There is an official obituary about our friend Al Mayo that was written in the *New York Daily News and it was very accurate. However, I just don’t want people to remember him that way alone. It feels wrong to me.
The person who died, from my childhood neighborhood, was a lovely man, an old friend that passed away in January. A friend of mine called to tell me the horrible news of Al’s suicide. This was no ordinary death, it was a violent, brutal, grisly death. I don’t want this kind soul, the friend of everybody to be known by his suicide, or his obituary instead of his life, his cheery personality, his effusive grin, his loving and peaceful self.
I refuse to think of him in any other way than the newspaper’s photo that was published. It was a wonderful photo (above) where he is grinning, a twinkle in his eye, kind and sweet. Al was all about peace and love, not violence, not to anyone. In his last years his body was ravaged by cancer, he couldn’t eat, talk, swallow; he had no life, he took his life, violently.
He said hello to everyone and he was like a fixture in our neighborhood, you knew that if you walked around the block you would most probably see Al Mayo smiling, leaning against a store, grinning widely, resting on his cane.
He didn’t have an easy life, he lost part of his leg in a motorcycle accident when I was young so he was probably in his late teens but nothing stopped him. He accepted what happened and moved on. He would be smiling and talking and spreading good cheer to all the neighbors in our little town. His lifelong friends stayed his lifelong friends.
Everyone was utterly shocked by the news but my friends M. and H. and I were shaken at the news, not as much that he had committed suicide but how. For a very peaceful man, he committed death in a very violent way, making sure that no one else would be hurt. Al, only wanted to end his life, never anybody else’s life. He wouldn’t harm a soul.
Al had cancer for a few years, unbearable, painful cancer that left him unable to eat, to swallow, to lead a normal life. If Al couldn’t lead a life that was close to normal, there wasn’t any Al left, he tried so hard and went through so much.
Now this sweet soul, friend to everyone is gone forever. We will all miss you Al and we will always remember your bright, warm smile. We will miss our own elected “mayor.” You were Kew Gardens’ own, Bob Dylan, that’s how important you were to us, will always be.
Al Mayo, Rest In Peace.
Special thanks to Harry Klein, my friend and best friend of Al Mayo.
*Click on photo for NY Daily News Article