For those who somehow haven't heard by now, last week I lost my father to a substance overdose.
It's been a crazy week, and will likely be a crazy few weeks going forward as we continue to work and get things sold and get the finances caught up. I've spent most of the past week trying to process everything, work on my home, and most of all - figure out exactly how and why this happened.
How and Why
My father has been in a rough spot for a long time - and the events that led to my father's passing are numerous and go back many years. First and foremost, his disability. He used to be active and fit - but in his 30s became disabled with a bad back and knees, unable to be active whatsoever. This wasn't a nail in the coffin, but becomes a key component of future problems. In my early childhood, my parents divorced - and for a few years, I lived with my mother and saw dad on the weekends.
Despite the divorce being less than peaceful to say the least, it was something dad never fully got over. As we've been cleaning stuff around the house, there are things - especially in the garage - where items have been virtually untouched and undisturbed since mom last lived here nearly 15 years ago.
The first nail in the coffin was the loss of my grandmother, his mother, in 2014. She was a literal saint of a woman, and is who I attribute more of my personality traits towards in a lot of ways. I was still young and was able to recover relatively quickly from her loss, but obviously dad was less able to do so - and was crushed by her loss. A few years later, in 2017, we lost grandpa - his father. This of course also worsened things and was another nail in the coffin.
At some point after this, before he moved over to the property that grandma and grandpa used to live in, he started using illicit substances - more specifically, one known as K2 or Spice. Perhaps as a way to cope with their loss, or perhaps as a means of escaping his other problems, or both - he started on these substances and this would be the real start of his downward spiral.
As time went on, he began to change. He began involving himself with questionable women, and later became susceptible to romance scams. The money left behind by my grandparents was around 100k and by the start of this year, the entire account was drained to zero. We burned through it all within 3 years. Due to his drug use (and perhaps some other health issues), he also began wrecking vehicles. One by one, each vehicle became undriveable in one way or another. All this while he continues to send out money to fake women online, purchasing miscellaneous junk items, and as he struggles to find a purpose in life.
Eventually, we reached a point where he wrecked the van - a sort of family heirloom of a vehicle, purchased by his grandmother - a Red/Maroon Chevrolet Astro Van from 1989. We were down to zero working vehicles, and when he looked outside, all he saw was reminders of his failures. I know he was haunted by this, as he's told me about nightmares he's had where grandma and grandpa came back to visit and saw the property in a state of disrepair, the money gone, and most of the vehicles wrecked - and this was before the van was wrecked.
He had no transport. He was stuck in his home, alone except for his pets, his thoughts, and his addiction. At some point, he switched from K2 to compressed air, the kind you'd buy to dust out your computer. He would huff the chemicals within - and this is likely what increased his tendency to have wrecks and go unconscious at random times. He ultimately finally decided that these issues, his addiction, and the worsening finances and guilt were too much to bear - and so he stocked up on cans, and had one final conversation with me on August 20th. His security camera footage shows him coming outside to grab a delivery of 16 cans of compressed air on the 21st, and heading back inside - never to be seen alive again.
He likely passed away on the 23rd. I found him a day later, on the 24th - after calling his phone and having it go straight to voicemail. I got an Uber to his house, walked in, and saw a pile of empty compressed air cans, empty cigarette boxes, and my dead father with a can still in his hand.
I mentioned earlier about his disability. I think one of the key pitfalls that he ran into was a lack of purpose. He's told me about this in passing once or twice over the years, though he phrased it to make it seem as if it wasn't really serious. However, in retrospect, it's clear that he felt purposeless for a long time. What I knew beforehand and have only heard reinforced from everyone I've talked to was that I was pretty much the one thing he had going for him. When everything and everyone else failed him, he at least always had me.
However, by the time I graduated High School and he moved over there, things were a bit different. I was still reliant on him financially, but I was able to otherwise live independently, especially with a remote job that I got earlier this year. He only ever had to come over to bring groceries and check the mail. But as this year went on, things changed. He continued to make poor financial decisions, and the money continued to get worse as a result. Things kept getting worse instead of better. I think that while he was contemplating taking himself out for a while, I think it was only when he finally concluded that I'd be able to manage without him that he finally made the final decision and didn't look back.
When he wrecked the van, I took it upon myself to try and figure out how to proceed. With the help of Michael, I developed a plan to keep us going without him driving - both out of necessity, and to keep him off the road before he got himself killed. As he continued to lose giant chunks of money, he told me about it - and I got onto him about it and told him to get stuff sold to get the money back so we'd be caught up. I think he realized, either before or after those conversations, that he was beginning to financially harm me rather than help me. And I think towards the end, he realized that I was able to take care of myself and figure things out quickly. I think at that point, he realized that he could leave - and while I would of course be in pain, I'd be alright in the end. And I think that's what allowed him to finally decide to leave.
