Idol - 1970 - Age 1
At some stage, a person has to sit down and look at the past. Where did he come from and what paths did he take in life. How did he become the person that he is now? Some call it a midlife crisis. I call it a midlife reflection.
This is a story about me. I have considered doing what others have done when they write their memoirs. I can continue to deny rumours that I have in the past. I could make the memoir a glossy account of my talents and achievements. I could polish the star above my head. This would be a waste of time and serve no purpose. I need to include the truth, especially where it hurt or confused me. I need to be honest especially when I made mistakes that were embarrassing or hurt others.
This story starts before me. It starts with my parents that were married in 1955. Dad met mom at the cinema. He would tell us the story that she would talk about and the film and its stars. Dad was surprised at how much gossip mom knew. I wondered how they ever fell in love, as Dad was very conservative and serious. Mom lived in her dream world, which was full of Hollywood stars and movies. It was as if life was a Hollywood film, where she was the star! Despite the differences, Mom and Dad got married. If you want my opinion, I will say that they were deeply in love. This proves the old saying that opposites attract.
Dad came from a very Catholic family and his faith was very sincere. As I said he was a very strict and serious man that had no humour. His one wish was to own a business. My earliest memories of my Dad was of someone bitter and sad. This was because he had to work in so many different shops for an average wage. He tried several times in opening his shops, but they always went bankrupt. Dad could never make them a success and he considered himself a failure. Despite that our family were middle-classed, Dad wanted us to live a better life. Mom was partly to blame for this, as she thought she should sing like a Hollywood star.
I have two older brothers, Cameron and Ronny. They were normal boys and mom and Dad loved them. While Dad wanted them to be good at school and prepare to be good citizens and Catholics, Mom wanted them to develop their talents. The problem with my brothers is that they did not have any outstanding talents. They liked sports but had no special talent here. This must have been frustrating for mom and a blessing for Dad. Dad was proud of my brothers and knew they would succeed in life. Mom wanted her children to be special. Mom wanted others to think that they were special.
Many thought that mom was a crazy woman. She was indeed fanatical about celebrities and their lifestyle and achievements. I think that one had to look deeper into moms past. Her mother was a stage mom and wanted her child to be a star. So moms childhood was her mother’s ambitions for her fame. It meant that mom had to go to one audition after another. It meant dance lessons, singing lessons and acting classes. My mom did not have a childhood. She was always busy trying to be famous, and this was always met with a negative experience.
Mom was not crazy. She raised us in the only way she knew.
Mom never became famous. However, she was addicted to the thought of being famous. Maybe she married Dad because she thought he would own a chain of shops and be a famous businessman. When you understand how my mom thought, you can also understand why she was disappointed with my Dad, and why she did not have a very close relationship with my brothers.
It is worth mentioning that Mom was a Shirley Temple fan. Shirley was a child star in the 1930s and the 1940s. She had many hit films and her talent and smile charmed the whole world. There were more pictures taken of Shirley than any other person at the time. Mom admired Shirley Temple and her achievements. She often said that Shirley Temple was a role model and an inspiration.
So you can imagine how happy Mom was when she heard that she was pregnant with me. She told all her friends that she was sure that I would be a girl and I would be just as famous as Shirley Temple. Despite Dad begging to wait, mom spent a lot of money on a girls nursery and the best baby clothes a baby could ever want. Dad warned mom that statistically speaking, I would be a boy. Mom would not listen to him. She wanted a girl and life is like movies, they always have good endings.
So I was born in 1969. The world was changing. It was the dawn of the information age. The flower generation was protesting against social norms and wanted a better society with peace, love and tolerance. It was a time of protest. People hate the Vietnam war and people did not want politics as usual. Drugs and escape were now plaguing the generation, as they tried to search for love and happiness. The black and white society of Shirley Temple was replaced by rainbow colours.
Mom was told that I was a boy and she refused to believe this. She went as far as to say that I was switched with her real daughter. After she told the nurse this, mom refused to speak and locked herself in her bedroom. She refused to speak or see anyone, and this was especially me.
While mom was locked in her room. Granny took care of me. She doted over me and done what she could Dad would nod his head as he saw me. She dressed me in the girl clothes that mom got me. She thought it would be a waste of money buying me boy clothes. I am also told that she treated me as a girl and even called me a princess.
Dad was very calm about the fact that I was dressed as a girl and even treated like a girl. He could have insisted that granny looked in the old boxes in the attic and find my brothers clothes. To be honest, Dad had a lot more to worry about than which clothes I wore. He was worried about moms depression and that she could not accept that I was a girl. I was not going to be a modern version of Shirley Temple.
I noticed none of this. Granny said I spent my first year sleeping and eating.
I was over a year old before I was baptised. This was because of Moms depression. Dad could wait no longer as he was a devout Catholic. A day was set and he told Granny that we had to do it without mom.
Everyone was surprised when Mom was dressed up and smiling for the day. I slept through the whole baptism and did not notice when everyone was shocked when the priest told the world my name...
Dakota Shirley Sullivan
To be continued