Today would have been my brother-in-law's 46th birthday. We lost him too early, a little over a year ago. I think of him every day, but especially on special days and holidays. In his memory, I thought I would share a portion of what I said at his funeral.
Al lived big. He had a big heart and a big old voice. He had big ambition and big zest for life. Lots of us even called him “Big Al.” The thing that impressed Bruce and me most about him was his ability to live big in the moment. He had no qualms about taking time to do the things he felt were important, whether that meant enjoying a deep philosophical hot tub conversation late into the night, deciding to do something as daunting as starting a company, or working with Brian for an hour and a half to try to reel in “the big one.”
(An hour and a half is a long time to ponder what kind of fish may be on the other end of the line. He joked about how he was going to take a big bite out of it if it turned out to be tuna. He was going to have himself some sushi right on the beach.)
But even more impressive than that is what he chose to do for other people. He made choices most people don’t make. Most people don’t begin coaching soccer before they even have their own children. Most people don’t open their homes to whole families at a time to live for unknown lengths of time. Most people don’t spend hours on the phone giving advice—work-related, soccer related or just plain life-related. Al was not most people.
Al is a role model for so many young people. For Bruce and me (who are far from young), he is also a role model. He has taught us that we have to take time to do what makes us happy, live with open hearts, and have the courage of our convictions. He treated life just like he was envisioning doing to that tuna—he unabashedly took a big huge bite out of it. That is what he would want us to do.
We will forever feel our brother Al in our hearts and hear him in our heads, saying “Off you go”—guiding us to live life just a little bigger.
Happy Birthday, Al. <3