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
- Tell us about a time you couldn’t quite get your words or images to express what you wanted to express. What do you think the barrier was? For bonus points, try again. See all answers
- Express Yourself Or Don’t
I am usually a very emotional person and my instincts are generally spot on.I would say that would be true nine times out of ten. However, when I am overwhelmed AND feel conflicting emotions at the same time I don’t know how to express my feelings and I don’t even know what my feelings are. I feel totally disconnected. I pull away from the situation so I am no longer hurt or angry, sad or upset. I hide in a bubble of safety, thick enough to shield me from any painful feelings while the world goes on around me.I become detached, I float in the sky, safe in my bubble.
I need a certain amount of time to process new information, it has to settle naturally and I don’t try to analyze it or question myself vigorously (though I used to when I was much younger.) I know that, with time and patience, it will resolve itself and when I am ready to hear it, the answer will be there for me to learn from it.
It’s a pleasant feeling, it’s one that feels like floating above and around people, but it’s better than emotionally killing myself, torturing myself with angst and wreaking havoc with my life. It’s a temporary phase that lasts until all the emotions inside me have settled down and I can look at them with some logic and not the emotional upheaval that would roar and fight inside me like angry tigers.
These feelings come up when I have heard something that is extremely hurtful or when I feel emotionally devastated. Then, the barrier comes up to protect me. When I am emotionally devastated, I go into this bubble of safety, not to run away, but to escape for those hours I need to understand without any outside distraction.
It’s my way of trying to process new, hurtful information and absorbing the shock without completely falling apart. In time, I will learn from it when I am ready to take it all in.
- All photo credits and rights to Al-Fresco
Tonight, my little yellow house is quiet. my dog is in her bed snuggled happily in her blankets; she looks like an angel when she is asleep. Other times she is the most difficult, stubborn, strong and crazy dog I’ve ever seen. I rescued her from the shelter, I saw her curled in a little red ball, asleep. We have had four trainers, books, gadgets, leashes, collars, any equipment you can imagine and she defies them all. Not that I would want to buy a dog from a breeder (though I am giving it serious thought for the first time) with the money we have spent we could have purchased a purebred, maybe two. This dog is wild, charming and adorable, sometimes we think she is part dingo. I love her to pieces.
My husband is already asleep, he has to get up very early on weekdays to trudge into the city to a job he really doesn’t like but at least it pays the bills. I am trying to focus on my kids coming home soon to visit; these three people are my treasures in life and there is not a day I take them for granted.
I am both a daughter and a parent. Sometimes it is hard to be in the middle, worrying both about my mom and my kids. You never know what the right thing to do is, you just try to do the best you can but sometimes it feels like a juggling act, no one is completely satisfied. We try to do the best that we can, that’s all we know how to do. I love my children so much, they ARE my world, I would do anything for them, instead of them, because of them. I not only love them but I like them as well. They are good, outstanding people, smart, kind, caring and adaptable which was never my strong suit but even I have changed. My husband and I always said I need 24 -48 hours to get used to change, and no one knows me like he does. I adore this man with whom I’ve been married for twenty-five years.
The night air is still, sky is black, I feel comforted. The air is different at night then it is during the day. My little yellow house stands underneath a vast sky of darkness. I can think more, be more peaceful, write, breathe in the evening. It’s at night when I don’t have to focus on anything else that makes me feel good, and at peace with myself. Life isn’t as complicated as I make it, I realize that at night, I need to remember that during the day.
Listening to crickets, the room is warm, I think back to old times, simpler times but I wouldn’t go back again. I love who I am today, older, more appreciative and more at peace with myself. Grateful. I know what is important, I don’t need anything else in life.
I often refer to my husband and myself as Empty Nesters, stuck between two worlds. We still live in the home where we raised our children, paying outrageous school taxes even though both kids are in college. My mother and sister both live nearby and my husband’s parents live close by as well. But, I know, deep inside, this is not where I want to end up for the rest of our lives. I’m sure you have heard the term “The Sandwich Generation” before, it defines us as it does most of the aging “Baby Boomers.” I shudder when I even think of the term “Aging Boomers.” Us? Really?
I have wanted to move to the West Cost for a long time since I was a kid and my dad mentioned he had a possible job interview in California. For someone who is not good with change, I was so excited about the prospect. I imagined a little white house and garden with bright red flowers on the boarders, an orange tree in the back yard and a red dog named Rusty.
Here, in the Northeast the weather is too cold and I’ve always hated cold weather. For those of you who enjoy the cold and love its sparkling freshness, enjoy it. For all you skiers out there, have a great time racing down those sleek, icy hills, I would be in the chalet drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream anyway. The cold weather makes me hurt all over in general and living with the chronic pain illness, Fibromyalgia, the cold, bone-chilling weather makes my bones and muscles hurt even more. There is nothing I can do about that except accept it.
