Friday, September 18, 2009

Celebrating Peace, Love and Uncle Al

On August 28, 2009 we lost our Uncle Al at 63 years young to a dissecting aortic aneurysm, the same condition that almost took my dad's life 9 years ago. We have all felt such a profound loss in our lives now, but Al would want us to celebrate his life, not mourn for him. So that is what we have tried to do. This is my favorite picture of my favorite uncle- shining in the sun in Zion.
He was our mentor and was so fortunate to live in the most beautiful place in the world. We often took trips to Zion, staying with Al, and had the opportunity to explore this land that he loved in a way that most people never do.
Atop the peak next to Johnson, one of my favorite times hiking with Al. This is the area just behind his house, and from this view we pointed out many of the other peaks we would plan to bag together. We never thought our time would run out so soon.
His funeral was held at the Springdale cemetery, a beautiful place to be laid to rest. His wishes were to return to the earth in the most natural possible way- not embalmed, buried in a pine box, with no nails.
My father's tribute to his brother was very touching. He spoke about the reunion he hoped Al was having with his mother and other brother who preceded him in death. Half of my dad's family has now passed away.
An impromptu indian flute piece "Amazing Grace" by one of Al's comrades from the paramedic/ firefighter group he was a part of. Adrienne's husband Dave and daughter Davenne in the background.
Bench cousins.
Al's daughter Adrienne felt that it would be more personal if the members of the family helped bury him, rather than some random workers. It was very emotional but felt like the right thing to do.
Later that evening we had an informal gathering at the park where people from the town of Springdale and those that had traveled from very far away to pay tribute to Al by sharing memories and stories. This is Dick Dotey sharing a piece of amazingly detailed leather work done by Al, the artisan.
The Bench family reunion.
Avery, Adrienne's darling little boy was delighted to see his great-grandpa. Family connections.
Al's collection of cochina dolls from Hopi land. He traded cottonwood root and other goods with the indians. Al gave us one of these special pieces as a wedding gift.
Feeling the love in Zion.
We have been so lucky to stay here with Al at his house so many times. Coming to Zion just won't be the same again.
But we will always cherish our times with Al and know that his memory will be here forever.


Missy B. said...

So sorry for your loss. Uncle Al looks like he was such a special, wonderful, thoughtful, person who was loved by many. Your story and pictures brought tears to my eyes. I hope that each day that you hike in Zion his spirit will be with you.


Nancy said...

Al was really a great guy. He had the best stories. He was a noteable craftsman. I hope he knew while he lived, how many people will miss him.