Marc Alberts: OUR little brother
I know I speak for several good friends of the Alberts family when I say that I am beyond disappointed and apologetic that I am unable to be there with you all today. Personally, I have enough short stories to fill an entire bestselling comedy series about Marc Alberts. Marky was someone who enjoyed every second of time he had on earth, never sitting around, always doing, always moving, always smiling and creating fun-filled memories for others. There are so many memories I could share, but today I will simply revisit the first day we met.
The year was 1998. I had just made a new acquaintance in the 5th grade; a well-fed, Italian boy, sporting a razor sharp crew cut, who had just moved to town. We met through recess and soon began hanging out together at school. By mid-year he was officially part of the tight knit pack of Dean S. Luce fifth grade boys, five years in the making. My new buddy’s name was Mike Alberts.
On the day of my very first weekend play date with Mike, my mother and I made the short trip up Sherman street and pulled in the newly paved driveway at 636 Pleasant Street. I couldn’t have been more excited to bond with my new friend on his turf. Immediately, I noticed the pristine front lawn. It was beautifully manicured with great precision. Someone had been taking great care of that lawn and at the end of that driveway, I saw that someone. A tall man, gold chained, tanned, barefoot, shirtless with nothing more than a bandana on his head and short shorts around his waist. He quickly came over to my mother’s car window to greet us. With a great big smile and open hand he quickly said, “Hey I am Paul Alberts, you must be Alison and Matt. Don’t worry Al, your son is going to have a great time, alright Ally Cat? Alright Al? Alright Ally Cat? Hey Matty how ya doin? How ya doin? Good?” No one has ever called my mom these nicknames before, never mind on the first breath, and we were taken aback for a moment by his overwhelming charisma and vigor. Although this man was quite a fascinating site in his own right, someone else was about to steal the show…
Standing beside the man was his identical twin, but a ‘mini-me’ of sorts, shadowing his every move. Shirt off, tanned, short shorts wearing, no shoes on. This was not my friend. Who was this little tan being? He was accurately mimicking the older man’s theatrics; waving his hands all around, frequently escalating the volume of his voice, and jumbling his words as fast as he could, trying to keep up with his old man. Pauly at some point stops making up nicknames for my mom and says, “Marc, I swear… Get back in the house now!! Go get your brother! His friend is here.” Marc quickly replied, “You swore! You swore! Daddy swore! Daddy swore! Hahaha!” As he exited the driveway, he sang this line again and again, jumping up and down, clicking his heels, as if he had just won the lottery. This ladies and gentleman was a 9 year old Marc Anthony Alberts… not a far cry from the 26-year-old version don’t you think?I said goodbye to my mother and followed Pauly into his newly constructed home. Wow! The interior of the home was something out of a magazine and it all smelt so fresh and new. His wife, Pauline, had furnished the home with the finest things and her and her husband’s attention to detail was prevalent throughout every room. However, the energetic, little tan man from before was nowhere to be found. Although my friend, my official play-date buddy, I spotted right away…. Sleeping on the couch of course, with an empty bowl of ice cream on the floor. It was 11am on a sunny Saturday morning, and we were 11 years old and this kid looked like he just pulled a double and was trying to catch a quick catnap before returning to work. “Mike your friend is here!” his father yelled down to him several times. Finally, Mike gave me a lethargic wave. He looked comfy, nestled deep into his sofa and who was I to disturb that. I looked up at his father for guidance. Pauly simply shook his head, smiled down at me, and went back outside to tend to that beautiful patch of grass (not his hair in this case).
