Wednesday, March 3, 2010

There's more irony than you can find in a steel mill in the reaction to Al Weisel's death

I have just learned of the death of Al Weisel via a post by Tom Watson. (H/T Sadly, No!.)

Now I never knew Al Weisel, but it turns out that I did. You see, Weisel blogged under the alter ego Jon Swift.

I first heard of Swift several years ago, and this November 2007 post, written back when I was myself blogging under a pseudonym, is somewhat ironic. After noting that Facebook had temporarily removed Jon Swift's Facebook account because Jon Swift wasn't his real name, I proceeded to express my opinion.

Can I let you in on a little secret? "Emperor" is not my real last name, and my parents didn't name me "Ontario" when I was born.

(OK, you can catch your breath now.)

Yet "Ontario Emperor" has been my primary online persona since 1998.

I'm not going to sacrifice nine years of my online identity to meet Facebook's rules - especially if they don't believe in social networking.

Well, less than two years later I did join Facebook, under my real name. So much for my consistency.

But to compound the irony, Tom Watson's post included a link to a Facebook group. But let me back up a bit before talking about the Facebook group.

Al was on the way to his father's funeral in Virginia when he suffered a sudden aortic aneurysm and underwent several surgeries in an attempt to save his life. Sadly, they did not succeed.

The Facebook group appears to have been created before Weisel passed away.

I need to dig back into my old posts and comments - I'm pretty sure that "Swift" and I interacted on at least one occasion.

But let me go to a March 2009 post in Jon Swift's blog, in which he talked about suffering a terrible loss (the death of Chuck Butcher's son). As you scroll down through the March 2009 comments, you find a number of expressions of sadness. The expressions continued for several months, but then all of a sudden this comment appeared:

I don't know how else to tell you all who love this blog. I am Jon Swift's Mom and I guess I'm going to OUT him. He was Al Weisel, my beloved son. Al was on his way to his father's funeral in VA when he suffered 2 aortic aneurysms, a leaky aortic valve and an aortic artery dissection from his heart to his pelvis. He had 3 major surgeries within 24 hours and sometime during those surgeries also suffered a severe stroke. We, his 2 sisters, his brother, his partner and his best friend since he was 9 years old were with him as he took his last breath. We have all lost a shining start who warmed our hearts, tormented us and made us laugh as he giggled at our pulling something over on us. He passed away on February 27, 2010. My beloved child will live on in so many hearts. I miss him more than I can say. If you are on Facebook, go to organizations and join "Friends of Al Weisel, Unite!" It will give you just a taste of how special he was. Farewell, Jon (Al)
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