I admit, I used to feel closed in not knowing when and where we would move in the future but now it feels alright, in fact it feels safe. Chaos will surely occur if there is any major change and for someone like me, change is always hard. For me, ” A Good Change” is an oxymoron. For little things, I need 24-48 hours to get used to change that is even mildly disturbing, imagine a huge change? The mere thought of moving away from my sister and mother brings tears to my eyes. My children will come visit when they can, it is their turn to live now. So maybe being “stuck” is not so bad, maybe being stuck is just being “safe.” If I look at it that way, I’m doing alright. Actually, pretty good. I’m enjoying nature in the suburbs, the sweet red cardinals chirping in the trees, the changing of the leaves, the different seasons. Change will happen by itself, there are things we can’t control, health, employment, our children moving away, us moving away, sickness, death. Life brings us one change after another, so right now where we are “stuck” is really a time to rest and appreciate. Whatever comes next, will be very, very different; we will get used to it in time but it won’t be easy to call that place home with all the pieces in the puzzle fitting right into place for a long time. I’m just going to appreciate what I have now, not look backwards and not look forwards, be in the present. Sounds good, right? I’m trying the best that I can.
- Safe inside, toasty warm, while water pitter-patters on the roof… describe your perfect, rainy afternoon. See all answers
- Thinking in the rain
Actually, my perfect rainy afternoon would be living in a climate where it doesn’t rain BUT, I will be good and play along:
A cup of jasmine tea, sitting on a window bench, looking outside, my dog sleeping peacefully near me so I can hear her breathing, daydreaming, a fire in the fireplace, writing an entry into my blog, no stress in my life, matching my breathing with the pattern of the rain, no thoughts, mindful meditation. Relaxation.
An Easier Life
Nobody ever said life was going to be easy. In our young innocence we just assume it is because we know no different; our families have protected us from life’s troubles. That, my dear, can only last a short time, you do know that right?
It’s been a rough couple of months, actually it’s been rough for a long time now. As we grow older we look back on our lives, I do not envy the youth of today. No, I really don’t. Growing older does not have many perks. We all handle it differently. There are cheery and optimistic people with me in the nursing home and some say clichés like “You’re as young as you feel.” Frankly I think that’s a crock…”
There are people like me who are over sensitive to other people’s suffering and pain. I feel other people’s pain, it becomes a part of me, I’ve been that way since I’ve been a child, I can’t undo who I am or try not to care. It doesn’t work. I sincerely wish it would. It would cause me so much less pain. I don’t blame anyone but myself but I always thought caring about others was a good thing, no? Well, not for me, you see.
I’ve accepted, after many years, that people are very different, though growing up I thought everyone felt the way I did so when caring wasn’t reciprocated, I was often hurt. As a child how would you know that all people act differently? Who else could I learn from if not from myself? Life changed that, many years later in my life, not quickly enough but eventually I learned and adjusted, but it never felt natural to me.You deal with whatever happens to you and sometimes you still deflate like a withering balloon starting from a room’s happy ceiling and twirling slower and slower until all the life that has been kept it in the balloon deflates and now it’s just a tiny lump of pink lying embarrassingly at your feet, defeated and dead.
Many things have happened in the world lately, things that I thought I would never see in my older years. Things I didn’t want to see: the horror of September 11th, the killing of children and adults in Newtowne, Connecticut and this week, the joyful runners of the Boston Marathon and onlookers killed senselessly. I spent almost half of my life in Boston, the good years, the young, innocent years when Hank and I got married. There was a joy known only to newlyweds, many more days clothed in bright yellow happiness than the darkness of fear. There was nothing to worry about back then; could it have been just magic? Maybe, it was the utter happiness, cloud of love and youth, having no responsibilities and living in a simpler, easier time.
There were no bomb threats or terrorist attacks back then, now our children and grandchildren live in constant fear and uncertainty. I’m glad Hank isn’t alive to see all of this. The Boston Marathon this past week put people back, straight back to 9/11, this terror spares no one, no place, no time. How hard, how scary it to live actively in today’s world. I fear for my children and my grandchildren. I have lived a long, life, and for that alone, I am happy to be old. If I died tonight there would be no regrets. Sitting in my room, rocking in my chair, smiling at the pretty white flowers, visits from my children and grandchildren, sleeping and a good meal is all I ask for and all that I want. I don’t envy the youth of today, in fact, I feel quite sad for them.
SOMETIMES DOING NOTHING IS REALLY, REALLY NICE.
We were snowed in last week and with 20 inches of snow and nowhere to go I entertained myself by listening to music, writing, reading and eating. Maybe food doesn’t count because we always eat but isn’t it such a great excuse when you are snowed in?! I made brownies (excuse: because we are snowed in), I ordered pizza (because we are snowed in), I watched stupid television shows (again, because we are snowed in) and I made some phone calls….(because we are, you know the rest). Being snowed in isn’t really bad at all if it’s just for a day or two. I relaxed in front of our fireplace drinking hot chocolate with whipped cream, I cradled my 8-year-old mutt and didn’t concentrate or worry about anything. How do you spell “snowed in?” I spell it PEACEFUL.