2005-10-24: Albert McKie
On Sunday October 23rd, 2005,at 2:15 pm, my grandfather, Albert Walter McKie died.
He loved roses and model trains. He was a big, big man with an eye for detail and sensitivity for delicate woodwork in his fingers. I remember him laughing and joking in his New York dairy-land accent, which fell away when he talked of serious things. He was the first adult I (over)heard swear, and I was suddenly aware that adults had lives beyond the scope of children. At the time, he was talking on the phone with my mother, and I was also suddenly aware that the relationship with one's parents must change over time. Amazing. He was widely read, and knew how a building was constructed by looking at it. I've known my whole life that his relationship with my mother was badly strained in her early adulthood, but also that he was a moderating source of freedom and escape for her as a teen living with my very religious grandmother. I'm deeply glad Mom and Grandpa had, in recent decades, become close, loving family again.
He was the definition of strength to me; physically large and fit and strong. I swear he was 60 before his dark wavy hair went fully gray, and his twinkling blue eyes made him 'a catch' even then. I've always loved the story of how he swooped by and stole my grandmother's comb at the roller rink - how they first met. I only saw him on skates once that I recall, but wow could he skate! Circles, eights, backwards, waltzing. He never looked rushed or flushed, just effortlessly flowed across the floor. That he had such grace was another wonderful discovery. When I was 18, he drove me all the way to Indiana to visit a possible college, then drove all the way back the same night. To the very end, he was a man who gave of himself and his skills whenever possible; he thought nothing of driving out four hours to help Serena frame up her house all day in the bitter cold, or years earlier, drive across the country with all our belongings when we moved to San Diego. The bits and pieces of him I have and know, I treasure, and I'm really, really sad about all the things I'll never know first hand.
2005-10-24 19:38:50 Brand Robins
My condolences. I don't know your exact take on such things, so I will ask before doing: do you mind if I say prayers asking for comfort and strength for your family?
2005-10-24 20:24:01 Meguey
Brand, your thoughfulness is touching. I've never minded positive support and good energy under any name. Pray, chant, meditate, burn incense, walk in the woods - all are welcome.
I'm glad, in a way, that my Grandfather went first, because my Grandma has a stronger, wider community and she'll be alright, whereas he would have been rudderless.
2005-10-25 02:01:49 Annie and Tom
We're very sad to hear that and we're sending along our condolences and our love.
2005-10-25 03:18:29 Ben Lehman
2005-10-25 13:52:40 Emily
I'm glad I was able to meet him. I'll never forget him driving out on his own to bring the beautiful cabinets he made for our house, and even bring out huge pieces of marble I'd have thought twice about lifting! He was an amazing man. He definitely lives on in his family.
All love to you and your family, Meg. My thoughts are with you.
2005-10-25 14:42:58 Troy_Costisick
My thoughts and prayers will be with you.
2005-10-25 15:26:27 ScottM
He sounds like a great man, a loss to us all. My condolences.
2005-10-25 15:48:13 Vincent
I didn't know about the rollerskating.
2005-10-25 16:45:19 Matt Wilson
Hey Mizz B, sorry to hear. Please accept a support hug from someone nearby on my behalf.
2005-10-25 17:14:01 Meguey
Thanks, all. I just talked to my sister for a long time (we're driving out this afternoon), and she was remembering asking him what it was like to retire from being an airplane parts inspector at Simmons, and that he cried as he talked about being replaced by a machine - the only time she'd ever seen him cry, and I never did. I spent a lot of the morning writing about him, and it's been good to stumble on bits I didn't know I knew, and gain insights about him in a new way.
2005-10-25 17:28:32 anon.
My dad was a very private man, a quiet,thoughtful man with a conspiratorial sense of humour. He was affectionate and engaged without being emotional (except when it came to his temper). For a long long time, there was only one time that I ever knew he had cried, and I'd caused it. I was stupid and irresponsible, self destructive and eighteen and landed myself in the hospital with blood alcohol poisoning. My dad had managed to the thing his dad had never done - to turn his back on a very bad relationship with alcohol years before I was born. It was my friends- my high school friends that saw him cry in the waiting room.
For years I felt terrible about that, still do. Though the strange guilty mystique passed when I actually saw it happen; it was Father's Day when he was terminally ill with lung/brain cancer. My sister had given him the album Swamp Ophelia and had played the song "Kind and Generous" for him, and he softly,quietly cried. It broke my heart.
I'mreally sorry for your loss, Meg. He sounds like a terrific man.
2005-10-26 02:09:39 Matt Schlotte
My condolences for you and your families loss Meg. He sounds like an amazing man. The sort of amazing man you hope all grandfathers can be.
2005-10-26 06:25:05 Judd
My grandfather, the one I was lucky enough to know, was also big and strong very late into his life. I still have two fedoras, one brown and one black that were his. The brown one fits but the black one doesn't. I'm not sure what that means.
This is my meandering way of saying, my condolences.
2005-10-26 08:46:36 Kaare
My grandfather died two years ago, I still have his number in my cellphone.
please accept my condolences.
2005-10-26 12:38:55 Clinton R. Nixon
My grandfather was my favorite man I knew. Stone-cold funny, you could never tell whether he was serious or not. I remember our last conversation, when his Parkinson's turned terminal.
He was looking at the Yellow Pages. I said, "What are you doing, Grandpa?"
He said, "Looking for someplace to go." He died a few weeks later.
I'm so sorry, Meg. Grandfathers are so special.
2005-10-26 14:43:51 Matt Snyder
I'm sorry to hear about your family's loss, Meg. In a lot of ways, your grandfather reminds me of my own grandfather, who died about three years ago now. My sympathies to you.
2005-10-28 21:59:46 James
It's always a strange sort of ache when someone close to you dies. I have a precious few memories of my one grandfather, and the other died before I have any reliable memory at all.
You're in our thoughts,
James (& Raven)
2005-10-29 22:55:05 Meguey
Thanks, everyone. I spent the week at my Grandmother's, along with all four of their kids, 7/8 of the grandkids, and all four great-grands, as well as a steady stream of extended family and friends. At his funeral, there were people who had pumped his gas for years, his old boss and co-workers from before he retired, clerks for where he always bought milk in returnable glass bottles (save up 45 return recipts and get a free gallon of ice-cream!), and his whole model rail-road club that he'd met with once a week for 20 years. Over 200 people signed the condolence book.
I could write a ton about him, and it wouldn't be enough. I know more about my family now than I ever did; I talked more with my uncle in 48 hours than in the prior 34 years, and finally really got to know my cousins, who up till now had been in too different a place in life, being 10-14 years younger. His death was a huge loss, but the connection that resulted was his last great gift to us all.
2005-10-31 09:15:38 Matt Schlotte
It is unfortunate how it happened, but I am happy for you that much good has come of this event for you.
All I have to say is take care of yourself Meg.
2005-11-03 02:59:34 sammy
My condolences, and love. I'm glad that you were able to share memories with him with family and friends.