|Lou Gehrig in his hey-day|
Andy was struck down with ALS-- Amytrophic lateral sclerosis better known as Lou Gehrig disease-- less than a year ago. I only met him this past Christmas at the party at Kip's Castle and he was already wheelchair-bound. He now has a motorized model which he can maneuver with the slightest touch. Andy has since then deteriorated even further. I suppose I should say his body has deteriorated. His humor, wit and brain power are still sharp as a tack.
Tom and I met him again at the graduation party of the daughter of our mutual friends Marc and Careen. Tom had warned me that Andy might be difficult to understand now. His speech was not as good as it had been. Well, I braced myself and Tom and I went to talk to him.
Andy said to Tom, "So, Marc tells me you're in the vacuum industry. That must suck!" We burst out laughing! It only got better from there. "Some leak detector guy you are. I'm taking a leak right now and you don't even know it!" If he had been at a comedy club he would have killed!
Needless to say, his attitude made his present situation that much more admirable. Andy could have been bitter. He could have moaned and groaned and whined about life being so unfair and he would have had a right to. Instead he spoke of all his friends who stuck by him, who helped him out in his most dire moment of need, who built a ramp for his house and were always willing to take the time to visit if only for a few minutes a day, just to keep his spirits up and go to the trouble of including and bringing him to these gatherings, so he could still feel like part of the gang. He was grateful.
Andy was a joy to speak with that day and Tom and I would have liked to have known him before this horror of a disease hit him, but we were glad to get to know him a little now. When you can get people to want to know you at your very worst...well, then you must be something special indeed. Andy is one such person, one of those rare people who can show you how to laugh through the pain. We should all learn that.
There but for the grace of God....