I have just been reunited with my family! Now, believe me this is a huge deal. I had been curious & been searching for my Grandfather for as long as I could remember. This weekend we met for the first time ever!
But for right now.. let’s rewind a little bit so that you can better understand the full story…(you can add those fast, high pitched..sound effects here: “ziiiiiiipzooopzam zam”)….
My mommy… Gloria Zodiacal, was born in Los Angeles to Offelia and George Zodiacal. Gloria was the middle child with a younger sister Yolanda & older brother Johnny… They all then relocated and were raised in Anaheim. When Gloria was about the age of 3-5 yrs old..my Grandparents (George & Offelia) split up. The kids, “traditionaly”, ended up staying with their mother. All that had been “known” was that their dad had been gone since they were small. The faint memories that my Aunt Yolanda and my mom held were short visits riding around in a car with their father, George. They were very young, mind you…
My mom and her family moved quite a bit all throughout Anaheim. The three of them stuck together. My mom fell into the role of the eldest sibling, the nurturer. At the age of 15 years old she attended Anaheim High School. There, she met a handsome “kool kat” named, Armando, whom was also raised in Anaheim. The two fell for each other hard and quickly. Their courtship was a serious one from the start. In the back of Gloria’s Mind she still had questions and thoughts of her Father. My grandmother was ambiguous about her estranged husband (my mom’s Father)…Simple translation: She wasnt sayin’ too much.
Fwd A bit>>>> 1984
Upon a year and sum months of courtship, Gloria & Armando decided to Marry! (Insert Wedding bell sounds here.) Gloria was just 16 yrs of age at the time. She was given away by her older brother. Three months later they went on to become pregnant with their first born.
FWD a lil’ bit more>>>> 1985
A glorious event occurred! (Insert Angels singing here: “AAAAAAhhhhh”)Priscilla was born! One divine blessing to all of you! lol. They went on to have another child in 1989,….Jaquelyn (newborn sound effects:”waaaaaa.” Smack*)
Couple of yrs more>>>>>>>>>>>>>>1992-3ish
Armando & Gloria moved into a large house in Anaheim on West Street with my sister and I, and my older cousin. My Aunt Yolanda & little cousin came to stay with us temporarily after we moved in. The house sat on a half acre of land. One windy November night, we all came home after a prayer meeting/ bible study at a family members house. We all ended up sleeping together slumber party style in the living room that night. I remember we all cozied up and recall being warm and snuggled in between layers of blankets. That is probably why I enjoy “camping out” like that with my own family to this day. We had the fireplace going as we always loooooved to….. I fell asleep slowly & comfortably, nestled against my mom. I vividly remember listening to the sounds of her breathing as I lay on her stomach. Everything was about to change unknowingly to me————————-
I woke up and felt something cool and hard against my temple. I opened my eyes and realized that I was leaning up against a window. I was in our van outside of our house. Everyone was in the van with me and all were sobbing. I was groggy and confused. Then I looked to my left and saw a sight that made me realize exactly what was going on, yet have so many questions all in…one….very…..slow…..second. Our home was on fire! The entire house was blazing with enormous flames. Sirens flickered & fitefighters rushed to the scene. I started to scream and cry. The memory seems to be as if it was all in slow motion and silence was all I heard. My daze was interrupted by my dad opening up our van door as he tossed in our large German Shepard, Peanut. The one funny memory I have from all of it was that we were all sitting in our van, calmly crying & talking. Then out of no where we smelt something horrible. Peanut farted! We all bursted into laughter. We had to let him out for a while. The American Red Cross put us up in a hotel for a week. Then we went to stay with family who graciously opened up their home to us for a while. I find it interesting that the land where our home use to exist is now a Church and parking lot.
About 2 weeks after the fire my mom started with a frequent cough. We assumed it was an insignificant side effect from all of the smoke. But it kept on. She went to the doctors and they told her that she may have Bronchitis. My mommy went for further testing because of continuing symptoms. She was diagnosed with cancer of the cervix. She had surgery and regularly received radiation treatments. The cancer was gone—– But a few months later… We discovered that it was back! It had hid and come back stronger than before. It had spread everywhere. She went through chemotherapy. She continued to praise God every step of the way. Everyone who came in contact with her was surprised at her demeanor. She seemed almost upbeat. It didn’t make sense. She was a very young woman, with 2 small daughters, a husband, and she was sick with a potentially fatal disease! It was her spirit. She did have a hard time with thinking that she might have to leave her babies. However, she maintained a peace that most people could not understand. Open & honest age appropriate conversations were attempted f sister and I were “prepared” if anything were to happen. You can never be prepared for something like that. However taking what I can from this experience that is now apart of me, what I learned is that I could choose to turn sorrow into strength, painful struggles into victories, and experiences into building blocks of faith.
