I've only ever seen my mother cry twice. Once, long ago, when I was much younger. We were holed up in a hotel, punishing my father. It was very brief, her show of emotion. When you grow up seeing your mother always in control, a display like that seems life-threatening. She has no qualms expressing other emotions however - anger, contempt, joy, excitement. But sorrow, or anything that would prompt tears, are completely off limits. Control. This is big among the women in my family.
I never saw her shed a tear when my father died. That horrible car crash almost five years ago. Not a single one. Control. She gave me instructions on how to manage the wake and her hospitalisation on top of everything else. Instructions on how to deal with family and friends. There she lay on the hospital bed - the little general commanding an army of one. I remember looking at her, during my father's interment. Her face looked so brittle. But she managed to hold on - not a single teardrop. Her eyes didn't even water. To everyone but me, she might've almost looked bored. I suppose we deal with these things in different ways. Now I wonder if it didn't drive her a little mad.
The second time she cried openly was when I left for Australia. I knew she hadn't meant for me to see her. The car was driving off and I looked back. And there she was, sobbing into her kerchief. It made me realise how old she'd gotten. She doesn't complain, despite everything she has on her plate. Her pride won't let her accept defeat. If anything, my mother is brave. And optimistic. I don't think she indulges in self-pity. I sometimes wonder if she ever lets herself feel pain. She probably does, but is a master in hiding it well.
I've only seen my father cry once, that night he ordered me to leave the house. His daughter grown up to be a defiant little thing. I think it broke his heart, that I was no longer his little girl. He had lost his daughter, and couldn't claim her back until he passed away. Pride. My parents taught me well in that respect. But something else they taught me, in their cold and silent power struggles growing up, is that control doesn't pay.