"I didn't take your cigarettes!" I half yelled rudely.
"Okay, whatever..." said the deep, grouchy voice I knew too
"OK well I'm going." I said dryly.
And with the click of the telephone I turned away and headed off to be
with some friends.
Moments before I had learned that my mother, sister, brother, and
step-father were leaving to go on vacation without me. In a terrible
fit of jealousy, I let my displeasure be known. I went on and on about
how messed up it was I was not invited and how my family did not love
me. Just on and on. This rode well into the next day.
July 16,1999 is my step-father's 50th birthday. It was going to be
his first birthday party ever. My mother had told me two or three
times, so I was well aware. I had planned to be there at my dad's first
birthday party, (even though every since I had hit adolescence, we
never seen eye to eye and fought constantly) but in the "situation" I
thought he had put me in and in my moment of pure selfishness and
resentfulness, I decided to say I'd show and just not go.
All the better, my friend called and asked me to go with her to
her family reunion ... a perfect excuse!
So at about 10 that night I called home collect. It was busy so I left
a collect message for later delivery.
"Mom I left your shorts at Aunt Sheila's. If you want them before you
leave on vacation tomorrow, better go get em'."
No I love you.
No be careful.
No tell dad happy birthday.
All the way to Ohio with my friend, I bad mouthed him and my mom for
marrying him. I felt so angry and left out. I blamed it all on him. It
was always Denny's fault. I just knew he had been the one to suggest not
taking me. We never got along it seemed.
Eventually we arrived at our destination and tucked in for the night. I
never thought twice about my family. Never one thought of all the fun
they were probably having at Denny's birthday party. Not once about the
excitement they all had for leaving on vacation tomorrow. Just
The next morning after I had got ready, my friend and her family hit
the road to meet the rest of them at an all day reunion. We had stopped
at K-mart. One of Kelly's relatives pulled up to her car.
"Jara, you need to call home something bad happened." she had said.
"What," I asked, "who?"
"Your step-dad had a heart attack or something." she replied.
"Is he OK?" I said quietly, as I began to shake.
"I do not know, you'll have to call." and she drove away.
I got out of the car, headed towards a nearby telephone booth. I dialled
collect. My mom's voice came over the line.
"Jara..." mom said meekly.
"Mom what happened, are you OK?" I asked.
"Denny's dead ... come home, please Jara, come home."
"OK mom, I'll be there," I said quietly, "I love you."
My legs were rubber, I couldn't talk, tears were flooding my eyes and
running down my face.
That night at his birthday party, after the guests had left, Denny had
suffered a massive heart attack. It was caused from emphysema and heart
disease, that even he never knew about. He died in my mother's arms.
You see, I never made peace with Denny I never took the time to show
how really important to me he was. I never took the time to tell him he
was my Daddy.
He had been there when my biological dad hadn't. He was the one who
clothed, fed, and sheltered me as long as I can remember. He was the
one that rubbed my belly for hours when I was home sick from school. He
was the one who helped me move into my first apartment. He was the one
that tried till his death bed to give me values and responsibility. He
was the one man in my life I knew that would love me unconditionally. I
never told him how much all that meant to me. I never told him that he
was my daddy.
After all this, I've learned it so important not to let things go
unsaid, no matter how minor or major.
Even though I know Denny knew I loved him, I would feel so much better
knowing for sure he knew because I hurt him in so many ways. And you see,
he never complained.