The doctors told her that she didn’t have much time, no more than a couple of months. She exceeded it! My mom tried to search for her dad. She tried all resources available at the time. But she could not find him. During this period she set out to spend as much time together as a family & make as many memories as she could. We went everywhere. We even spent an entire day at a Head Shots studio. My dad had it arranged so that we could video record during our time there. She lived on. She went to family parties, church, and in and out of the hospital. But everywhere she went, she greatly touched someone. In late January, doctors told her that they had been doing all that they could for her. She was going to permanently return home and stop all treatments. At this time they were only wearing her body down without any positive effects. Her hospital bed and necessary things were moved into our home. One night she went to bed in her room. My dad made chili dogs for my sister and I. The three of us went to sleep once again slumber party style in our living room. Later that night my dad heard her calling him and woke up. He went to her room and asked her what she needed. She didn’t say anything. He went closer to her and saw that she was stiff. She was breathing but her heart was beating rapidly. He asked if she could see him. No response.
This is from a memoir that my Dad wrote:
“… So then I told her Gloria, this is it. You’re going home with Jesus. He’s going to take you home now. In just a few minutes when you look around you will be in heaven, with the Lord. I love you!!! I opened the bible to Psalm 23 and read:
The Lord is my Shepard; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in Green Pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name sake. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of DEATH I will fear no evil! For you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I gave her a kiss… Gloria Baby you made it. You made it. You fought the good fight, you kept the faith, you won the race. You were a very awesome example of what we should be like. You touched so many people with your life. Now you will touch even more with your death. I promise you I will take care of our beautiful daughters with the Lord’s help. He will strengthen me just as he strengthened you. You were so gracious. I just pray that I can be half as good a testimony that you were. You made it baby. I love you.”
On February 8, 1994 Gloria Torres entered into the kingdom of heaven.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>2 weeks ago.
I had always wondered who my Grandfather was. I had always wanted to at lease meet him. It was also something meaningful to me because it was something that my mommy did not get to do before she passed. A couple of weeks ago on Saturday, October 28th, there was a huge fire 2 houses down from ours. I wrote a blog about it and my dad was in the newspaper. It brought back old memories of the whole experience I had with our home burning down, and now that I have my own children it came back full circle for me. It was a bit of a scare, but by the mercy of God we were not affected in anyway! Later that day I started to think on things. I thought about my mommy. Then I thought about her dad. I had looked before using the internet and through search tools for that sort of thing. Nothing. My dad said that he was probably dead. But, I knew in my heart that he was out there somewhere. I always imagined that he was alive and that he probably had a whole other family. I always said that I was gonna find him one day, “just watch!” Being intrigued with my family history & roots in high school I had always asked Pacific Islander friends about the last name Zodiacal. It is a very rare name. I knew that if someone had it… They had to be related to me. A thought popped into my mind to just search his name on Myspace. I had never thought to before. It didn’t make sense that an older man of his age would even know what myspace was. However, I reasoned that just maybe there could be someone related to him with the same name. I searched George Zodiacal, and 2 in all of myspace came up. One 12 yr old boy in the Philippines & a man in California. I looked at the page of George Zodiacal in California. He almost seemed like he could be related to us. He also had 2 sisters. I thought about it, “….hmmm…. ehhh… he’s 26. Too old to be his grand child. Too young to be his son? Ehhh forget it.” I walked away. Later that night I went back to it. It wouldn’t hurt. I’m gonna write him! I wrote him this message:
“Hey this probably sounds really weird… and its probably a long shot… But I know the last name Zodiacal is a very rare Filipino name. My mom, who passed away when I was 8, hadn’t seen her dad since she was little. I was just always curious to know who he was. His name was George Zodiacal. He was full Filipino. I don’t know anything about that part of my family at all. So I was just wondering if you knew someone, OBVIOUSLY OLDER THAN YOU…lol… with that same name… jus puttin it out there… doesn’t hurt to ask. Peace.
Thank You for your time.
Sorry if this is a bother.
Two days passed and I never got a response :'(.. Then… I found two messages on my myspace from the guy that I wrote to:
“hey im sorry i didnt see your message sooner but thats so wierd, im the 4th. my dads name is george z and his dad was george too. my dad is 59 and his dad past away a few years back in samoa, yeah he was Filipino. just hit me back and let me know. hope to here from you.”
