Monday, July 14, 2014

The Last of the Mohicans: Remembering Al Wry


He was a gift.  I knew it when I was with him.  A miracle of sorts, this cousin, once lost, now found.

You may recall my story of meeting my dad's first cousin in my post here in late April.



His name was Albert Lorne Wry Jr. and I found out this past weekend that he has passed away.  I was heartbroken as I was about to call him and go see him at his summer home as early as next week.

Al died on June 22nd, which happens to be the birthday of the grandfather that I spoke about in the post above.  He died at his cottage, which is, without knowing him well, a place he would be as glad as any to pass away in.  When we met him, he had all kinds of wonderful pictures of his cottage to show us and he gave me his phone number there so I could come visit him this summer and see the Wry family bible.

When I cold-called him that blustery early April day, Al said "You'd better come soon."  He clarified it afterwards; he'd be opening his summer cottage soon and wouldn't be in Sackville after the long weekend in May.

But perhaps Al had an inkling.  During our visit with him, he spoke with such love about his wife who had only recently died.  It was clear he was lonely, despite family and friends who checked in on him.

Al lived a great life.  From his service to his country during World War II, to his creative work in advertising, to his service to his community, his was a life well lived.
 

Albert Wry, Alice (Chapman) Shelton and daughter Ann Shelton
Al during the war.  I only realized when I saw this picture that Al had the same nickname as my dad!

I didn't get my second visit with Al, though I guess I will when I go down to his funeral in early August, where I hope to meet more Wry relatives.

But that cold, rainy afternoon in late April was a gift.

I was shy to call this man I'd never met, this man my own father probably hadn't seen since the early 1960s.

The world is full of our cousins and it is only a generation or two before they are scattered to the wind and your own children don't even know who they're related to.  My dad would have been shy to call Al had he been alive; I know Al was surprised that I had called him.

During our first of two phone calls Al called himself "The Last of the Mohicans"; he was the last surviving child of the Wry siblings who grew up in the Wry House across the street from the Marshlands Inn in Sackville.  He had outlived all of his first cousins.  He was the last person who remembered my great-grandparents; could share family stories with me of events so long ago.

Eventually we will all get there.  Someone has to go last.

I had a little cry on Saturday night, not because I was close to Al or because I thought it was a tragedy he had passed away; neither of those things are true.  But with this lovely gentle man the cord was cut.  

The Last of the Mohicans was gone.  And with him, the stories.

God Bless you Albert Lorne Wry Jr.  And thank you.

"I am on the hill-top, and must go down into the valley; and when Uncas follows in my footsteps, there will no longer be any of the blood of the Sagamores, for my boy is the last of the Mohicans."
James Fenimore Cooper

23 comments:

  1. I'm sorry for your loss and the chance to see him again and get some more family stories. But at least you got the oppourtunity to meet him. Xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Naomi - it's funny, I kind of don't think of him as my loss and yet I do, which I guess is a sign of what a great time we shared, however brief!

      Delete
  2. I remember reading the post about your meeting very well.
    So sorry that you didn't get that second visit and chat, but at least you got the first one and that will always be special. Take care x

    ReplyDelete
  3. I too am sorry you did not get a second visit but the first is quite the memory. This has now become one of your stories to tell. Much love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks T! I timed it well, that's for sure! I almost called this post "there are no accidents"

      Delete
  4. My thoughts and prayers are with you for your loss. How wonderful that you were able to spend time and learn more about your family history through such a lovely cousin...something to pass down to your own children. You also did a good deed looking Al up. I bet that it gave him an enormous amount of pleasure. I feel like the older we get the more meaningful and profound those family bonds become.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are right! A few days after the visit I sent him a note of thanks and a copy of the picture above, which I suspect he shared with many. He seemed quite tickled for us to visit him!

      Delete
  5. Oh how sad, I am so glad that you were able to meet him, this life is so tragically fleeting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although he did get 91 good years in. He was sure ready to go, I think, though he was very engaged in everything and that's what I think keeps you young - interest in the world around you!

      Delete
  6. Thinking of you and I'm so sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wendy, I'm so sorry to hear this, but isn't it fortunate that you made contact with him in April.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barb - it really seems more than serendipitous to me!

      Delete
  8. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful tribute.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautifully said Wendy. I loved that post on your meeting him back in April.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I am off to find all the cousins in the world!

      Delete
  10. So great you did get to meet him that one time; sorry for this loss for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks Lane! As I said, I so wish I had found him 5 years ago!

      Delete
  11. Wow, this is incredibly sad, he was the last of the Mohicans. What a handsome man standing there with two beautiful women.

    Did you wish you'd recorded his memories.

    Funny I've realised after coming back from NZ that I've never asked my mother so many questions I should have and there maybe there is not as much time as we think...

    ReplyDelete

Kindness is a virtue...