Notes from Andy's Memorial



I want to talk about three ways I remember Andy that I think capture his core essence: Andy the Hunchback, Andy the Romantic and Andy the Hero. But first I will just say that the first thought that hit me after learning the news, and the one that will stay with me always, is - I have lost half my childhood memory. In recent years especially, Andy and I have been a kind of memory tag team. He would write me about a memory and I would fill in what I remember and then he would add to that, and so on and so forth, but he had such a great mind, and always remembered so much more than me. I could never keep up with him.

The first way of remembering Andy - Andy the Hunchback - actually has first to do with this church because Andy's gifts were affirmed here in many ways, thanks to people like Pat Palmer who recognized his love for music and used his gifts with the guitar often. But his real star role came every year at Halloween when he would dress up like the Hunchback and sneak around the church, slipping through hallways scaring people to death. He just loved those budget monster movies and horror flicks and I will always remember his glee at popping his hand out the front of the jacket like so, and making us all jump.

The second, Andy the Romantic, I will never forget because Andy had such a unique way of expressing his affections. You knew when you had been gifted by Andy - you received a hand-written letter with words from the heart (if you were really lucky the writing was calligraphic) and with it was a piece of flint or some other odd natural artifact you probably never saw before. I lost many a friend to Andy - friends would come over to the house and then Andy would come down the stairs with his guitar, and I knew it was all over. Next time they called the house, it would be for Andy!

[ I forgot to tell one of my favorite stories at the service. One time Andy wanted to impress one of our fellow counselors at daycamp and so one day as we sat on the field bleachers during a free time after lunch, he walked across the football field for about 45 minutes, then walked up and presented her with a whole jar full of 4 leaf clovers. How does one ever forget that?]

The third, Andy the Hero, sounds like a basic big brother story, but in my mind it is so much more. Those who knew Andy, remember he was a nocturnal animal, and when we were growing up he use to emerge from his room about 10:00 p.m., after everyone else went to bed, and make his way to the kitchen where he would fix a spread and begin his school work. If I was having particular problems with my homework, I would just wait for him to emerge and he would walk by me in the dining room and see my distressed look and no matter what the problem, he would fix it in just a minute. But he was best at writing papers, and I will always remember how he would ask me what I wanted to say, and he would listen and listen, and then before long the words would just stream out of his mouth. He was especially good at English theme papers. Now this may not impress you, but let me tell you, sometimes I had not even read the book, and I would STILL get an "A" on my papers!

The last time Andy helped me out like this was actually just 10 years ago or so, after we were well into our professional careers. We were both home at the same time, and I was working on a client project late one night, and in walked Andy, and did his old routine, asking me what I was up to. He sat down and I began this long explanation of what I was trying to write about, but the situation was so complex, and I remember thinking, "well, it's not like it use to be when Andy would just fix everything." He just sat there, very quiet, (kind of chewing his teeth) and eventually I said goodnight and went to bed. The next morning, spread across the dining room table, was this amazing series of diagrams and flow charts depicting exactly what I had been trying to explain. Andy was now into this sort of thing in his professional work. You can imagine my amazement. And of course, my client was very impressed with my work!

In closing I want to share that while I think we do not like to think about the last minutes of Andy's life, I feel quite certain that Andy approached this like he approached much of life - as a scientist. When we were growing up, we use to fill a pew on Sunday morning. We lived close by, so we would all sort of straggle in piece by piece. But what the preacher might not have known was that following the service, dad, a science teacher, would always deliver the sermon- after-the-sermon, and he would always put a scientific spin on the message. While I took a theological interest in the questions of life, Andy took a scientific interest. He was fascinated by all that was beyond human understanding, the big mysteries of the universe, and much of his energy came from his love for the great beyond. What I am trying to say is that I know that Andy was ready to meet his maker, and in fact, I believe when the moment came, he was ready, even greatly excited to finally penetrate one of the great mysteries. Perhaps he would of liked a moment to come back and say, "Robert, you gotta see this - this is great material!" or deliver a few words of wisdom to Bryson, or perhaps let mom and dad know that everything was going to be alright. But ultimately, I believe Andy's love for nature and the scientific questions, more than prepared him for his final journey.


Nancy J. Hess Associates