Actually, Albert. I’m not sure really what the thought process was, but he ended up naming one of his sons Albert, after him, and Alfred. Not sure if that name was chosen because of one or two relatives named Alfred. But let’s just say when his family attended our cousin’s brunches at Luciano’s at Lake Pearl and you yelled, “Al”, several guys turned their head.
At this year’s brunch, there will be one less Al, as Albert passed away, another victim of prostate cancer.
I can’t say I know all that much about Al other that what was obvious. He was married to a wonderful woman named Francis. He had three sons, one of whom he had the decency not give a name where “Al” might be a nickname. And, most importantly, he was just a good guy, who made every family event.
That might not sound like a huge accomplishment, but you have to know the dynamics of my father’s side of the family. He was an only child who lost both parents by the time he was 17. What made that even more difficult was that he had emigrated to the States just five years earlier.
There were a few first cousins; many of those relatives were cousins once, twice, three times removed or cousins by a second marriage. Al was a cousin by marriage (his wife Francis was a second cousin or deeper, I’m still not sure). The point being, it would not have been considered a slight if Al did not make one of our family’s events. He, Francis and the boys always did.
News travels slowly on this side of the family. It’s not unusual for people to not know about a serious illness until it’s too late. Maybe it’s generational or part of the Italian culture, but nobody wants anybody to worry about them. On the surface, that’s seems noble. But it makes it difficult to prepare yourself for bad news. That was the case when I received an e-mail from my father telling me that Al had died from prostate cancer.
As has been the case with other relatives on that side of the family, you actually hear more of their story whey they are gone than when they were still here. That was true with Al. At funeral, I found out that Al and Francis were but a month away from their 50th wedding anniversary. It had been a double wedding with Francis’s sister and her husband. Al was the only one who did not make it.
In a few months, Al’s first grandchild will be born to his youngest son. I’m going to guess that boy or girl will have a name where he or she can be called “Al” for short.
Sadly, dare I say tragically, he will not be there for that event or his grandchild’s life.
I’m growing a moustache this Movember to raise money for prostate cancer awareness and research. There’s probably an Al in all our lives and they deserve to be around for 50th anniversaries and first grandchildren.
You can donate to Movember by visiting http://us.movember.com/mospace/1515062.