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Remembering "Uncle Al"

For most folks, the house on Ware Street is quiet now.

But those of us who spent time in Al McGaw's ever-changing workspace, can still hear the memories.

There's the sounds of classical music drifting from under the carport, the screaming of a table saw and Al's laugh - that baritone cackle that reverberated through the home.

Saturday morning, Al McGaw died after 90 years of building and rebuilding.

But his handiwork extends far beyond his wood and steel creations. His fingerprints are all over his family, who gathered Sunday afternoon in the Thomson First Presbyterian Church sanctuary to say goodbye to their husband, father and grandfather.

And he left his kids something else to offer a little comfort: their dad's own words. An e-mail Al sent to the family in the last months of his life offers insight into the man's life and a few lessons for us all:

Dec. 9, 2004

Think I better start by telling you that I was hurting sooo bad that I went back on the heavy pain pills. Pain didn't bother me, neither did anything else!!! i.e., the lost weekend, as far as comprehension was concerned. After another bout yesterday afternoon and last night, I think it has much worn off. And now for a startover!

The flooring goes down Monday morn, with Kersy as super on the job. Sunday will be spent removing all loose objects from the kitchen floor. In the meantime, I have Julia's e-mail, printed and posted. Don't understand all yet, but that will be later.

Now I must ask you all, my family, to take about three steps back, swallow hard, and admit what is there in front of you. Yes, it's your father, but it is also a tired old (OLD! FACE IT), man. Not 60, not 70, not 80, but 90 years. NINETY, pound it in there.

That is what I am trying to do, but you think smoking is a habit hard to give up? Try being in charge for 80 years, and suddenly quit. Not because you want to, but because you have to. I'll bet Conrad feels the loss as the power of authority slid away from him, leaving him standing there, not an easy trip.

Now think of me as an old child having to give up all my favorite toys and standing here, a crochety, slow, hurting person; still working crossword puzzles in ink, just takes longer, but I am not in that big a hurry anymore.

What stands tall in my mind, is that THE LORD has given me everything that I have needed, and the most wonderful life a man could ask for. Please try to remember that what comes out of the mouth is not always what the heart is saying!

To each, all, and every one of you, deepest love,

THE OL COOT.

And Jim had one more request during Sunday's memorial service: "Please remember my dad."

That's not a problem.

So for Al - and all those who knew him - I raise a Genesee Cream Ale in his memory.

Goodbye, Old Coot. Thanks for the lessons.



Web posted on Thursday, June 30, 2005











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