I looked through my photos and came up with this one I shot while on the ferry to Elba. He looked to be having a fine time.
Having never met Al in person, I only know him from his posts, our many PMs and the pictures folks have posted over the years (and here in this thread).
I think I love this photo that WLeuthold posted the best. While the other pics show Al by his scooter, eating with friends, laughing at a joke... this one shows an inner contentment that was instantly apparent to anyone who ever met him (even via PM).
The people I've meet that seem to have caused the most disturbance and upheaval in my life seem to have all been twitchy, nervous folks full of self-doubt, personal prejudices and half-formed ideas.
Al was the polar opposite.
Though vivacious and energetic, he exuded calm, thoughtful introspection and level-headedness. He was open to new information and ideas; even if they challenged long held beliefs. But he brooked no evasion or superstitions. Al worshiped at the alter of empirical data, repeatable experiences and leaving nothing to chance.
He must have been a hell of a pilot. And not surprisingly, he also seems to have been a hell of a friend.
This pic with Al basking in the warm sunlight on his face... breathing in the scent of a sea breeze... listening intently to the sound of distant surf... that
is the look of contentment.
If one frequently feels that things are amiss or out of sorts in their life, and that contentment seems like an illusive, unattainable goal... keeping this picture handy as a reminder of what deep personal contentment really looks like, wouldn't be the worst idea in the world.
Nobody knows for sure where we go when we're gone... but I'd like to think it is a place with a warm sun, pleasant smells and the soft sound of distant surf.
And Al will be waiting there for us with a good story and a great meal.