Al was about ten years old when George was born. Growing up Al was mischievous, but good hearted. In German, they called it Haus Teufel, Gassen Engel: house devil, street angel. I only knew the street angel, but I am starting to believe Mom now that I have had the pleasure of getting to know Al's grandchildren and in particular his youngest grandson, who will peal with laughter when he is poised to do something that his mother absolutely and clearly does not want him to do.
He and Mom each called each other Todfeind Nummer Eins: Enemy to the death number one (when translated literally). Updated - I forgot to mention that when they became adults, Mom and Al were good friends.
As a child, Al was sickly and somehow through tyranny and wartime, he grew into a healthy and still mischievous but good hearted young man. He was compassionate - he really listened to the person talking and tried to offer support. That said, he was also fastidious in his work and could never sit still. He also had a great gift of being able to take the anger out of a bad situation. That may have been completely natural, but if so, I am sure he put it to good use when my grandfather's schnapps started disappearing, little bit by little bit.
He had a sense of humor. He could tell a joke, but he was the kind of man who appreciated one.
He and his wife, my aunt, raised four lovely daughters. Imagine the poor guy at the dinner table! Five females talking over each other - having several conversations simultaneously. Sometimes he said "Enough!"
He worked in telecommunications, but he was gifted with art and music. I think these contributed to his gift of compassion.
Al and his younger brother George would be the ones who would make sure that their parents had a Christmas tree every year. Christmas in Germany is the big holiday/ holy day of the year. In those days, Protestant families were more apt to have a tree than Catholic, but even though they were Catholic, the brothers made sure that there was a nice tree every year that they could.
[A side note - in those days, the tree was brought in on Christmas Eve (also called Holy Evening). It would be taken into a living room, the doors would be closed and the tree would be decorated. Then in the evening, a bell would ring, and the children would be told that the Christ child has come with the presents.]
Al came to this country legally. He was a young man. His cousins, who had been here years before, helped him to find a job in telecommunications. He married, had four daughters (as I'd said above) and each young lady went to and graduated from college.
He died suddenly in 2002 of a massive heart attack. We miss him very much, but I find happy memories when my cousin laughs and I hear my uncle's distinctive laugh in her mirth, or when any of the grandchildren are particularly mischievous.
George was much younger when he came to this country; he was only fourteen. Being so young, he had an energy and joy that was infectious. We loved going to see Uncle George. We loved seeing Uncle Al, but George didn't mind acting silly. We loved visiting him in college- we thought it was funny that he and his roommate enjoyed watching "George of the Jungle". He'd play games with us, make us laugh and helped us to find the fun in whatever we were doing. As George grew older, the silly side of him was less in view. That's completely understandable. But we were always glad when it would peek out here and there.
George also was and is a good man. But where Al was moved by art and music, George found his interest in science. He earned a graduate degree, worked hard and started and ran his own business. George and his wife have a son, who is doing wonderfully as a young doctor.
We received a call last night that George is very sick. He'd been treated for another medical problem and the doctors found that he has lung cancer. It is not operable and we are waiting to hear what options the doctors can and will try.
We are devastated and would be grateful for your prayers.
Thank you to everyone who has sent in kind thoughts and prayers already!