Remembering Andy

Posted: July 31, 2016 in Inspiration, Life, Things I Love
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I lost one the best friends I’ve ever had yesterday. He was a guy that, when he walked up to me, AndoFaceeverything became better. He could light up a room like nobody I’ve ever known, simply with his personality. He was funny, smart, tough as nails, and as loyal a friend as you could ever ask for . . .

I first met Andy Anderson probably 50-years ago, when his Uncle Jigger began dating my sister Karen. Andy and I played sports together, went on vacations together, partied together, and got in trouble together. Andy was one of those friends that you could call at the drop of a hat and he’d be there for you, ready to do whatever was necessary to make things right for you.

I don’t know anybody who ever met Andy that wasn’t drawn in by the sheer force of his personality. He was one of those people that, when he talked to you, you felt as if you were the only person in the room. That included people that he’d just met.

In reality he probably had maybe 4-5 genuine best friends, but I’ll bet 100 considered him their best friend. Make sense? That’s just how he made people feel.

The truth is that most people who knew him will tell you that they’d never really met anyone else quite like Andy.

Andy spent roughly half his life in Ohio and half in Florida, and he had many people who loved him in both states. I didn’t get to see Andy enough in Venice, but when I did it was like we were back in Bainbridge – people yelling out to him as we passed by or waving from their front yards.

Seems Andy had won over Venice, Florida just as he had Bainbridge, Ohio.

Some of my fondest memories as a kid are of Andy going on vacations with my family. We went to Florida a few times, and once took a memorable trip to Colorado. My parents loved Andy like everyone else and although they’re both 89-years old still tell stories about him. A particular favorite is the time Andy attempted to order a Brazier Burger at Dairy Queen and ordered a Brassiere Burger instead. My dad loved that one. Still tells the story to this day. He doesn’t remember everything but he sure remembers that one.

Andy was an amazing high school athlete who excelled at football, basketball and baseball, and was inducted into the Paint Valley Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. Andy even played some college baseball at Kent State University.

AndyTomMe

Tom, myself and Andy.

And Andy always, always had my back. One year I had been out at our County Fair hanging out with some friends. Later that night I decided to leave and was walking to my car alone. As I rounded a corner near the grandstand a group of guys from a rival high school stepped out of the shadows and blocked my way, ready to settle an old score. I was outnumbered probably 8 to 1, and I knew I was about to get a beatdown.

Then, as suddenly as they appeared the group stopped. I could tell they were looking over my shoulder, so I did the same. And there, appearing out of nowhere, stood Andy. He walked up, and without saying a word, stood beside me. The other guys then slowly walked around us and left, taking a wide berth as they did. 8 against 2? No problem. The presence of Andy had weighed the odds in my favor.

Make no mistake, as nice a guy as Andy was, he was the last guy you wanted to mess with.

Andy and I were involved in some crazy stuff over the years, and he was in the middle of several stories I’ve told right here on Shoe: Untied. I’ll give you links to a few of the more notable and most-read stories below:

OSU vs. Michigan and the Road Trip to End All Road Trips

This is the infamous trip that we all somehow survived. As always, Andy was right in the mix.

The Accidental B & E

In this little saga you’ll see how Andy, through sheer power of confidence and brashness, saved myself and a couple of others from going to the slammer.

The Festival of Leaves Parade and the Legend of the Renegade Float

This is the story of Andy, myself and some friends and the time we built our own float and crashed a local festival parade. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Oh, believe me, there are plenty more stories to tell.

There was the time Andy, Tom and I decided we were going to catch the infamous 22-Caliber Killers, a couple of brothers that had been murdering people around the Columbus, Ohio area.  We actually cruised the neighborhoods looking for suspicious vehicles and stuff. Yeah, this happened. Hell, it’s a wonder we weren’t arrested that night.

And one day soon I’ll tell you the story of Ando stealing the bathroom door from a local watering hole called The Silver Lady. I’ll never forget the owner telling us later, “Boys, you’re welcome to come back to my place anytime. But please, PLEASE, would you mind bringing my bathroom door back with you?”

The NC trip. I drove most of the way.

The NC trip. I drove most of the way.

On another occasion Andy and I were getting ready to take a trip to North Carolina. As always, Andy was hyped up, full of excitement for the trip. He was so pumped he made a promise he’d make the entire drive himself, all I had to do was relax and enjoy the ride. We left from my house in Bourneville at midnight for the 12-hour drive, and as we pulled out I settled in on the passenger side, falling asleep after a few minutes. Sometime later I was awakened by Andy, and the following conversation ensued:

“Shoe, I can’t make it man. I’m wiped out.”

“Uh, OK Ando, no problem. Where are we?”

It was then I looked up and saw the sign by the road that said “Piketon, OH”.

Piketon is 24-miles from Bourneville. Andy had driven 33-minutes before tuckering out, and I never let him forget it.

