James Joseph DeNicola 1944 – 2017

My biological father died today.  I have been searching around this room trying to locate my feelings as if they were stashed under this pile of books on my desk.  The truth is I don’t know how to feel, which in turn keeps me searching.  I have only seen Jimmy three or four times since I was 12, which is part of the reason I don’t know where to find my feelings.  My childhood was a messy one, words like Devil worship, haunted house, drugs, drinking, spiritual searches were thrown around all the time, it was the 70’s after all.

These are things I remember about him; he was an alcoholic and smoked a crazy amount of cigarettes.  He was an amazing photographer, and I sometimes like to think my son somehow got some of his talents. I remember going into the basement with him, where he had his dark room, and he would show me how to develop the pictures he had taken.  I remember him sleeping on the couch after he came home from work and I was always amazed how his body was the full length of the couch. I remember one time he woke me up in what seemed like the middle of the night and the two of us drove into the city to watch the NYC Marathon. I remember seeing the runners, and I remember walking around some quaint village and stopping into a kite store and buying a kite. I remember the summers where he would lay on a lawn chair in the backyard while my two sisters and I played on the swing set while Crosby, Stills, and Nash played on the radio. I remember one day he brought home a box and in that box, there was a kitten that he had found at work. I remember going to work with him on days he was in the “office, ” and I remember playing on the bulldozers.  I remember the smell of the yard, a mix of diesel oil, dirt and sweat and I remember my grandfather and uncles all there while my sisters and I ran up and down the hallway.

That is all I remember, the total sum of all my memories of Jimmy in one long paragraph. I don’t remember any real conversations.  I don’t remember any yelling. I just remember my mother telling us to get in the car and us driving somewhere because she didn’t want us to be home when he got all his stuff. That’s how I remember finding out my parents were getting divorced. Somewhere among all of it I would like to think he loved me, loved my sisters he just didn’t know how to show it.

When my mother remarried I remembering referring to Jimmy as my uncle because it was all just too confusing for me.  I was the only one I knew whose parents were divorced. Shortly after my mother remarried we moved from Long Island to Upstate and eventually, we lost touch. He would enter the corners of my mind now and then, but for a long while, he just stayed safely tucked away. I thought about him each time I got married and even sent him an invitation to the first one, that went unanswered. I thought about him when I had my son and even went to visit him so he could meet his first and only grandchild at the time. That picture is now 26 years old, and Jimmy is roughly the same age as I am now. But now he’s gone, and I feel like there are things I wish I said to him, things I wish we could have talked about. I wish he could have seen the photographer that little baby turned into and they could talk shop and compared cameras. I wish he could have met my daughter.

But now he’s gone, and I am searching for some feelings, any feelings, and as I look around this room and the tears start to flow.

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22 Replies to “James Joseph DeNicola 1944 – 2017”

  1. Gina,
    I know how it feels to lose your dad and not know how to feel. I know how much I was loved by my mom and the rest of my family, but I spent a little time everyday wondering if my dad loved me. The alcohol had such a hold on him that I wasn’t sure if I should be happy, relieved, sad, or angry that he was gone. As the years have passed I have realized that when I think of him now I hear myself saying things like “Dad would love to see me playing golf” Dad would have loved Mike, they are so much alike”. Some how I I now know he loved me and the best he could. I hope that you find the peace you need when you think of Uncle Jimmy. There is not a single doubt in my mind that he loved you and your sisters. I also believe that he is watching Raymond and sharing his love of photography with him. Love you 😘 Gina

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you Lora for your kind words. I’m sure he is having a ball up there with Uncle Rich and your dad.

  2. Rickie Crone says: Reply

    So sincerely sorry to hear of your loss, Gina and I know it’s hard on you girls not really knowing how you feel about your dad! My heart goes out to you because it is still a loss! I can’t even imagine because this last week I came home and my dad had let himself into my house and fixed my toilet that ran all the time and was causing huge water bills! I don’t know what it’s like not to have a strong encouraging family! Any way just wanted to tell you I love and my prayers are with you!
    Love Rickie💔💔

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you Rickie for your kind words. I’m sure he is at peace now and looks out for me and my sisters.

  3. Janet Jackson says: Reply

    Oh Gina. When I think of all that never would have been if he had never been—- I celebrate your dad because he brought us you!! He must have been sweet and kind and talented and gentle. He is in you and in your beautiful, creative , talented and loving children. He lives because you live. Love & peace. Janet

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      My sweet Janet, thank you for these kind words. I’m sure he is at peace and is look out for me and the kids. xoxo

  4. Gina, that was a beautiful writeup. I’m so sorry for your loss. You were probably too young to remember the early years, but I spent lots of fun times with your mom, dad, and you girls. He was such a sweet, happy, and fun guy before he got involved in the drugs. It was such a shame. I have many fond memories. I’m sorry that he wasn’t there for you girls in the later years, but I know he loved all of you. My prayers go out to you and your sisters. Love cousin Joan

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind words, it makes me feel a little better knowing he is at peace now.

  5. Gina I was sorry to hear about Jimmy. My prayers go out to you and your family. No matter how many times you saw him – 10 or 100 – never doubt that he loved you.

    Aunt Cookie

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you so much Aunt Cookie, it helps thinking that he is at peace now.

  6. Gina,
    I’m so sadden to hear of Jimmy’s passing. I have fond memories of him and your early family years. When things went awry with your parents marriage, Jimmy left our lives but never our hearts. To know him was to love him. There was something special about your dad. I remember the fabulous toys he bought for you girls and I think that was because he was a child at heart. I know you all went through some hard times as Jimmy changed but be assured that he loved you girls. I only wish he could have communicate that better to you. I pray that you find peace. Love you, Aunt Maria

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you so much Aunt Maria for your kind words. It helps knowing he is at peace and is looking out for me and my sisters.

  7. My parents were never married, and my relationship with my Dad was complicated. So when he passed, it was a very confusing time for me also. I understand. xo

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thanks Ronnie, sometimes it helps to know that I’m not alone in the confusion.

  8. Joe Trupiano says: Reply

    I am so sorry to hear of this. Jimmy had many great qualities. Something just went wrong somewhere BUT he was good. A good person at heart. A memory that always sticks in my head was by my aunt Jenny’s house. I was outside by the curb and around the corner came Jimmy and your mom in his yellow TR 3 just scooting along. In it were two very happy, smiling and enjoying the moment people aboard…your mom and Jimmy! Such a shame. I feel for you Gina.

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thanks you Uncle Joseph for the memories. It helps to think he is at peace now.

  9. Thank you for sharing this Gina. Absence is absence wether you have access to your parents or not. My parents also divorced which happened when I was 5. Physically they were accessible but none the less absent to me in ever way possible. It is obvious to me what your father’s absence gave you was more reason to be the constant in your little chicken’s lives. You have done well. I will be thinking of you during this most confusing time and pray you find the answers your heart is seeking.

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you for your kind words Robin. It does help to think he is at peace now.

  10. Gina dear. Your words are not confusing to me. Much of your description is how I too remember him. I don’t know what to say except I really care about you as you are processing his death. I’m here for you.

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you so much Joyce for your kind words. I’ve processed his death as much as I can and it gives me solace knowing he is a peace now.

  11. Hermes Mendez says: Reply

    Wow Gina. I don’t know what to say. I am sorry for your loss but on the other hand I cannot express how happy I am that you are part of our family. I love you very much and cannot imagine how life you be without you!!❤❤❤

    1. heartwritten says: Reply

      Thank you so much Hermes for your kind kind words. Thank you for opening your arms to me and my sisters just like we belong <3

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