He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
When I met my wife 7 years ago, I can still remember us going out for the first time, and her being on her phone at least 6 times while we were walking around at Gateway shopping centre. At the time I got extremely jealous, however, she at that point made it very clear to me that her dad will always come first, no matter what, and to accept her, he will be part of our lives. Her mom passed away in 2003, after suffering from MS for 4 years, and he was all she had left.
I still remember moving to the farm at the end of that year, and everyday at 16:00, Alex will come home and we would spend an hour in the kitchen making dinner, talking about the day, the past, the future or whatever topic was applicable. I can never recall a time we actually asked him if I could stay there, yet he simply just accepted that I was there. I was also introduced to how giving and caring he could be, very often allowing the workers and friends to take advantage, and he would honestly give someone the shirt off his back if it was going to make their lives better.
Diagnosed with a serious heart condition 4 years ago, and was medically boarded that same year. This kick started a massive life change which improved his life, and managed his health. He got stronger, and at the end of 2010 he started managing a farm on the North Coast. We knew that the farm was his first love, and we were as excited as he was. He loved it out there, and the last months since was some of his happiest.
Sadly, at the end of January 2012, Alex Gray collapsed at work. We rushed him to hospital, but got released a few days later. Unfortunately he had lost oxygen to his brain for longer than was advisable during the last 2 months, and this caused short-term brain damage, and he was no longer able to take care of himself. Eventually he returned to hospital, and after a week of fighting in ICU, died peacefully on 18 February 2012 of cardiac failure.
In the last few years, I had learned a lot from this man. My wife and I would not be where we are today, if it was not for his help, advise and unwavering support, even through the though times. He is already missed, and although he is no longer with us, I know he is in the best place he ever. With his wife. Smiling down on us as we start the next chapter of our lives.