If my dad were here to blow out the candles, we would be celebrating his 60th birthday today, February 19th, 2014. Wow. Quite honestly, it is difficult to speak of my dad without conjuring up something negative, some despairing memory. It wasn’t until he was nearing his last days on Earth that I truly began to understand where all of the despair stemmed from, why my dad held on to a harbor of deep sadness within his lonely heart. It was only then that I was able to truly forgive him, as well.
Today, I am working through my own negativities, in and out of a therapist’s office, understanding that a lot of it derives from the first man to ever make an impact on my sensitive heart. As I said, it’s challenging to think about my dad without thinking about the bigger picture, which is the tendency for daughters to choose men who are, if not just like their father, somewhat like him. For some women, this is a decent thing. For me, it is not.
With all of that being said, there’s no denying how much I loved my dad and how much I know he loved me. As I described in my past blog, Perfect Stranger, I so wished with all of my heart that I had more time to get to know him, to piece together some of that incomprehensible mystery that was James Richard Dellinger. His birthday is a stabbing reminder that I will never get that opportunity. I can only utilize the twenty-six years that I had with him and if I’m lucky, the memories his beloved friends and family members are willing to share.
Being a little girl of merely five years old, sitting on a park bench with your sobbing mother, holding her hand, consoling her in the best way a young child’s mind knows how, poses quite the significant impression. Saturday mornings in my household were not only the start of the sought after weekend but the much less anticipated, weekly intense fights between mom and dad – spine tingling fights that consisted of lots of yelling and, at times, ashtrays flying across the room, eventually crashing into a wall. I grew up faster than most of my peers, to say the least.
Fast forward about ten years to the moment I was sitting, irritable, in the driver’s seat of my mother’s car one night as she drove around aimlessly, avoiding going home because that’s where dad was. Fifteen years old, my brother already away at college in Iowa, I blurted out with grave, angered force, “When are you going to divorce him” with emphasis on the word, divorce. Little did I know that thirteen years later, I would be asking myself the exact same, insensitive but necessary, gut-wrenching question.
After my dad moved out of the house, down the street into an apartment about a half a mile away, I planned on never speaking to him again. I hated him. I’m glad that I ultimately changed my mind on that one. Because of the things my father put my family through due to a number of issues, mainly his depressing drug addiction, a giant wedge was placed between the second man to ever have a significant presence and impact on my life – my brother. He couldn’t stand that I openly spoke about my dad’s addiction to pills, couldn’t understand that I needed support. My brother and I were never extremely close but this definitely divided us even further.
It was around the time of my parents’ divorce that my mother suggested I seek anger management. I never did – I was too angry and stubborn to admit to myself, let alone anyone else, that it may have actually been helpful. Music was my outlet; my constant, unconditional support and I actually owe a lot of my knowledge about music to my dad. As an army brat that traveled and lived in every corner of the world, he once lived in San Antonio, Texas for a spell where he drummed in a band with one of the members of the rock band, Live.
Fortunately, I have matured from the sixteen-year-old angst-ridden, idealistic young lady who thought she knew it all. Due to my experiences, I now understand many different forms of addiction a lot better, to the point where my compassion and sympathy are capable of overriding my anger. I choose not to let my past dictate my present or my future with acknowledgement of why I behave the way I behave, why I make the choices that I make and the intention to better myself with that valuable knowledge.
My father allowed a lot of his past dictate his present and his future to the extent that a lot of it, I’m afraid, was subconscious. He didn’t have the same opportunities presented to him that I did and he also experienced some horrific things that I never have, namely the suicide of one of his dear brothers.
For my dad, wherever his soul may rest, on his 60th birthday, I wish for him peace in his heart, peace in his mind, boatloads of compassion and love and a greater understanding of self. I think about you all the time and I love you.
This is a video I created for my dad last year. Enjoy and thank you for reading and watching.