There was a scene in Monday night’s ‘Dallas’ episode–the one with J.R.’s funeral–where Sue Ellen gives one of several eulogies at his funeral. I won’t spoil the scene, and her acting certainly portrays it more justly than I could describe it in words…please view the 3-minute scene *here* if you’re so inclined. But I did want to share verbatim what J.R. wrote in his farewell letter to Sue Ellen, his ex-wifeX2. She read the letter during her eulogy:
My dearest Sue Ellen,
Old age has a way of humbling men. For me to apologize now for all the wrongs I’ve done you would take up all the time I’ve got left. So I’m hoping it’ll suffice for me to say that I was never worthy of you. That I loved you the moment I saw you. That I love you today more than I ever did. It is my greatest hope in life to earn a second chance with you. So what do you say–when I get back to Dallas, will you have dinner with me?
I’ve shared this on Facebook already, but I actually had to pause the episode when she finished reading the letter (and consequently her eulogy) and just let the tears flow (and the sobbing run its ugly, snotty course). Sure, I’ve been attached to these fictional characters for as long as I can remember. Our babysitter Julie used to let me stay up with her and watch ‘Dallas’ on Friday nights, but only if I “promised not to tell my parents.” (Disclaimer: I know for a fact this only happened a few times, as my parents didn’t go out very many Friday nights at all. But when they did, I was watching ‘Dallas’ at age 4 or 5!) Once I went off to college and had access to cable for the first time, I was glued to TNN watching repeats of the show. And then I moved home and watched it religiously before I went to work at the post office in the afternoons. All that to say that after 35 years of this show being on and off the air–and who is seriously lucky enough to have their favourite show ever return/rebooted after a 14-year hiatus, counting the reunion specials they produced–I was beside myself to see the main character from the show being buried.
But my emotions went deeper than that. J.R. died having been cut out the massive Ewing will, ending up alone and overcoming estrangement from the family, and living in a spare bedroom at South Fork (the estate his mother had cut him out of in the will because of his personal behaviour and business choices over the years). Sue Ellen, who’d been a raging alcoholic most of both of their marriages, ended 17 years of sobriety when she read the above letter alone the night before his funeral, with the aid of some handily placed Bourbon and Branch (J.R.’s drink of choice) in his humble spare bedroom. I can certainly relate to that; relapses are often brutal and centre around emotional times. Truth be told, I’ve had several drinks since my very, very ugly Christmas relapse. The difference being that after reading the entire AA ‘Big Book’, I now know when enough is enough. Reading all 500 or so pages of that book takes the “fun” (big quotes) out of drinking to get drunk, and/or drinking to avoid emotions/feelings/responsibilities. I’ve told a few people this already, but I know good and well I’ll never be a “normal drinker.” I’m not attempting to pass myself off as such, nor do I pretend to proclaim that it’s okay for me to drink. Because it’s not; I know myself and my mental health well enough to know that even one drink camouflages reality for me. But isn’t that why everyone drinks, to escape reality for a moment or so? That’s not a rhetorical question; the answer is yes.
I’ll say this, and then I’m done for this week’s blog/pop culture confessional. I have two good friends in this town, and both of them have serious boyfriends. Being on the verge of turning 33 (which for some reason seems much, much older than 32), I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ending up alone. And living in a rented, spare bedroom. And–blah, blah, forget about being cut out of the will–I want to grow old and/or end up happy and fulfilled. This earthly life is hard pressed to bring us joy, for only God can bring that, but we can find happiness via our work, our relationships, and our state of mind. At the end of this life and into the next, we only have our heart and soul to show for all emotional turmoil we’ve put ourselves through. And what we’ve put others through, of course. To reiterate: Neither J.R. nor Sue Ellen’s character are perfect. But the human beings–Larry Hagman and Linda Gray–are saints in my eyes. I’ve learned more about the ups and downs of life from this show than any other piece of media the last 30 years. I continue to learn, I should say. Both of them are more than deserving of Emmy nominations this year. But more than forgettable awards, I value that they let their true emotions shine through in their timeless performances, including Larry Hagman all the way through his final scene (which had to be spliced together from existing footage and voice clips).
Other than the drama of ‘Dallas’ being on the forefront of my mind, life is great. I noticed in a few of the pictures from the trip I took to Long Beach the last couple of days, my hair is definitely lighter around my temples. And I might’ve spotted a couple of grey hairs in the hotel bathroom mirror yesterday morning. The good news? I’ve always wanted to reclaim the lighter hair of my youth, and I’ve definitely earned the grey hairs. The best news? Perhaps I can transition to ash blonde like I tried to do when I was 19 (but miserably failed by having my hair bleached). Blonde jokes aside, it surprises me every. single. day that I’m where I’m at in my life at this age. Am I happy? Yes. Could I be happier? Sure. Will you have dinner with me? Well, only you can answer that. And be honest…I can handle the truth. I’m not dead yet.