Mariah Carey‘s relationship with her family has been complicated, to say the least. Her 2020 memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey explores some of the Grammy-winning singer’s most difficult family secrets, as well as her relationship with her mother and father.
Mariah Carey had a complex relationship with her father Alfred Roy Carey
Carey’s parents, Patricia and Alfred, divorced when she was just three years old, and she was primarily raised by her mother. Still, Carey looks back fondly on the Sundays they spent together and the relationship — distant as it was — that they had.
Carey was busy recording her album Charmbracelet in Italy when her father called her and informed her that he was in the hospital and the prognosis didn’t look good. “I was shocked,” she recalled in her 2020 memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey. “My strong, invincible father? It was like a blow to the head — quick, sharp, and disorienting.”
Mariah Carey and Alfred Roy Carey made amends at the end of his life
After arriving at her father’s bedside, Carey learned that Alfred had a rare form of bile-duct cancer. “It was more than symbolic to me,” Carey remembered. “A healthy man develops a cancer that poisons the part of his body that absorbs and washes away waste. My father held so much inside and had little opportunity to flush out all the bitterness he’d consumed.”
Carey continued to visit her father, but his treatments weren’t working, and his cancer was worsening. “It was clear there was nothing to be done to stop the toxic disease wreaking havoc in his body,” she said. “It was almost his time. We knew our time together on this earth was limited, so my father and I got down to the business of talking things through. His sickness made our healing urgent. This was the first time I revealed to him (or any family member) my struggles growing up.”
After his death, Carey found a collection of magazine and newspaper clippings about her that he had been keeping throughout her entire career.
Mariah Carey recreated her father’s funeral in the ‘Through the Rain’ music video
Carey’s father wasn’t particularly faithful to one religion, and she chose to have his funeral at the Unitarian Universalist fellowship that he had attended for several years.
“I was determined to bring church to the service,” Carey said of his funeral. “He was too often unwelcomed in his life because he was the only Black man in too many places, so I was determined he would not be the only Black person present when we saw him out of this life.”
Sunflowers were his favorite flower — a love he shared with his Grammy-winning daughter. She decked out the place with the bright yellow flowers, and it later served as inspiration for her own career.
“He was to have a spiritual send-off,” she said. “I transformed the church into a glorious garden of sunflowers (which I later recreated in the “Through the Rain” video).”
Carey’s 2002 video for “Through the Rain” was based on the story of her parents’ romance and how she came to be, and even featured photographs of Alfred Roy and Patricia when they were a young couple. “Sunflowers For Alfred Roy,” another song on the Charmbracelet album, was dedicated to his memory.