A Fond Farewell…..”A.M.”
Tonite, I will be going to a funeral service for a family friend, “Al” who passed away, ironically, on Fathers Day at the age of 83.
Like many in my family and extended group of friends of that Post WW1 generation, he, as a teenager, and his family escaped the ravages of WW2 like your stereotypical refugees, with nothing more than the clothes on their back . They all called themselves the “Old Country” crowd.
He was the oldest child in his family, and the only son….with six sisters.
One of the anecdotes circulated was that their family of nine paid off their first family house in ONE YEAR….the entire family worked , pooled their money, and then owned the home outright .
As a child, I vividly recall the first funeral I ever went which was his father, who passed away in the early 1960’s unexpectedly at age of 50, leaving his mother a widow who lived to be over 90.
The extended family and friends were quite blessed, no deaths or tragedies…for years. My great uncle passed away age 65, in the mid 1970’s…the next funeral.
Then ,one day, I came home and was greeted with the news my Grandfather had died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age of 80.My grandmother passed away 4 years later, also at 80.
The reality of mortality starts to kick in and the older one gets, the more one also realizes the Grim Reaper plays no favourites.
An uncle had heart problems…went to numerous doctors, specialists…they couldn’t pin anything down, and he was cleared to go to his cabin. He was there no more than a day, ….His wife woke and found him dead…massive heart attack.
Another family friend broke an arm lifting a potato sack….finds out he has cancer…arm amputated…..but it was hopeless.
I’ve already posted about three young people who have died.
Al was what one could call a Man’s Man. He was amazing as I doubt he had more than a grade 10 education. There was no such thing as day off. His job allowed him several days off between 12 hour shifts. He built at least (3) homes that I know..and I mean he did almost everything, framing, plumbing, wiring ,masonry etc. . He could also do mechanics and welding…he would acquire equipment fix it and re-sell it.
He also knew how to enjoy life and really live it. One could not visit without a glass of home made wine.
He raised (4) of the nicest children you will ever meet. All but one married, and provided him with 8 grandchildren. One recent tragedy was his eldest and only daughter lost her husband last year,in his early 50’s, to a very aggressive cancer.
Al had health problems in his last few years….he had this perpetual blinking in his eyes, both hips replaced, and slow dementia. My Mom used to say, as a compliment, he worked himself to death.
He had a stroke a few weeks back, and it was all downhill. He was transferred to a care home, and we heard the sad news on Monday.
His son, who will be doing the eulogy, called me up. He wanted to talk to my Dad , to fill in some information, as my Dad and Al were friends and knew each other for over 60 years..
I think back to my grandfather and how young and immortal one feels then, but I see how fast time has flown, and we have all moved up into that generation that can expect more of the Grim Reaper, there will be shocks, but in hindsight, no surprises. No one is immortal…
You are left with good memories and often feel honoured and grateful that you actually had people like this as part of your life and an inspiration.
Al’s message would be to work hard,you will succeed… family is NUMBER ONE….. and live life to the fullest.
R.I.P …..AL..and thanks for the legacy and inspiration.