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know about Andy and I. We were undefeated at Chicken Fighting. Hell yes we were. Chicken Fighting is where one guy hops up on another guy’s back and takes on another pair of guys. The goal is to knock the other pair down. Hey, I was 6-2, 210 and Andy was 5-9, 240 but he was always the bottom guy. The thing is, you could never knock Andy down. He was like a Weeble, he’d wobble but never fall over. Had a center of gravity like you read about. We once ran through about 20 straight fights at Plank’s Bar in Columbus, taking on all comers. Unbeaten and unbowed, baby.

Many, many years ago I was in Chillicothe, Ohio with a date. We were at The Majestic Theater, which is actually America’s oldest continuously operating theater. It’s beautiful, with a cool balcony, ornate decor, the works. I believe it was my first date with this particular girl. We were watching a movie and the place was packed. The movie might have been Jaws or maybe The Towering Inferno, I can’t be sure, probably because I missed the whole damn thing.

You know why?

Because some asshole was continually pelting me with Milk Duds from the balcony the entire time. I kept looking up trying to catch the jerk, with no luck. I would’ve gone up there but we were in the middle of the row and I didn’t want to disturb people, unlike the jackass up top. What made it worse is that whoever it was kept hitting not only me but people close to me. Like I said, movie ruined.

As soon as the lights came up I looked up to see if I could recognize the perpetrator, the Mild Dud Dickhead if you will. I was pissed.

Anyway, as I looked up wanna guess what I saw?

Yep.

There was Andy, peering over the balcony, pointing at me with a smile a mile wide. Dude thought it was the funniest thing ever.

I met Andy in the lobby afterwards, and his his date told me he missed the movie too. He was too busy running out and buying Milk Duds.

All I could do was shake my head and smile. Hell, I wasn’t even mad. After all, it was Andy.

The truth is we never had an argument in 50-years.

And this next story sort of embodies what a young Andy Anderson was like. He, Tom and I (yeah, those three again) were returning from Columbus one late night when we stopped at a roadside rest to use the bathroom. Tom and I were back in the car, waiting for Andy, but he was nowhere to be found. Finally, in our headlights we saw him. Actually we saw the cat first, with Andy following. He’d spotted a little stray kitten and decided it needed to be taken home and cared for, so he proceeded to chase that tiny cat around the roadside rest for the next 20-minutes, despite Tom and I screaming for him to get the hell back in the car.

He never caught the cat that night, but that was Andy – impulsive, caring, and never without a dull moment.

You know, I’ve heard it said that the quality of one’s life is much more important than the quantity, and I believe that. Believe me, Andy Anderson lived a full, vibrant life full of friends and family that loved him. His quality of life was unmatched.

Andy is gone, but trust me, nobody will ever forget him. His impact was so strong and lasting that he’ll be remembered forever by those who knew him. Try mentioning his name to anyone who knew him without getting a smile in return.

You can’t.

Last weekend I made the drive to Florida to see my friend for the last time. With me was Tom and my girlfriend Amanda. Amanda had only met Andy a couple of times but of course had fallen in love with him just like everybody else. We drove all night and day and arrived on Friday evening.

You need to know that Andy, Tom and I have a theme song, a song we sing to each other every time we see or call each other. That song is “I Will” by The Beatles. As Tom, myself and Amanda walked into the front door that day we could hear a voice from a couple rooms away.

It was Andy singing the opening lines to our song.

Tom and I just looked at each other and smiled. Here was our friend, sick and with not much time left, making us laugh the moment we walked through his front door.

I’ll always be grateful for those last couple of days with Andy. He knew he didn’t have much time left but he was the exact same guy I’d known for 50-years. He was funny, self-deprecating, and full of that one-of-a-kind Andy personality. We laughed and told stories, and yes, we cried.

Like I mentioned above, I believe it’s the quality and not the quantity of one’s life that counts. Anyone who knew Andy, from his old Ohio friends to the scores of friends he made in Florida, will tell you he had a rich, fulfilling life.

As we left last Saturday we hugged and kissed, basically saying goodbye for what we all knew would be the last time. As I walked out I turned around for one last look, and there he was, smiling at me as always.

You’re gone from this earth Andy, but as I said you’ll never, ever be forgotten. Hell, we couldn’t forget you if we tried.

To wife Cindi and daughter Ashlei, I’m so glad Andy found what he was looking for. He loved you with all his heart. I know you’re thankful for the time you had with him, even if it was cut short. Quality over quantity, right?

And to Ando, rest in peace my brother. Say hello to Mom and Dad, Jigger, Mark, Scott and the rest.

We’ll be along soon.

AndyBeer

 

Comments
  1. Kimberly Celli says:

    Hi, my name is Kimberly-Andy always called me Carla and I called him Norm. What you have written here is absolutely beautiful. He was, and still is, a one of a kind person. I am putting together a collage poster for the benefit at the Green Diamond this weekend and with your permission, I would like to put your words of love into it. May I have your permission? Thank you in advance.

Gimme a holler.

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