Imagine one of your life-long close friends is on the other end of the phone telling you his wife didn’t wake up.
I’ve been trying to make sense of the events this past week. No, not the Diamondbacks’ slow start (I’m being kind) or Jordan Spieth’s gigantic tumble (kinder) at Augusta. Instead, I’ve been processing one of my closest friends kick-to-the-gut tragedy.
My wife and I traveled to the unincorporated community of Martin’s Mill, Texas to be with Andy and the three kids. Martin’s Mill is about an hour and a half drive east of Dallas on I-20. The community derived its name from a man who built a gristmill (grain grinder) right before the Civil War. He was a very generous man, so the people named the city after him. The generosity I heard and saw from the community over the last week was incredible. Meals were set up for Andy and his family for the next three months. Rides were arranged for the daughter who’s going to be on the high school cheer team. Mothers of families were staking claim to be the ones who would take her shopping or to school events. Andy’s two boys are terrific young men. The sting of losing their mom was evident, but so was their resolve. The oldest boy, Wyatt, led off the speakers at the memorial service in the families back yard on Saturday afternoon. Morgan, the middle child, spoke towards the end of the service. I watched their dad dab his eyes while they spoke, he couldn’t have been more proud.
“I’ve got ten wives this week,” Andy joked as we drove together on Friday morning. It may sound harsh, but you have to know the humor of Andy to understand that he was right. Women were all over the house the three days that we were there, making sure that everything was tidied up and that the household continued to run. His wife, Rachel, had touched many, many people in ways that will last for years to come. She paid it forward. At one time she ran a restaurant and more recently had started developing a line of soaps that she was going to sell in the community and at craft shows. She was in her early 40’s.
Men showed up to grade Andy’s driveway or do other things around their country property. This isn’t a community where you close the garage door at 5pm and not know your neighbor. One lady told me that Rachel would send out a group text on Wednesday nights to plan the neighbor weekend dining plans. They would all eat together on Saturday nights and sometimes have the leftovers together on Sundays. To use the term “close-knit” doesn’t seem to do them justice.
I had a couple of long talks with Andy after his initial phone call. Talks that I couldn’t imagine having with him when we were growing up in North San Diego County. Bob and Rick (two lifelong friends) and Chris, Peggy, and Stef were by his side, too. Sports is not who I am, it’s something I do. Andy is on the front of my mind right now, not the world of fun and games that we call sports…