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[personal profile] paganiwitch
So to start this entry, I pose a question the the people of the net. The question is this, "What's the most jacked-up way you have found out someone close to you has died?"

I ask this most unusual question because yesterday I found out my dad died, and I found out in a very crappy way. So I figured I'd ask for other people's experiences to get some perspective. Right now I can't think of a worse way to find out that news, but it's because my grief is too fresh.

I'm sure by now you're wondering how I was notified. Was it institutional staff? Nope. Did I see it on the news? Nope. I sent him a Christmas card.

Well, every year I'm notoriously late in sending my holiday cards out, and this last holiday season was no exception, although for me the 23rd isn't bad. Had i sent that card out a few days earlier, my dad would have gotten it. But that's not what the fates had in store. I sent it late, and it made the rounds until last Friday, (leap year) February 29th. The Christmas card I sent to my dad was returned to me with Unable to forward", along with "Deceased" written on it. That's how I found my dad had passed, my Christmas card to him was returned to me.

Pretty jacked-up, huh? And the kicker, it turns out he died alone, on Christmas day. If I was a Christian, I'd be pissed. The last anyone saw of my dad, he was leaving a present for an elderly neighbor.

Now I'm left with what to do with the X-mas card. I can't seem to bring myself to get rid of it, probably the "packrat" gene I got from my mom. I feel like someone should hear what my last words to my dad were, so here's what I wrote in the card:

I hope this letter finds you in good health and good spirits. I haven't heard from you in a while, I hope you're doing alright. Life goes on in here, one day at a time. From what I hear, JaLynn should have her baby any day now, but I haven't talked to her in some time. I'm sure you already heard, but Aaron had his appendix removed, and he's fine. I talked to him the other day, and he was his usual self. I hope your holiday season is happy and fruitful. I wanted to wish you Yule Tide greetings, and I hope to hear from you soon. I miss you and I love you dad.

Love Always, Your Son, Adam

I think my dad wanted me to know what had happened. The phone system is pretty basic in here. It's all collect calls, first you press "one" for instructions in English, then you dial the area code and the number you're calling. The instructions ask you to say your name, then you wait a moment and it says "Please hold." From there it connects you to your called number. Last night everyone before me on the phone had no problems with it.

I got on and had intended to call my grandmother. I dialed her home number, but the recording never gave the "Please hold", therefore never connected the call. I tried three times, all the same result. I tried her office, which was too late for her to be there, and got her answering machine. I then decided to call my mom, although I try to space those calls out so i don't run up her phone bill. I got through with no problems, and thus found out about my dad's fate.

Okay, I'm probably getting a little "emo" here. My dad always stood by me throughout my life. He took on the role of my dad, and even though he didn't always live with me, or even in the same city, I never felt like he wasn't there for me. He was always a phone call away. When i was charged with my crimes, he came to see me and told me even if I had done it, I was still his son and always will be. He never once treated me like a disappointment, even though I have utterly and completely failed him as a son.

Most of you don't know how I ended up here, and I'll probably share more later down the road, but that night my family was threatened and I had to go along with a stupid plan. I came into it after most of the bad stuff happened, but I should have been stronger that night, I should have been smarter in choosing my friends in the first place. My dad taught me those things all throughout my life, but I failed in his life lessons when it counted in my life. (To be fair to my mom, she taught me the same things and I equally failed her as well.) Even with all that, my dad never questioned my story, never doubted I got railroaded at my trial, never stopped believing in me.

I don't know if anyone wrote a eulogy for my dad, it seems like I've wrote too many lately, but someone should write something for my dad, he deserves that much. So here goes...

Tom Gray, born Thomas Guerrero, entered my life when I was three years old. A native of Boston, he made his way out here to California to make a life for himself. Although his marriage to my mother didn't work out, he never shied away from being my dad. He knew I needed someone to call "Dad", and he wanted a son, so it was a win-win for all. Plus, although he never told her this (to my knowledge), I think he wanted a connection to my mom.** He often told me he regretted the marriage to my mom ending, and I truly believe my mom was the love of his life, although he'd never admit that to her.**

My dad was far from perfect, as anyone who knew him can tell you, but he had a good heart and always tried to do good. I know there were bad times, but I can't remember any of them. What i do remember is all the times he took me miniature golfing, all the talks and advise he gave me. His last act on this earth was to give an elederly neighbor a present for Christmas. That was the type of man he was, and that's how I'll remember him.

Tom was opinionated, that's for sure. He had a loud, dominating voice, but it had a warmth that would draw you in instantly. You could be completely opposed to his opinion, yet he had the ability to draw you in and listen to his side. He was great with people, and loved interacting with them. He was fiercely loyal to his friends, and would help them in any way he could.

My dad had the worst luck when it came to cars I've ever seen. Every car he owned, be it new or used, would fall apart completely within months after he purchased it.

Much of Tom's life was a mystery to me. I always felt I'd have more time to learn about him, but that wasn't meant to be. I know he loved his brothers, and missed them terribly. Tom is survived by two children, myself as well as a daughter, Heather, from a distant relationship. Heather was never very involved with Tom's life, but who's choice that was, I don't know. I don't know what became of her, but where ever she is, I hope she has fond memories of Tom.

As for me, I will miss my dad for the rest of my life. I couldn't have asked for a better man to call my dad, and I will always be grateful for his guidance, his wisdom, his company, and for his unconditional love. I know that whatever plane he exists on now, he loves me and knows I love him with all my heart. He will forever be my dad, as I will always be his son.

Rest now dad, your fight on earth is done. I will see you again when I cross over, until then know that I love you and you'll always be in my heart.

** Both were well-known to me.


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January 2013

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