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.
|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,