In Memory of Andy

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DJ / 8 Years Ago

One of the best friends I have ever had, Andy Swan, died yesterday afternoon when his kidneys finally failed him. He had been plagued with medical problems for almost as long as I had known him, but somehow he always managed to stay positive and upbeat. So much so that I doubt many people he came across had any idea that anything was wrong with him. I wanted to take some time here and tell some stories about Andy. If you knew Andy, I am sure many of these memories will make you smile and picture them in your mind. If you didn't, perhaps you will get a small picture of just how unique and special this man was, why he was so well liked and loved, and will be missed so very much.

I honestly cannot remember exactly how I came to know Andy, or even when we first met - it was simply too long ago. Andy lived across the street from Ryan's dad, and Ryan's mom and my mom were good friends at that time, so Ryan and I were good friends, so I think it was inevitable that Andy and I would meet and become friends.

We went to the same grade school, and although he was one grade ahead of me, my school combined grades 1&2, 3&4, and 5&6 so I was able to be the same class as him several times. He was always the joker, always funny, always having fun, but yet rarely got in trouble. I think that was due to the fact that he had no malice in it, he was just full of funny and it had to get out.

I guess I was a bad influence of him in grade school. I could go over to his house (about 2/3 a mile away) without asking permission or getting in trouble, and I could go even further, to the Civic Center, if I wanted to. At that same time, he had to ask to cross the street! So what did he do? Well, he went to the Civic Center with me (much farther than across the street) without asking, and of course he would get grounded.

I remember playing full contact basketball in his yard with his brothers. Think basketball combined with the checking of hockey and optional dribbling and you have an idea. I was the smallest, and Andy was the slightest of the group, but we still tried to give the beatings as good as we got.

I remember spending the night at his house, but staying in the giant RV his family had in the yard and playing boards games and cards into the wee hours of the night.

I remember taking him camping with my family in Old Mission during several summers. He earned the love of not just my family, but many of the people at the campground with his wacky sense of humor and outrageous antics. A large group of many families would gather at the campsite of my Aunt and Uncle, who would camp there all summer. One time, Andy, Joel, and I went out on the beach, got under a blanket, and started creeping towards the campfire while making the most disgusting blob/slime noises that we could. We had the whole group of them hooting with laughter. I don't know for sure, but I bet that was Andy's idea.

I remember Andy helping me sell pop at the Cherry Festival at least one year. He worked hard and did not complain, but he did help entertain, and he had no qualms with shouting "Ice cold pop!" as loud as he could and cracking jokes with customers. He did, however, wear the most ridiculous sunglasses I had ever seen.

I remember Andy's first serious crush and first girlfriend (Kallie I think her name was?), partially because the timing completely coincided with my first serious crush and first girlfriend when I was in 5th grade and he was in 6th, near the end of the year. I even remember those two girls getting together and talking about us. Probably talking about how boys were weird.

I remember Andy making some of the strangest pizzas at my house. I love pizza, and thus had stuff to make homemade pizza at home often. When Andy was involved, his pizza would end up with all sorts of stuff from the fridge and cabinets on it. The one time I remember in particular was when he put chocolate syrup on a pizza that was not remotely a dessert pizza. He thought it was awful and then ate it anyway (probably because I warned him before he put the chocolate syrup on it that he better eat it and not waste it, but he went ahead anyway).

I remember hanging out with Andy, ordering some pizza and watching TV. We got two pizzas and an order of bread sticks. I ate all but 2 slices of my pizza, and I left some of my crusts. I had a few bread sticks as well. Andy ate every crumb of his pizza, the rest of the bread sticks, my remaining two slices, and my leftover crusts! Unfortunately, shortly afterward he started not feeling well and had to call for his mom to come pick him up. If I remember correctly, that night he had to go to the hospital because his lung collapsed. He recovered and I was able to teases him that his lung collapsed due the pressure put on it from his massively bloated stomach! For being so skinny, that dude could eat!

I remember cramming Andy and 5 of my other friends all together in my Honda CRX (no real back seat!) to go to a TC Trojans HS Football game.

When I got dumped by my longtime girlfriend on my 18th birthday, he was right there to commiserate with me and help cheer me up. When she would not talk to me to explain why, Andy and some of my other friends went with me to her house. Andy led my crew in running interference, keeping her friends and new boyfriend (that was fast, huh?) occupied while I tried to pry some answers out of my ex.

I remember working with Andy at the State Theater in downtown TC. He probably got me the job since he worked there first. Joel started working there, too, and many shifts it was the manager and the three of us.

My first marriage was a disaster, so I don't like to think much about it, but one thing concerning that wedding and Andy stands out. First, I regret not having Andy in the wedding party. We only had two people each, so I chose my Cousin John, and Ryan. No disrespect to my cousin, but Andy should have been in that slot. Maybe it was providence, however, because Andy was everywhere on that day. I never remember asking him to do anything, but he was one of the first people at the site, helped get everything ready, make everything as perfect as could be, and was one of the last people to leave the reception. He did so much to help that he would not have been able to do if was in the wedding. Too bad he did not have his band back then, he could have played the reception as well!

As kids Andy and I would go swimming in the bay all the time, sometimes every single day for weeks at a time during the summer. The water could be freezing and we would not care. Funny, considering the last time I saw Andy during my visit to TC during the summer of 2007 we went to the bay to go swimming. The water was cold, so we dove in, ran right back out, dried off and left. We became wusses in our old age!

During that trip to TC in 2007, Andy and Ryan generously allowed me to crash on their couch for the week. I brought my Wii and a couple nights during that week we were up late having a hoot playing those games.

It is amazing as I sit here and think of memories and stories to tell just how many there are. I guess that makes sense when you consider we were close friends for around 16 years. Once I went into the military I moved away from Traverse City and had much less opportunity to hang out with him, but every time I came back to TC I always tried to see him and hang out with him. When I brought Kelley to TC with me, the one person I had to make sure she met was Andy.

I wish I would have had more opportunities to go back and hang out with Andy since I left to join the Air Force. Of course, at times like this we often have regrets. But, I know Andy lives on in my heart and in my memories of him. I hope my sharing of these memories has made you smile and gave you a little more of Andy to keep alive in your heart and mind. I trust that he now has a much better seat to watch a much bigger show. Rock on, Andy, rock on!

See pictures of Andy

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