A TRIBUTE TO A FRIEND
In my youth, my best friend, Andy, began to write his autobiography. He was eighteen at the time. He must have known something was amiss. His first sentence was: I was born in a house I helped my father build. I thought that was profound. Weird, paradoxical, impossible and profound. I knew what followed would be humorous and it was. He was a funny guy.
We would go out drinking.We would have heated discussions. He would play the bad guy and I would play the good guy. We would start out discussing a subject and he would always take the unpopular view. He would make outlandish statements like: Adolph Hitler wasn't such a bad guy. We would discuss, harangue, argue with each other, not giving any ground. Finally a little smirk would come on his face. He would be testing your convictions. He would make you think outside the box. He would make sure you knew what you were talking about. He would look for the weakness in your argument.
His whole bad guy bit was just an act.
He occasionally got a little carried away with his act. He would often mention what a wonderful country Germany was. He would refer to it as the "homeland." It was his idea of making himself interesting. The fact is: He was part Swiss and part Norwegian. He had relatives in Switzerland. Everyone knew he was not German. He knew that everyone knew. No matter..he had fun with it.
He always had German Shepard dogs.
They would have German names like Shultz, Max, Gunther, Gretchen. He would take particular delight when a little French Poodle would walk near his dog. " My Shultz could chew your little French poodle to bits". (kinda like the start of WWII.) The fact is: most of his German shepards were really sweeties. Nice dogs.
He only had one that made me nervous. I think he named him Heinz. He would not hurt you as long as you didn't move. If you blinked or breathed he would probably chew your face off. He was sit about two feet from you and stare. A blink would make him show his teeth, a breathe would make him growl. The only movement I probably would not be able to avoid was a bowel movement. This dog scared the shit out of me. Thank God, Heinz was not around for very long.
Andy was a man of the arts. We both were. We were both very pretentious about it.
We both liked Jazz for about a week, I think we liked Art for two weeks, Opera-four hours, Classic Literature was good for about three weeks, Classical music lingered for about three months. We both tried to learn Spanish one summer. (We had flashcards)
We couldn't put a sentence together but we knew words. We were men of the arts
We both liked sports. I actually was the one who played organized sports. He was the intellect. However.....anytime we competed against each other in sports, I found it difficult to beat him. He was very competitive. We liked to make our competitions interesting. We played Croquet. This sounds like a very genteel and refined sport. Wrong!!! We did not have the manicured flat lawn. NO! This was laid out like a par 90 golf course. We had hills, holes, water hazards, deep grass, and building on our course.
If we could have found an alligator, it would have been on the course. There was a lot of good natured cursing, throwing mallets at each other, fist fights all in good fun. Andy's wife usually started the fist fights.....She's feisty.
Any game we would play, we would add our own twist.
He liked to write poetry. One was called "A cat with two tails". It was about a constipated cat. You get the picture. funny!
Andy liked horses. Andy liked beer. Andy actually owned two race horses. They were really hay burners. One was a thoroughbred, one was a trotter. He brought the trotter to the county fair grounds and entered him into a race. He had a friend who was a professional driver. It was not pretty. after the race the driver said, "Run? this horse can't even walk right." The horse became a pet after that.
Andy use to like to go into town and have a beer or two/three/four. He was losing his vision due to diabetes. He couldn't drive any more so he road the horse to town. He would tie the horse to a post outside the bar right next to all the cars. Andy would bring a beer out to his horse if it was a hot day. I guess the horse liked it. It did have grain in it. I guess the horse was either very smart or an alcoholic. One day Andy went to town with the horse. He wanted to push on a little further to the next bar which was about 300 yards down the road. The horse stopped at the first bar and would not go any further. No matter what Andy did the horse would not budge. He stayed at the first bar.
My friend Andy's life was cut short. He loved his beer. This is a bad thing when you have juvenile diabetes. He decided he was going to live life his way. He tried to adjust his beer intake with insulin. It was not a good plan. He once told me he would not live to be forty.
The wheels started to fall off. His vision started to go. His kidneys started to go. After both vision and kidney's were pretty much gone he moved closer to the hospital for dialysis. One day I drove him to the hospital in a blizzard. I was scared, if he could have seen what I was driving in, he would have been scared but he kept boosting my morale and encouraging me. I made it to the hospital then I had to watch his dialysis.
I drove him back home later in the day. whew!!!
Andy finally got a kidney transplant from his brother. He had lost a couple toes, his vision and his kidneys. He never lost his thirst for learning. He learned how to be a ham radio operator. This is mind boggling to me. One of the criteria is that you have to be able to read and transmit morris code. Can you imagine learning dots and dashes and making words out of it while you are blind? Amazing!!!
After a couple of years the transplant rejected. He was waiting for another transplant when he passed away. He was 39 years old.
Something good did come out of this. Andy's wife was his caretaker for many years. She was not a high school graduate. But she went to a vocational nursing school and became a certified nurse. this is good....but not the end of the story. She continued her education. She received her bachelor's degree and her masters degree. she is in charge of the intensive care unit at the hospital where Andy spent many days. she is an amazing lady. Donna.
Andy, You were a great friend. I still think about our fun times. You are missed.
When I meet are common friends(we had many) we always talk about you. We often laugh and sometimes we get a little misty eyed. Didn't we have fun!!!!!