Then the next:
“P.S. My dad had 2 daughters, Yolanda and Gloria. What city was your mom from?”
My heart started racing! I started crying and my hands were shaking uncontrollably. I read it like 3 more times. After making sure that I wasnt retarded or delusional… I ran half way down the stairs and started yelling at Robert “It’s HIM! It’s HIM!” Robert asked “WHAT?!” Then we repeated the same cycle about 2 more times. I couldn’t help but cover my mouth and try to catch my breath. I finally spit it out that It was my Grandpa. I had found Him! Robert had to help me to think straight…lol. I called my aunty Yolanda and had to explain to her that I had even contacted the guy. She couldn’t believe I had found her dad. She just said, “Oh my God…My dad is alive?”..Lizzy… my mommy’s sister called me after I contacted them back with info. She said that they all had always been looking for my mommy and siblings. He had told them about my mom and aunty and uncle. He used to visit his kids after the split. He would drive around in his car with them. He lost track of their where about’s in their process of regularly relocating. He learned that he found us… ALL of us. But also that his daughter had passed away.
>>>The weekend of 11/10/06
They drove all the way from San Jose. We all met. It was very special, amazing, surreal, fun, and unbelievable! We went everywhere, talked and shared pictures! I now know my family. I discovered more about my roots & learned that My grandpa is actually from America Samoa and some of my family lives in Hawaii. It is so amazing. I would have never thought that anything like this would happen to me… I feel very humble and proud that I was actually able to do something for my mommy. She wasn’t able to find & meet Him. But I did it for her. I think I always knew that he was out there and never thought bad about him, because I believe my mommy felt the same way in her heart. When they all left… I was saddened. It hurt. I was not expecting that… I think that I was trying to prepare myself in case it went sour. Or in case they turned out to be weird or something lol. (Hey for all I know they could of been anyone)…But we all connected! They were great! And they now have a very special place in my heart! I know that we were brought together at this specific time for a reason.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>The Unknown Future>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Some may wonder why I would even share all of this. Why I would share such intimate parts of my life. It is because one: It is such a rare, you would believe only happens in the movies type story. But mostly it is because I need to! What good is it if I do not share it? It would all be just hurt and pain from my past if I do not at least attempt to touch someone else in some way, whether it be big or small. I miss my mommy incredibly. Yes, I wish she was here right now. Yes, sometimes I try and imagine how my life would be with her. I wonder what she would look like. I wonder how she would dress these days and how close we would be. I imagine where we would live and picture what our lives would look like. And most of all I imagine how in Love she would be with my babies! Time has passed, bit It still hurts. Yet, I have strength. I can say that I am proud of who I am becoming because of where I have been. I know that everything would be different, but I would not change anything at all. I am so in love and grateful for my own children!
For everything there is a time, a season, and a purpose. We do not always know what the purpose of our experiences are until it is time to use them. I don’t have all the answers. But I know I do have THE answer. It is Jesus. There are so many problems and hurt in everyone’s lives. But through it all he loves us. He wants to bless us, free us, and make us victorious! My daddy raised me and my sister the best he knew how and he did a very good job. However, we still did have struggles. But that is another testimony in itself. My point is that when I tell ppl about God, it is coming from the life of someone who knows & has experienced the mercy & goodness of God firsthand. It is coming from someone who has been through it and come out the other side because of God’s Grace. I am not perfect in the flesh, but I am perfect in the spirit. I am always growing and striving to be closer to God. To everything there is a beginning and an end. There will be an end. What will yours be? There is no time to waste playing around. Yes, still live… enjoy your family… succeed in business. Family, Jobs, and friends are all things that are for us to enjoy while we are here & through them reflect the Christ in us. But we need to remember that those things are what we do, not what we are. We are God’s people! Every single one of us were meant to live the life He planned for us, and if we are not, it is because we chose not to. I am saved by His Grace. And for that I am thankful. It does not matter what you have done, how you look, or where you have been. Now it is time to just give yourself up to HIM. Accept HIM and let him save you. I did not write this to preach to anyone… but this is the route this went. This stems back from the desires of my Mother for her children.
My mom wrote a memoir in one of her many journals of her last words and I will leave you with this:
My last Word. I can rest in peace in Jesus. Don’t miss me, Just keep loving me as much as I have loved you all, with all my love God has given to me.
Always keep close to God to the bitter end. Even to the end of your death bed. Don’t ever exchange your life for anything except Christ. Without Him I would have never made it. And I can say, NEVER MADE IT.
Thank You All. I Love You
My tears to my girls.
And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with it’s passions and desires. If we lived in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.