My Mother’s “Gift of Tears”

(Art by Helen Jane Hearn/

My mom cries at everything.

She called it “My Gift of Tears.” (She capitalizes it with her mouth.)

She cries at commercials, displays of affection and a solid piece of music — she always has.

I was profoundly embarrassed by it as a child. Naturally, I inherited it.

In the past three days, my tears flowed at a wedding — the entire wedding. I wept when considering the pain my friends felt when they lost their baby. Yesterday, I cried imagining myself getting the news about my dog dying. My dog is not dying any more than any of us are. Yet, tears.

The welling of feeling in my chest, the eyes filling up — it happens more frequently the older I get. I’ve learned tricks to manage it — like clearing my throat and turning my eyes skyward. They help occasionally — but in the face of a reconciliation, deep loss or commiseration, the tears still come.

My six year old cried at that same wedding. I asked her if she was okay and she replied, “I’m crying because I’m so happy for them.”

I cried even more. This time, thanks to pride. I am proud of My Gift of Tears. From mother to daughter, vulnerabilities made visible, these sympathies passed on.

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4 Responses

  1. MeaganFrancis

    I love this! My mom was also a no-holds-barred crier and it embarrassed me so much that I spent years working on the practice of Showing No Emotion. It was easier when I was younger and was actually able to sort of disengage myself from emotion when out in public, but the older I get the more I stink at it – or maybe I just no longer care what people think and would rather allow myself the relief and humanity of giving into the tears? So the tears, they come. Next time we are at the same conference let’s sit together at one of the keynotes and then we can just cry and laugh at ourselves and each other and cry even harder 🙂

  2. Valerie Brett

    My girls turn to me when watching Disney TV ! And say mommy, are you going to cry now? But secretly, I think they love it.

  3. The Spohrs Are Multiplying… Surfing Sunday 8.03

    […] Jane has a way with words. This post about her mother’s gift of tears is […]

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    […] 1. The Gift of Tears is on my friend Margit’s brilliant site TueNight. (It’s like we’re blogging in 2002, but with an editor this time.) […]


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