I’m not really sure where to start this except to say that I am just heart-broken. Andrew has always held a special place in my heart, though I’m not sure I knew why until I began reflecting over the past few days. Sure, we held a family connection and generational closeness which drew us together by default but as children, we genuinely enjoyed one another’s company. Or, at least, I enjoyed his. That’s not to say we shared many of the same interests, but there was something about Andrew that drew me to him.
Most of what I remember about him is from our time with Birdye at the beach. We both spent quite a bit of time down there. I remember Birdye slathering us with sunscreen until we shone white. (I’m not sure why she could never seem to rub it in -- perhaps it was the utter volume of the stuff). She’d let us play in the sun during the morning hours which was usually when Andrew and I would set off on an adventure collecting random junk. We’d walk up and down the beach for hours collecting bottle caps and seeing who could find the rarest one. Not seashells -- bottlecaps. I’m pretty sure Andrew came up with that idea and I just went along for the ride. I always did, because he always knew exactly what he wanted to do and threw himself fully into whatever it was. Even as a child, I found that incredibly refreshing. I hid away one or two of the rarer bottle caps and kept them for years. Man I wish I could find one now.
I remember racing to the silverware drawer at lunch, trying to beat our brothers to the “s-curvy” forks. There were only two of them and they looked so much cooler than the others. I’m not sure Chan or Ben even knew it was a contest, but we did. After lunch, Birdye insisted the sun was too hot, so we’d play with old spice jars under the cottage. We’d dig holes, or make roads or sort the morning’s collection. In the afternoon we’d collect our spare change and walk all the way to John’s for an ice cream cone (scanning for bottle caps along the way). I’m pretty sure we got in trouble for that once because we didn’t tell anyone where we were going.
In the evenings we’d play cards (war, rummy or rook); chinese checkers; or just read. I remember Birdye always had cardboard and Andrew loved to make elevator control pads. We’d rummage through drawers and cabinets to find supplies to make them and then stick them up outside every room. I’m sure that drove Birdye batty but she didn’t complain too much. Again, alone, I never would have done this type of stuff, but he had the idea and threw himself into it, so I went along. Honestly, it was fun. It seems quirky and foolish, but we had a blast. He didn’t care what it looked like to outsiders and that attitude was contagious.
And that, is what I have come to determine I appreciate most about Andrew. I have never met another human being more true to himself than he was. He possessed a bravery that pushed him to do what he intended no matter the opposition or perception. I wish I could be like that.
Observing his adult decisions I was in awe and somewhat jealous. If he wanted to take up a hobby, he did it -- all the way. If he wanted to visit a place, he went. If he wanted to do something no one else had ever done, he tried it. He wasn’t afraid things would fail. Of course, he was so brilliant he could do nearly anything he really wanted to.
I didn’t spend much time with him in adulthood, just a holiday here and there. I remember the first time he met Ashton. I gave her to him to hold. He looked like he was holding a time bomb! I’ll never forget the look of confusion and almost terror on his face.
I remember that he wasn’t really a hugger, but I am so he complied. They were never very fulfilling hugs...always bony and stiff, but I knew it took a lot for him to do it in the first place. It was a gesture of kindness I appreciated.
It was harder for us to interact as adults -- I think time and space and life circumstances placed an awkward wedge between us. I remember he would just sort of stand close to me at family gatherings. We’d make small talk for a while, but it was harder then. I think if we’d had some cardboard or something it would’ve made things easier.
He was brilliant, brave, humble and a wonderful example of what it means to be true to oneself. These are the things I will forever remember and miss about Andrew. Next time I am at the beach, I’ll be scanning the sand but I won’t be searching for seashells...