Farewell my dear friend

It is his laughter I shall always remember.

It rolled up out of his belly frothing with mirth too big for one body to contain. It spilled out like waves crashing against a rocky shoreline, splashing everyone in close proximity with its insistence we give up all resistance and join in the frivolity at hand.

It is his laughter I shall always remember and his loving friendship I shall carry with me forever.

My friend Andrew Z took his last breath on Friday evening. And, just as he did in life, he surprised us with how he did it.

Andrew was not a quiet man. A larger-than-life character, in business he was a tough negotiator, a fair boss, a brilliant strategist and visionary. Revered by many he lead, he commanded his domain with deft hands and an uncompromising demand for excellence from everyone who sat around him at the board room table. He knew what he wanted and went after making it happen, with gusto. He loved the chase he once told me and dreamt of building a billion-dollar company before he retired.

When he’d succeeded (which he always did) and the time came to let go, he did not go into retirement easily. He sat on many boards, sharing his knowledge and wisdom freely.

We often talked about how challenging he found retirement. And, while he admired me for my work and volunteerism, he knew himself well enough to know not-for-profit boards and volunteering were not for him. Though, when Christmas dinners came around and I insisted our guests first go serve dinner at a homeless shelter, he did not balk. And, when I organized Thanksgiving dinners at a building that housed formerly homeless veterans, he and his beautiful wife, Ula, were the first to join me in making it happen.

Along with his laughter and unwavering friendship, I shall miss sitting around the dinner table diving into conversations about everything from China to the MIddle East, Canadian politics and Indigenous issues and what he considered the ineptness of certain governments to take care of business first.

Andrew read voraciously. He consumed news like a fire consuming oxygen and had a discriminating mind that could drill down into salient facts revealing perspectives I would never have seen without his insight. And, though throughout our over 40 years of friendship I failed to convince him to use “Indigenous Peoples’ and not ‘Indians’, as Andrew read more about Indigenous history and colonialism in Canada, he shifted from asserting ‘it’s a business problem that could be fixed with good management’ to acknowledging that as we ‘the white man’ were the architects of the intergenerational trauma and poverty, racism and discrimination that has destroyed Indigenous culture, lives and well-being, we did not have the answers, nor the right, to dictate the future of Indigenous peoples.

Andrew was my friend. Warm-hearted, generous, loving. I always knew I could lean on him, call on him when times were tough and count on him when times called for a celebration.

Once, when I had ended a relationship I knew needed ending but felt the pain of loss deeply, he called to invite me for dinner. When I walked into their home, Andrew wrapped his arms around me and said, “You can always come here Louise where you know you are loved.”

And, after five years of an abusive relationship, Andrew and Ula stood by my side, helping me stand up again, always supporting me and surrounding me, and my daughters, with their love.

My dear friend Andrew took his last breath on Friday evening. I had spent the day supporting their friend Mark in organizing around-the-clock nursing and palliative care and a hospital bed and all the things that needed to happen for Andrew to have his wish after Covid pneumonia had taken its toll – to die at home.

Mark had promised he would not let him be taken back to hospital and worked feverishly to ensure it didn’t happen.

And then, when the arrangements were all in place and the first nurse due to arrive for the overnight shift, Andrew surprised us all by slipping quietly away while Ula and their son sat in the kitchen quietly chatting and he lay in the living room on his own.

And while I so wish I could have been there to hold his hand as he slipped over, I know this is exactly how Andrew would have wanted it.

No lingering death. No waiting. No tears. No fussing over him.

In an article on death and dying I read on my flight back from Vancouver on Wednesday night, the author suggested something we should all consider, “What will the world look like without me in it?” Imagine it and find peace with your imaginings.

Andrew, my world without you in it has a big hole. To find peace within that void I imagine only Love filling the space you left behind because Love is all there is left to hold onto in your passing.

Thank you my friend for your constant love and care. Thank you for the laughter, the joy, the meals, the times we shared in Barbados and Mexico and the times spent at your beautiful home here and on Barry’s Bay.

Thank you for always being there for me and my daughters. Thank you for loving us all so fiercely and for always letting us know how much you cared.

Thank you for being you. You taught me how to be myself no matter what. And no matter what, I shall always love you.

Namaste

40 thoughts on “Farewell my dear friend

  1. I am sorry for your loss Louise – he sounds like a very wonderful human being who was there for you in your time of need. Treasure those special times and memories made together.🙏🏼❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just decided to only read ONE blog post out of all the friends I am following and yours was the last, newest one, so!!!!
    What a heart-warming, wonderful testimonial to a great friend this is ❤
    What an outstanding, bigger than life person he was. And when such a giant personality just quietly slips away, I’m frankly awestruck. You wd expect a parting with a full brass orchestre and then, not even a whining fiddle…. that’s great!
    That’s how my mum died 2 month ago on Feb 3…. she spoke with all of us on the phone, when I called her, like I did every day, we joked about little things…. the next morning at 7 the doctor went to see her-and she was in her bed, peaceful, still warm, ‘just gone’… could anyone wish for a more perfect parting? Yr friend chose the same way for stepping away… how wonderful and, eventually, peaceful. May his wife, family and all his friends find rich comfort and think of him with a thankful smile in their 💔. Much strength to all. Kiki

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for so eloquently and beautifully putting my feelings into words. He is all you said and more. I can’t believe he is gone. And I will hold every memory I had with him very close. I’m glad we got to come see him on Friday and I’m so glad you were there too. Lots of love,

    Maya Xoxox

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Louise! What a beautiful description of that wonderful Man! He leaves a big void and we shall keep filling it with more amazing stories and memories like yours. 💔

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Louise ,Totalmente como lo describiste ‼️‼️‼️Asi Fue Nuestro Querido Amigo ,Inolvidables Los Maravillosos Momentos Compartidos .Un Ser Muy Especial, Exitoso ,Inteligente,Muy Trabajador. Un Amigo con el que Siempre Conté..” Andresito ” Men in Black .Así le decía Guillermo. Te Quiero Andresito .Aún No Puedo Creerlo .❤❤❤❤❤❤

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  6. Ma cherie!
    Through tears I read, and re-read your tribute to Andrew Z. For your readers, Andrew was my cousin, my “brother”. The loss has not yet penetrated into my being. However, after I concentrated on your words I realized that we have not lost Andrew, that he will always be with us. He was one of those individuals who loved life, worked hard, debated hard, called a spade a spade, and still respected you when all was said that needed to be said. In his own way he was a deeply caring human being.
    Thank you for your kind, caring words. My tears of sorrow were really tears of joy.
    Namaste!

    Liked by 1 person

    • For the past few days, walking with Beaumont at the park, along the river, I keep finding heart rocks. Andrew to me personifies the story I once wrote about heart rocks for my daughters. In the end, the King learns that ‘even a heart of stone can be warmed in loving hands’. You warm so many hearts Iwona. Thank you my dear friend. ❤

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  7. Dammit Louise … you made me cry (again). Andrew through his life inspired in me confidence in myself and a fierce loyalty —- a loyalty our little circle friends, in what we believe, and to support each other no matter what with Andrew and Ursula in the middle —- and that’s a wonderful gift, a legacy that lives on. Thank you Andrew.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is exactly what he did Mark — inspire self-confidence and fierce loyalty. He used to take my daughters to lunch and talk to them about their futures — and that is exactly what he did. And yes, it is a wonderful gift he has given us. Much love and gratitude for you my friend.

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