I met Albert Berman through my husband and his family. I met Al sometime in 2005-2006, when I was about 18 years old.
Al and my father-in-law worked together. Al even lived with my in-laws for a portion of George’s childhood. I recall a few stories I’ve heard from those days, including my mother-in-law encouraging Al to “stretch” (in reference to changing a diaper), and my husband endearingly saying, “I lub you, Owl.”
Of course little George loved “Owl.” Loving Al is easy. He is generous. He is hilarious. He is passionate. He is so, so thoughtful!
Though I don’t remember the first time I met Al, I have a feeling it revolved around a car repair. Al is a self-taught doctor for cars. I can honestly say I don’t know anybody as determined as Al. If he doesn’t know how to fix something, he will camp out at the Dallas Public Library, eBay, and even online car mechanic chatrooms to figure it out.
I went north out of my Texas bubble to the University of Oklahoma for college. George and I were a 2.5 hour long distance couple for that period of time. Reliable transportation was key for our relationship. Unfortunately, George’s car had countless problems. Al helped fix every one. And, when I bought my first car (shortly after landing my first “big girl job” out of college), I chose a used BMW, which was beautiful and fun to drive, and totally dependable because of all the free maintenance Al poured into it. I literally never had to pay the exorbitant prices the dealer charges because I could depend on good ‘ol Al to come through. Usually, I would get special treatment, and he would return it detailed and looking brand new, even after it was 10 years old.
Al’s handiwork is not limited to cars, and not limited to me. He helped us install beautiful French doors in our first home, he has helped my in-laws with various home + car projects, and I know he has even helped his ex-wife around her home with necessary maintenance and repairs.
Anytime Al works on anything of mine, he explains in detail what he is doing, and truth-be-told, I typically tune him out. That sounds really rude, but let me explain.
First of all, I have zero desire to learn, secondly, the subject material is always over my head, and finally (and most importantly), I trust Al to complete the job better than anybody else, eventually. I have absolute faith that no obstacle will ever hold him back from a beautiful completion of a project, because I have seen him overcome every single problem, every single time. So when he is explaining the reason a circuit is shorting, or an angle isn't just right, I nod and smile, and then ask him to stick around for dinner. I make him a hot plate, and he tells me how delicious it is, and I tell him how grateful I am for his help. This is our dance.
Al is not only generous with his time, he is also generous with his money. He SPOILS my daughters! And I love it! Lilah Grace and I go to Target multiple times a week, and every time, I allow her to look at and hold the toys, and every time she has to put them back. When she goes to Target with “Fantasy GrandDad,” (he named himself this so he doesn’t have to follow our parenting rules) she gets to take home the toys. He doesn’t even look at the price tag. Last time we went to Target together, he also got me a Target gift card. I told him, “No, I can’t accept this, you’re already too generous,” and the cashier told me, “Let him do this. I wish I had my dad so I could let him do it. He wants to.” She was choked up, and I’m pretty sure Al was, too. I felt like she was an angel reminding us to give and receive love while we have one another on this planet. Al and I talked about how it was a spiritually moving experience, and I’m so grateful we had that moment together.
I didn’t know a person could be generous in so many different ways until I knew Al. He is generous with his time and money, but also with his compliments and support. Anybody who has a Facebook knows this to be true. Albert Berman has NO PROBLEM DOTING ON A PURDY, PURDY WOMAN WITH A WOWEE-KEE-FLOWEE and a HOLY BAZOLY to make her feel good about herself. Or, if I make a controversial political post, while I can count on many people to “unfollow” me, and a few people to banter with me, I can always count on Albert Berman to remind me HOW MANY FRIENDS I HAVE and HOW SMART I am. We laugh about Al’s ALL CAPS but the truth is, I couldn’t feel more supported or more loved. And honestly, when I’m 80, if I can keep up with the technology as well as he has, I will be damn proud of myself. I think my favorite Facebook post Al has made was of a black and white Gina Lollobrigida, tagging my mom, telling her Gina Lollobrigida would have been jealous of her.
Everyone who knows Al knows he has a love for jazz music. He introduced me to Sarah Vaughn, and when he played a song for me (probably 5 years ago or so), I teared up at the lyrics. He knew I would! Sarah Vaughn started singing in her sultry voice, "In this world of ordinary people, and extraordinary people, I'm glad there is you." For our first dance at our wedding, George and I chose to dance to this song as an ode to Al. I'll always think of Al when I hear old jazz music, or see old black and white photos of New York. Al just got back from visiting his daughter and grandson in NYC, and he scooped me up a bag and scarf from the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. So thoughtful. So New York. So Al.
I love Albert Berman. I have such a warm spot in my heart for him. He has shown me so much love, support, and generosity over the past 11 or so years that I’ve been fortunate enough to know him. When I look at Al, I always forget his age. He turned 80 this month. EIGHTY YEARS OLD. What?! I feel like I need to double check that again, and I must be wrong. He has never looked better. What other 80 year old do you know who is so forward thinking and so open to learning from the younger generations? He has such a zest and passion for life. He is the perfect blend of old school masculine + hip progressivism. I know his children and grandchildren make his world go ‘round. He brags on them all the time! And I know Al and I aren’t related by blood, but when I think of my family and when I refer to “the village,” Al is definitely part of it. He has showered me and my family with love, and I just hope to do the same now for him.
I lub you, Owl. Happy 80th birthday.