Two days after my mother remarried, my birth father was killed in an automobile accident, the result of his alcoholism.
Born at home on March 22, 1942, Danny Lee Jolliff was the second child born to William Lee Montgomery and Rosemary nee Richardson Jolliff. I’m sure the joy that surrounded his birth overshadowed the life horrors that were to shroud his life.
As the years have passed, it’s become easier to appreciate the man without always associating his memory with the alcoholism that ruled, and ruined his life. Mother and I have often recounted the happier times, the laughter, the wonderful vacations, and sadly, the abuse and shaming he received from his own mother whom he adored.
I always remind myself that he was not raised with the life tools that were necessary to deal with the challenges of life and specifically, to battle the demonic rages of alcoholism that held him prisoner through three previous genetic generations.
There will always be the what ifs but thirty-three years later even they’ve become blurred with he did the best he could.
My father had a great capacity to love, a genuine affection for all, especially those more life-burdened, and a sharp, sarcastic wit that are all my perpetual inheritances. Mother and I both agree he was a good father, a good man. The alcohol, sadly, triggered an inner evil that was terrifying: the gentle, laughing heart was horribly obscured by an abusive monster.
The only photographs I have of my father are his high school senior portrait and a clip of his wedding day.
I like remembering him with these images because this is the Danny Jolliff I knew before the shadows permanently fell.
There are no more what ifs.
Life has moved on. I’ve carried with me his ability to love, serve others, share a passion for history, and to laugh.
I also learned from him the art of sharing humorous stories to make the world around me laugh. It’s important for me to see others laughing. It was important to him because I believe it helped him to momentarily forget his lifelong imprisonment of an illness that crippled his family, his life, and sadly, his spirit.
Continue with your peaceful rest, Dad.