What This Means for Me (and Elaztek Studios)
As we continue on this process of selling stuff, cleaning up my place, and so on, I likely won't be doing much of anything with Blamite for a number of months. There's a lot to do, and once it's all done - I'll likely need time to properly grieve. That being said, you'll still see me in the Chaotic United Discord - probably more often than before, as during this time the last thing I want is to be sitting around alone with my thoughts.
As for me, this whole ordeal has given me new perspectives and reinforced old ones. It's reinforced my existing desire to avoid any and all drugs, alcohol, and other mind-altering and addictive substances. It's also reinforced and better contextualized a belief I've been hearing about lately in regards to aging and purpose.
You see, I'm terrified of death. As are most people - not much news there. But for me, I'm genuinely looking into having myself placed into cryonics upon my death - with the hopes of being reanimated in the future and brought back to life. However, part of that has also brought me to another discovery - having purpose in your life is key. The most common age of death is shortly after retirement. Too often, people get old, retire, and then a few years later - die, after doing a whole bunch of nothing. In areas where people often life near, to, or past 100 years old, they all still work in some capacity doing something.
Dad hasn't had a job since I was a few years old. Sure, he had me - but once I graduated and he moved out, when you look at it through that time frame - it matches up surprisingly well. He left, didn't do a whole lot, and then passed - albeit from unnatural causes, but still.
In the past, I've been angry and upset that I've had a self-motivation to create and develop projects of my own. Every time I've held a retail job, I've been miserable - as the whole time I can't think of anything else besides how much of my life I'm just wasting on meaningless garbage, and how awful it'd be to keep doing this for another 40 years. I've been angry because I'd hear other people say things like "yeah, I don't mind it because it gives me something to do" - meanwhile I've got no shortage of things to do. Even with no job whatsoever, I'd never get half of it done. However, seeing now what happens when you lack that purpose - I feel as if I should be more grateful that I have this gift. Because it really is just that - a gift. It's a gift that, providing I still keep it through the rest of my life, will allow me to maintain that sense of purpose into old age - and potentially add decades to my life.
This whole situation has also given me two new purposes as well. One, to do everything I can to understand how this happened - and avoid it. To ensure that when I have a wife and kids, that I don't end up in the same boat - I don't want my kids to find me dead at 50 from cigarettes and huffing canned air. I want to help ensure that my own kids also avoid the same mistakes and learn the same lessons. I want to avoid the disability, avoid the drugs, and maintain my sense of purpose - and be there for my kids and grandkids as long as possible.
The other purpose is to undo the mistakes my father made, and honor the legacy left by both him and my grandparents. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that the things they taught me, the things they knew, and the good will and joy they brought to the world doesn't end with their absences. I want to go out there and do the things dad did, to be there for people in the way dad was. I might even learn to drive grandpa's old Jeep, put on dad's old coat, grow out the beard - and drive around town paying a visit to his old buddies in the restored Jeep.
I want to not only make my father proud, but make my grandmother and grandfather proud - so that when I do finally die, I can go up there and tell them all about my success story and see the looks of pride on their faces.
One thing I've gone ahead and done, and will continue to expand upon once things settle down - is I've set up a memorial page for dad over on the Chaotic United website. It includes a slightly altered version of the official obituary, including some additional details that I was unable to include in the original, and fixing a couple typos I didn't notice until later. It also includes details on what his involvement in Chaotic United was, as well as a list of all the people who contributed to the GoFundMe or donated directly via PayPal.
Additionally, anyone here on the forums who has an account and contributed money will also receive the Bearded Legend award. Eventually, I plan to get a sort of gallery set up containing some images of dad from over the years, and set up similar pages/galleries for grandma and grandpa. In time, I'll be setting a dedicated page up here on Elaztek as well. It'll be the same basic idea, except it'll be designed specifically to fit within the Elaztek website.
Until then, you can check out the current memorial page here: https://chaoticunited.net/memorial/gary
Most likely, the burial will happen this Saturday - but we won't know for sure until tomorrow. Even after the burial, there's still a lot of work to be done - so don't expect me to be doing much work on the server for a while. However as I said - I'll likely be in voice chat very often. If you ever want to chat, just ping me. Odds are, unless I'm on the phone or busy somewhere, I'll jump right in.
I thank all of you for your kind words and contributions during this time.
Rest easy, dad - after the hell you were in, you deserve to finally have some fun up in heaven. Enjoy the reunion with grandma and grandpa, take care of Chico for me - and someday, I'll come up there to join you and we can all reunite together as one big happy family.