Memorial Speech

A speech made by Andy's mother at the April 27th Plaque Ceremony.

Andy's Memorial Service
University of Ottawa
April 27, l999

A lot of you only knew Andy for a short time but for those of us who knew him longer, we all know how special he was. There will never be closure to his death because we will be asking for the rest of our lives why this act of violence had to happen. Why does a good person lose his life before his time?

When Andy was born we were all so excited. Roddy wanted a little brother. Roddy carried around a Raggedy Andy Doll with him all the time. It was like a security blanket. He wanted to call his new brother Andy, so we did. He didn't understand why his baby brother didn't come home from the hospital when I did. We were told he was going to die and nothing could be done for him. He had a congenital heart defect. Whether it was a miracle or mistake, we didn't have to tell Roddy the terrible news. Everything turned out all right. We were given a second chance and we thanked God for it.

Andy dressed up on a summer evening
Andy dressed up on a summer evening

Roddy was very protective of his little brother. He was always afraid someone would take him. They grew up side by side. Same clothes, same toys and same interests. Every picture we have Roddy has his arms around Andy or Andy has his around Roddy. They had a special bond which lasted until the night Andy was MURDERED.

Life was good to all of us. Andy was always so content. He was our easy-go-lucky one. He was always keeping the peace in our family. He was everybody's friend. He never found fault with anyone. Everybody liked him.

I received a phone call last month from one of Andy's best friends who had lived in Barrhaven when we did. He had moved to the east coast and just heard the news about Andy. He said Andy didn't deserve to die this way. A knife to his heart... He said Andy was always trying to keep the peace among their friends. He always wanted everyone to get along.

Andy and Mike driving a golf cart
Andy and Mike driving a golf cart

Andy always wanted to be a big brother. His wish came true when he was 11 years old. My husband and I made an agreement. Because of the big age difference, this baby was our responsibility and in no way were we going to burden the boys. Andy didn't see it this way, his wish had come true. He was there for Michael right from the start and always told him he would be here for him the rest of his life.

Andy went straight to the nursery to get his little brother. The special bonding had already started. Every time I turned around Michael was cradled in his arms.

Over time Andy was spending more and more time with Michael. Roddy was 16 years old and looking for his independence. He was busy with school, his friends and working part-time in a grocery store. He even joined the reserves which took him away on week-ends.

Andy was busy with school, his friends, baseball in the summer and swimming lessons. He was three levels ahead of everyone for his age. Hockey soon became his favourite sport. He loved it. It was wonderful watching him. He was like Wayne Gretzky. He wouldn't push or shove. He was out to play hockey and have fun. He was made Team Captain one year. For Andy's 13th birthday his party was celebrated with his hockey team. The slab cake was the design of a hockey rink. It was the best birthday.

It was Andy who convinced us to let Michael play hockey. We thought he was too small and would get hurt. Andy said playing hockey was the best years of his life and Michael should have a chance at it.

Over the years the bonding between Andy and Michael just got stronger. Michael looked to Andy for all his guidance. He would do anything for him. Michael felt so secure with Andy. There was always laughter and joking going on.

Andy (left) and Rod Jr. cautiously approaching an elk while on vacation in B.C. (1978)
Andy (left) and Rod Jr. cautiously approaching an elk while on vacation in B.C. (1978)

When Andy went off to Ottawa University Michael had difficulty accepting the separation from Andy. Even Michael's teacher was concerned. She had noticed how close both boys were. Andy would even pick Michael up at noon hour and have lunch with him. Most boys Andy's age were at the mall for lunch but Andy chose to come home with his little brother. Michael would talk about Andy all day long at school. Andy was Michael's mentor.

Over time Michael realized he would always be part of Andy's life but in a different way. Andy promised Michael when it was time for him to go to university he could live with him. I use to tell Andy not to make promises like that. He had his life and we would take care of Michael. Andy would just smile and say he meant every word.

While attending Ottawa U. Andy re-kindled his love for his older brother Roddy. They started spending more and more time together. They both shared the same interests. Roddy graduated from Ottawa University with honors. He started a full time job as an engineer at Nortel in Kanata. Soon Andy started working there as a co-op student. They had good times working side by side. Andy was so impressed and couldn't wait for the day he would join his brother full time.

(young) Andy with (baby) Mike
(young) Andy with (baby) Mike

We were so happy to see Roddy and Andy getting closer. They both had wonderful lives and were very happy. They were young men and entering a new phase of their lives. What more could we ask for - we had the BEST.

Andy was always looking out for Michael. It was Andy who talked us into getting a puppy for Michael. He thought he wouldn't be as lonesome when he left. Andy was right again. Michael called his dog Buddy. When he was little he called Andy his Buddy. The dog and Michael are best friends. They are always together. Buddy isn't the same now. He senses the sadness in our home. He knows someone is missing.

Two years ago Andy suffered two heart attacks. We found ourselves praying all over again. Andy couldn't die. He had too much living to do. We were spared again. He had contracted a virus which attacked the muscle of the heart and in time and with lots of rest he would be fine.

We were at the Heart Institute just last week. We wanted to see if Andy qualified to have his name inscribed on the Tree of Life which is in the main lobby. He did. This would be another lasting tribute. The person we were talking to knew of Andy. She said that had the virus attacked the heart, Andy would have been a prime candidate for a heart transplant. He was very fortunate.

Andy in his Engineering Jacket
Andy in his Engineering Jacket

I know Andy was planning on being around for a long long time. When we first moved to Brockville Andy made friends with a boy named Duncan Ker. They went to his cottage one day. They brought Michael with them. They had a ball. When they returned Andy said he wanted to have a cottage some day. It would be a great gathering place for his children and grand-children.

On that terrible morning of Dec. 23 we didn't know Andy had died until 4 a.m. We didn't have time to pray - we didn't have time to say good-bye. Our Angel will never be coming home. Our hearts are all broken. Andy was everybody's peace keeper. Andy didn't deserve to die this way - at the hands of someone who had no value for someone else's life.

Michael says he knows Andy is in heaven and if he stays good he will be with him some day. He won't cry because he says Andy wants him to be happy. He wraps Andy's quilt tightly around him and says a prayer and a good-night to him every night.

We have to hold on to the wonderful memories of Andy and hopefully one day we will all be together again.

Andy was truly "GOD'S LENT CHILD".

To Andy's friends who where there that terrible night. Thank you, especially Craig Wells. Andy died in your arms. He wasn't alone. Andy lives on in all your hearts. He will be watching over all of you the rest of your lives. He would want all of you to have a great life. He would want you to live every minute to the fullest.

Andy, Mike and Rod Jr.
Andy, Mike and Rod Jr.

My husband and I want to say a special thank you to our son Roddy for creating the Memorial Web page in memory of Andy. We saw how you were hurting but you still carried on. It's wonderful being able to turn on the computer and see Andy wearing his Ottawa U. leather jacket that you bought for him. He looks so proud. It's as if Andy is still with us when we see him and hear his voice on his web page.

Karen, thank you for being here for Roddy and helping him through this difficult time.

Michael, thank you for being so brave. Andy is your Guardian Angel now. He knows Roddy will be here for you.

You can read more about Andy's Memorial Scholarship Fund.

   Letter to the Media
   Bill C-393
   Our Angel
   Thank You
   Mike's Speech
   Memorial Speech
   Andy's Story
   Our Brother