The Great Perez
April 21,1968 - December 12, 2013
One month ago today, my dear friend, Anthony Joseph Scott Perez took his last breath to this world. After being admitted to the ICU unit of the hospital on December 2, 2013 unconscious, Anthony spent all of the next ten days fighting for his life. Anthony's family very reluctantly were persuaded by the doctors to take him off life support, but without the aid of machines, Anthony passed away just 13 hours later on December 12, 2013.
There was a huge contrast in personality between Anthony and I, yet we seemed to embrace those differences and appreciate one another. Quickly we grew to love one another in spite of his fun-loving ways, and my bookish tendencies. One could almost say that Anthony was street smart, and I was book smart. Yet he still could appreciate my serious and creative nature, and I could appreciate his strong masculinity, his devotion to his friends and family, his tenacity, his easy-going & hard-working attitudes towards life, and his Latin sexiness that he couldn't escape.
But being a literature geek, I can tell you that much of literature imitates life, and the converse is true as well. One of my favorite novels of all time is the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, so it's no wonder that one of my favorite people in this life was Anthony Joseph Scott Perez who had some similarities shared by the main character of the novel I so adored.
Much like our narrator, Nick Carraway, I got to know Anthony the last year of his life. Instantly, we spoke freely and Anthony became more than a friend, he was also my confidant. We talked nearly every day on the phone about anything and everything. As a writer, I love stories, and especially a good one. Anthony lived a colorful life, and filled my quiet evenings with tales of working as a firefighter and as a 9-11 dispatcher.
Much like the Gatsby, Anthony was born of meager means to immigrants in Brooklyn, NY. Although he had a drive like the Gatsby, he was also a terribly romantic figure that liked to party. Anthony dedicated his life to serving others. He was the type of guy who'd give you the shirt off his back if he felt you were in crisis, and that you needed it.
The leading man, Jay Gatsby, doesn't really tell us about his humble beginnings until much later in the novel. True to form, Anthony's dream of having a family of his own was the first thing I learned about him. As I got to know him, I realized how much depth and contemplation had gone into trying to build his life to a level of success to have that dream realized.
Instead, Anthony was a cornerstone for a lot of his friends. He was one of the few guys I knew that seemed to understand the fundamental things that were important. I know that he was on speed dial for a lot of them, whether they needed help around the house, or just a friend to listen to them and their problems. (Myself included.)
But for me, Anthony quickly became one of my dearest friends. I still have him listed as a favorite in my phone, and I think I secretly hope my phone will ring, and he'll be there. So I pray he hears me when I call out to him, and walk through the house talking to myself like a crazy woman.
Always the life of the party, Anthony was alone at the end of the night,and he was always blatantly aware of that. We all loved him, and I think he feels that now that even though he's passed on.
He used to tease me, and say, "Oh honey, you come down here to Fort Lauderdale, you're not gonna want to leave!" Then he'd pause and say, "And I'm not going to want to let you!" I hope in some beautiful, and profound way, that even in death he never lets go of our friendship. I know I never will.
Anthony left behind a beautiful sister, his Italian mother, and his Puerto Rican father, four cats, and dozens of friends.
To view more pictures of Anthony, click on this link to: Anthony's Facebook Page.
Laurie Epps is a non-fiction author, essayist, editor, and poet living in Anderson, South Carolina. A seeker of beauty, her is dream is to travel the world one day and tell the many stories of those she meets. Columns include: Monday Morning Book Club, and Thoughtful Thursdays, a column dedicated to the fine art of poetry.