A Passage of Birds, Lake Effect 20, Spring 2016
"When Robert Capa snapped his “Falling Soldier” photo in 1936 of a man shot in the Spanish Civil War, it was a controversial (before it was revealed fake) because a person was dying before our eyes. When the men came back from war, they were expected not to talk, to get on with their lives and maintain equanimity. Vulnerability, the allowance that something had shattered them was unacceptable. “Therapy” wasn’t a term fixed into our nomenclature, though “Toughness” was.
"We’ve made progress in the twenty-first century. We accept that people have counselors, Wounded Warrior Projects, terms for the terrors and horrors of bloody death and ways to heal. We have support groups and rights watches. This isn’t to say we can’t go further, but what I want to ask here is how does a young boy hold in his mind the disparate thoughts, that masculinity is toughness as still taught by media and society, and the lesson, by necessity that what it means to be human is frailty?
"So I search and search, while we hold this dying bird, for an answer to how much I should impart onto my nephew — the monkey brain inside me looking for patterns and clues — like my dad's roommates searched for the zillionth puzzle piece on the desk-sized Titanic. I want to say to Oliver, that Grandpa learned humility in the end, that he accepted his place and that there was nothing unmanly about being cared for at an old age. But the former wouldn’t be true as the latter surely is."