scene from a movie I love.  Beautiful scenes, whether in art or nature can leave me verklempt.  Yes, there’s joy in the moment but frequently also a tinge of sadness that life is slipping by so fast … the tears that poignant mix often known as melancholy.   I wonder … have I become a Sentimental Old Fool?

Last night, I watched a comedy special on Amazon Prime by Australian comedian, Alice Fraser.  The show, titled Savage, is described by The Guardian as artful comedy from private trauma.  It lives up to its billing, mixing touching humor with the story of Fraser’s years taking care of her mother, first through Multiple Sclerosis, then cancer which finally took her life.  I highly recommended it with the caution that by the end you’ll be crying if you have an iota of sentimentality.   At one point during her routine, she said, We don’t leave enough time for sadness in our lives.  Yes!!! I thought.  For much of my life I avoided sadness at all costs, willing to suffer anger, fear or depression instead.   We try so hard to be TV commercial happy while the sadness crystalizes inside us and keeps us from truly feeling joy.  I’ve discovered, at this ripe age, that after my unscheduled cries are over, I feel better, a lesson I’m sure my Dad learned before me.  We aren’t Sentimental Old Fools, we’re just sentimental old guys, navigating old age as best we can.

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2 Comments on “Sentimental Old Fools”

  1. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    At 72 I’m with you on this!

  2. Tee Says:

    Thanks for the tip about The Guardian. I’m definitely interested.

    I think many of us were raised in generations that discouraged showing too much of any emotion. I too find as I grow older that I’m more willing to show my love, happiness, and sadness. It’s what we’re here for. To experience it all, to share it all, including the emotions.

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