Albert


He was a funny old chap. He used to come by and do odd jobs for my aunt, and me and my cousins would sometimes watch him. He was a living block of gruff, practical no-nonsense kindness. He has been gone from us for year upon the year, but still I remember him,

Why I ask myself. I can’t remember a single phrase he said, or advice given. We never went anywhere with him, and he never bought us any treats or chocolate. He might have done, but if he did, I’ve forgotten it. His legacy to me is in the manner he behaved. An adult with a job to do,sometimes  surrounded by young boys, who in his work and behaviour showed a purpose, pride and dignity, all garnished by his warmth. He  became the standard by which I measured others. He would challenge us to minor battles of strength. Test but never ridicule . He was entirely without either pomposity or fake humility.He came to do a job and he knew how to do it. Thats what he was: a grounded man, with practised skills through which he supported his family. As a by-product he showed a warmth of spirit and a jostling wisdom which still brings a smile to my face as I write this.

There comes a time in a teenagers life, well, in most teenagers life, well in my life anyway, when you suspect your parents, and most adults are really Martians disguised as humans. Avoiding their company may be the key to your long-term survival. This rule is followed with vigour but there are exceptions. Albert was one. He knew how to connect without making it obvious. He didn’t know he knew that, it was just in his general bearing and approach. He could challenge you without over facing you, tease without attacking your confidence and smile at you in a way which was still credible to a doubting teen. In short, he was one of the good ones.

Along the way I met others. Men in different roles and circumstances but they all had a common theme. There was more about them than things they said or had. They  never boasted but they didn’t retreat and their dress sense was dictated  more by the weather than by social pressure. They knew what parts of life to ignore, which meant much of it, and they knew which parts to cherish which meant  family and some of it. Like icebergs, but slightly warmer the greater part of them was hidden from sight. This made them so different from the apparently glamorous, strutting and boasting meringues, who had much more bulk, than mass and who, in my fevered opinion, often obscure the view without adding to it.

I’ve no idea why this is. I am a man who is happy to dine, sing and be ridiculous with any man or women of any colour religion, height or hairstyle. If you confide in me that at least one pot of marmalade must be consumed a week in order to maintain healthy joints I will smile and admit medical science still has much to learn.   I am happy to share my life and time with people and show my version of  patience for their oddities, but if they show the slightest tendency to strut, show off or refer to their amazing list of achievements I leave as fast as possible. A short period of frothing will follow. Why that is I have no idea. Those faults are no worse than many of the others  I am sure. Our map of life is often more of impression than of fact. Albert will always be a presence in mine.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, childhood, community, creative writing, Life, life2, old age, Relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Albert

  1. yourothermotherhere says:

    I wonder if Albert ever knew he made such an impression on you for the good?

    Like

  2. This is a beautifully written piece with lovely sentiment. I think it is very special that the memories of Albert have stayed with you and made such a mark. I guess my wish is that all teenagers get a chance to meet their Albert along the way dispelling the myth that all of us adults are Martians!

    Like

    • I have met a few Martians in my time as well, sadly. As you get older they cleverly change their disguise, but they are always out there. I strongly suspect you are not a Martian and are more like “one of the good ones”

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  3. Ina says:

    Hi Peter
    some people have that, without knowing, or trying. They make you feel better in the way they are. Enjoyed the posting!

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  4. “Albert” and the other role models in your life made you into who you are, Ducky

    ….Fabulous. Beautiful. Kind. Compassionate.

    A man with dignity and value.

    Xxx Love

    Like

  5. babs50nfab says:

    Isn’t it funny how a character in your past can pop into your mind and make you realize you really learned something from this person you hardly knew? I agree with you Peter…lead by quiet example not by flaunting what you think you have but probably don’t.
    Love this post!
    b

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  6. Lafemmeroar says:

    This is such a beautifully written piece! Touching, heartwarming and inspiring. This is my favorite:

    He could challenge you without over facing you, tease without attacking your confidence and smile at you in a way which was still credible to a doubting teen. In short, he was one of the good ones.

    I could comment on the technical aspects of structure and meter of this excerpt–I read it out loud and it was beautiful. You are such a great writer … Tweeting this now 🙂

    Like

    • Lovely thing to say. and thanks for the tweeting thing. I am trying to compile a list of cutting exits I’ve made for you, so you can add them to your collection, after your really great post on that theme

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  7. Al says:

    You never disappoint, ducks. What a remarkable account of such a meaningful reminiscence. When I read your posts, I always feel like I’m getting chapters from a best-selling book for free.

    Here’s to Albert and all others like him!

    Like

  8. nelle says:

    Homage to someone who touched your life. I liked that you reflected on how he touched yours. We all should spend some time in rewind, looking at those who made a difference, because none of us ever gets here from there without some assistance.

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  9. renxkyoko says:

    There are people like that. I really have not met one ( or have I ? ) but my mother has told us about an old street sweeper who continued to sweep the street long after he had retired. It’s a touching story , actually. I hope I can write about him, as told by my mother.

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  10. backonmyown says:

    You make me wish I had known Albert. “…tease without attacking your confidence…” Now we know where you learned to do that. It’s a wonderful gift.

    I don’t know how you manage to turn a phrase like “much more bulk than mass.” I wish I could do that. You do it regularly. That’s why I so look forward to your posts.

    Like

    • Everytime you look in the mirror, you are looking at a women of great determination, compassion and ability. Being able to scribble a few phrases is nice but not the main gift a person can have. You have much to be proud of

      Like

  11. eof737 says:

    I like Albert… and maybe it’s an age thing but I’m tired of the bragging set too. 🙂

    Like

  12. Julie says:

    My favorite part of this post was when you wrote you still smiled thinking about him. That transmitted a smile on my part too. He sounds like a person to be admired. He is also quite worthy of your post, probably thankful too.

    Julie

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  13. There is so much strutting these days and such a relief when, like a soft steady breeze or splash of warming sunlight, someone just IS and we are the better for it. Yes, in so many ways, less is more. Another beautifully written, thought-provoking and soul-searching post!

    Like

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