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posted Friday, January 7, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 01

Letters
GOODBYE, BUZZ

I just found out a few days ago that my father, Calvin "Buzz Flowers" Callaway, passed away earlier this month (7/8/1937-12/6/2010). He was a complicated man and although in private he could be an angry and even abusive person at times, he also had a kind, sensitive heart and would literally give you the shirt off his back. The circumstances regarding his death are still a mystery to me. We became estranged last spring when I had tried to improve his living situation due to his failing health. He refused any help and after a social worker got involved and thought everything was okay, I opted not to stay in contact rather than be party to what was happening between him and his partner. The last time I spoke to him was in June.

On Wednesday morning, I received two things in the mail. One was a manila envelope from his partner that contained a copy of his death certificate along with some information about my being the beneficiary for his teacher's retirement account. The other was a certified letter that contained a new copy of his will that specifically stated that I was to get nothing from his estate. This was how I learned that he had died. No phone call. No note. Nothing but the empty aftermath. The death certificate stated that he had fallen and broken some ribs a few weeks before his death, and this led to aspiration pneumonia.

Needless to say, I've been going through a gamut of emotion lately. Sadness, anger, fear, confusion. I question whether I should have done something differently, or if that would have actually changed anything. Those close to me have told me that I had already tried to help him and there wasn't anything else I could have done. I'm sad that he had to die this way, in pain and likely alone. I don't know if his partner was with him at the hospice or not. I'd like to believe he was, but I have my doubts. And yet, given what I know about my father's life with a difficult childhood and lifelong struggle with bipolar disorder, I'm not entirely surprised that this is how things panned out.

What I do know is that he loved to write, and he loved having his letters published in the SGN. I have a file folder full of poems, letters, and clippings that he would send to me. And I know that as lonely as he felt, he was cared about by many people in the Gay community. I felt it was important to write this letter and let those people whose lives he touched know that, while he is gone, his spirit lives on through his words. Thank you for caring about him and giving him an outlet that was so meaningful.

I miss you, Dad.

Anthony Callaway



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