“Hi! Hi! Hi!” came from under the dining room table. There, sitting Indian style, hugging the leg of a chair, sat the little tan man from before. He was sporting what resembled the lingering green tinge of a fading black eye and he wore a curious and glowing childish smile from ear to ear. “Hi! Hi! I’m Marc you want to play with me!? I have toys, new ones too! Upstairs. Outside. Mikey will be sleeping for a while. I know,” he said with confidence. I told Marc I would love to play with him while we waited for his older brother to wake up from his snooze. Marc was thrilled at this news and we proceeded out to the back yard to play. As soon as we reached the base of the back stairs, this little tan man went bonkers. Running around the yard, screaming, wrestling with their dog, throwing things in the air, offering me any toys or sticks or balls I wanted to play with. Every once in a while I would hear his father yell from the front lawn. “Marc! Cool it! Jeeezz…” and mumble a few more interesting words. Marc would yell back, “OK!” in a very unapologetic tone, and continued to be the rambunctious 9 year old that he was.Then Marc asked me if I wanted to see how many stairs he could jump down from, pointing to the home’s attached decking and adjacent stairs flowing to the backyard. I obviously did. This kid was great! I thought, “I love jumping off of stuff!” I started by jumping down from second step. Then Marc jumped from the third, then I did the fourth, then he did the fourth. I believe I did the sixth step successfully (may have cheated and held the railing) and that was when Marc had seen enough. He yelled, “Watch this!” He went a few steps higher stepping onto the decking itself, calmly walked back to the slider door, turned around and just went for it — no hesitation — full speed, yelling as he flung himself off the top step, flying through the air.
He had cleared all of the steps and the concrete ‘death’ pad below and instantaneously went into a flawless tuck and roll as he hit the ground, coming right back up to his feet. I remember he had the biggest grin staring back at me, so impressed with himself. He may have been a little hurt, but more importantly was I impressed?… I was astonished. Who was this crazy, tanned, monkey child? He made that jump look effortless, as if he could have just thrown a back flip in there too, no sweat. And had I asked of that, he most certainly would have tried it. As he did with most things in life, Marc was a natural at everything he touched but he was truly driven by one ultimate objective; your happiness. When he saw you smile, it only widened his own, and that was the essence of Marc Alberts.
Just then, a severely fatigued Mike Alberts, wearing an ice cream mustache came to the rear, slider door and looked down at us jumping around in the back yard. He seemed semi-annoyed with all this commotion his little brother was creating. “Hey, you guys want to eat? Mom is home with Elisa and they bought T-Spa,” he said. We ran up the stairs that Marc had just conquered a moment ago to a captivated audience of just one, and proceeded to enjoy the daily feast and joyful setting that the Alberts family provided for me for many years to come. I went home that day not only making my friendship stronger with my future best friend, but also solidifying a place in my heart for his kid brother, my kid brother – a kid brother to all of us, Marc Anthony Alberts.
Marc truly felt that his purpose on this earth was to make everyone else smile even if he risked succumbing to his own personal injuries, it didn’t matter. As long as he got a rise out of you, he was satisfied. He wanted you all to laugh at his antics, be impressed at his incredibly diverse, natural skill set, and frankly just for you to love and accept him. He was the epitome of the tag-along little brother, following us around like a puppy wherever we went. He would try to do anything that we were doing, and push it even further. He was never one to shy away from pushing the limits. In his mind he knew he could not just push the doorbell and then hide in the bushes to watch. No no no – he also had to bang on all the windows, and then, when the poor unsuspecting ‘ding-dong-ditch’ victim came to their doorway, he would perform cartwheels on their front lawn, singing, with his shirt off….hmm where did I see this before? But hey, even the most annoyed unwilling participant usually cracked a smile for the little, lovable Marc Alberts… before they gave him the hose.So Marc we say goodbye on this day. I will always remember you as my own little brother who would literally go to the store the very next day and purchase whatever hobby I was into that year. Whether it was snowboards, motorcycles, sports cars, it didn’t matter. You loved it all and wanted to know everything about your new purchase. You were a sponge, my sponge, and you were so captivated by what I knew (…okay let’s face it, what I made up) that you would call me all the time for advice when you were tinkering on something new. I really hope you knew how much that meant to me – it literally meant the world. I will never receive another one of those phone calls from you again asking for my guidance and this hurts me deeply, but I know that while you were here, Mike let me share the coolest, kindest, funniest kid brother I could have ever imagined and I am so grateful for the time I had with you. Love you, Marky.
Marc Alberts: OUR little brother