The Last Decisions

They said to send over a suit and shoes to dress Andrew for the final time. We pulled them out and laid them on his bed and just looked at it. He had a brand new suit we just bought, only a few months old. We looked at the suit a good long time. That was not Andrew, that was not the person we raised for twenty-one years. That is not what he was comfortable in. We decided there would be no suit.

IFHockey was what Andrew loved. It did not define him, but it was his passion. He felt free when he had his jersey on and played on the cold ice. He had no worries, no fears, and felt so great to be part of a team. So why would we put him in a suit? Nicole came upstairs with Andrew’s Mariners jersey, number 17, and that was it. He would wear his hockey jersey one last time, forever. He would be more comfortable and free in that than anything else.

And shoes? Andrew rarely wore shoes. He hated them. So why put them on him now. He and Wally would spend days without shoes, probably the whole summer if we let him. They went to get pizza one day and they were told that they needed shoes, but since they did not have them the owner of the shop gave them four small pizza boxes to tape to their feet so they would not be barefoot. And they had their pizza and were happy. Unfortunately no one took a picture of that – I would have loved to see that. So how could we put him in shoes now, or even socks.

So Andrew is dressed in his Mariners jersey and a pair of Khaki pants. No suit, no shoes. That is the way he would like to be.

Andrew also wore a ring. He wore it like a wedding band on his right ring finger. As far as Andrew and Jovi were concerned, they were, for lack of a better word, married. They were deeply and passionately in love. They lived together for a long time, sharing a small single bed. They had a child together, they ate most of their meals together, and bought each other these cute little token gifts. They were so much in love. The ring came home to us in a small bag along with Andrew’s other belongings. How could we leave it in the bag, or in the house? How could we not put it back on his finger for him to wear forever, as I am sure his love for Jovi, and their child, will last for eternity.

We also needed a talis for him to wear. The plan was for me to be buried in my Bar Mitzvah talis, and Andrew to keep his. My father’s talis from Israel, which is the one I wear to temple since my father passed, would stay in the family and be passed down. But that has changed now. I wanted to keep my son’s talis. I did not want to part with it. I want someone else to wear it one day. I did not want it gone for good. So Andrew now wears the talis I was Bar Mitzvahed in.  And his talis sits in the draw in my bedroom, still in the talis bag that he designed and I made, and will one day be given to someone to wear at their bar mitvah.

But what else? What else is there we could do?

PG3_2063This past spring I bought a small Corgi replica car of Andrew’s car – a Mazda RX8, black all around. I purchased it so that he could take it back to school and look at it once in a while. My wish was that he would look at it and remember the feeling of freedom, the sense of pride, the feeling of the wind in his air when he drove the car. I wanted him to remember this and maybe it would take a little stress out of his day and bring him some pleasure and relaxation to remember this feeling. He was so happy to have that little toy model, even here in NY. he left it on his night table and was so happy when he looked at it. So that little toy, that little black model, that brought relaxing memories and brought the memory of peaceful driving was there resting next to him forever.

And there was one more thing. Andrew’s beloved Daisy.

PAG_0175Daisy was with us for almost fourteen years. She traveled with us, loved us, and we loved her back. Each and every morning when he was home, Andrew would lay down and hug Daisy and kiss her and talk to her. It was their special time every day. The same was true when he came home from college – he had to spend time with her right away, hugging her, laughing with her, and she would lick his face until he could not take it any longer. Daisy passed away, very quietly and peacefully, a few months before Andrew left us. We had her body cremated and the ashes put in a beautiful flower tin. Over the summer we talked about what to do with her ashes. Should we sprinkle them in the lake that she loved to swim in so much? Should we release them into the air from the car that she loved to drive in? We spent weeks over the summer, but we never settled on what to do with her.

A day or so after Andrew passed i was in my office and i saw the tin can with what remained of our beloved Daisy. How could I leave her on the shelf in my office, alone. How could I let my Andrew be alone forever. So the last thing I did was to place the Daisy in Andrew’s arms. They would be together forever. Daisy would be right there with Andrew forever. Along side him when they entered their eternal peace. I am sure they are together today, and will be forever, bringing a smile to Andrew’s face, and a wag to Daisy’s tail.

There we stood, looking at our son for the very last time. We would never see his beautiful, smiling face again. This was it. But in that moment when we looked at him, he was in peace. There was no stress or anxiety in his face. There was nothing hurting him or bothering him, there was no pain. And we said that to each other. We found some peace in that, Andrew was at peace.

There he was in his Mariners jersey, with Daisy in his arms, his car neatly parked next to him, wearing the ring that tied him to the woman and child he loved so much, wearing my Bar Mitzah tallis – and he was in peace.

Then I had to do the hardest thing I will ever have to do. We motioned for the director to close his eternal resting place. And I watched as I gazed upon my son’s beautiful face for the last time. We never turned away, we just backed up and sat there in the first row as people came to greet us and pay their respects. And we were numb.



14 thoughts on “The Last Decisions

  1. Ashley

    Your writing is beautiful and brings tears to my eyes. I have always said that the love you have for your children is beyond words, I could tell from just the way you looked at them. your writing makes me not take anything for granted and appreciate all of the little things in life and moments. The memories you shared with Andrew are wonderful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Joanne Frizalolne

    Each time you write, I see a layer and tben yet another deeper layer revealed. And each time I see you have posted on “Never Forget Andrew”, it is met witb mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m so grateful that you share so much; on the other hand, I can almost feel your pain and I weep…So many lost dreams. I’m sure I speak for many when I say I’m so sorry for all you have endured.

  3. Susan Wallace

    Good Sunday Morning Perry…

    This post was especially difficult to read, when I saw that it was entitled “Last Decision”… Every decision we make involving our children can be difficult, but this one especially, because Andrew couldn’t give his opinion, or talk it through with you. To me, you, Nicole and Dorothy did make the correct decision. Andrew needed to leave this world as he was known to everyone. There is no right or wrong here, it’s what is in your heart. We buried my mom in her favorite sleeveless shirt, jeans and sneakers because that’s who she was. Since we are Catholic, and the casket was open during the wake, countless people told my bothers and me that they were happy to see my mom like that- it “looked like her”… I’m happy Andrew looked like himself when he left you. That decision most likely made him think, “yes! That’s what I would wear!” No shoes was definitely a thing with Nick/Wally… I remember telling Nick to ask your permission for him to go barefoot during the services. It was done in tribute to their friendship. So, in allowing Andrew to go shoeless, you let him take a special part of their friendship with him as well. Thank you for that. Without this post, I wouldn’t have known you did that… I didn’t know about the pizza boxes, LOL!, but it’s not surprising! Those two… Perry, thank you for this post. You did such a good thing in allowing Andrew to be himself both here and in heaven. You’re a wonderful father ~Susan

  4. Ned

    Perry, that is such a beautiful remembrance – the concrete things of Andrew’s and your life which you mention have such a way of holding memories and keeping them alive – and now they accompany Andrew forever….and you have shared their beautiful meaning with me and with everyone who reads this. Thank you.

  5. George

    Perry, Just want to say thank you. As I read the story and what you guys were going through, I can’t imagine having to do that myself. But through sadness, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of happiness. We know each other through hockey, namely the Mariners, and we both volunteered our time (you as a coach and me as a board member) to help and have an impact on not only our own children but also other kids. There were times when it wasn’t always the most enjoyable thing to be doing. Difference of opinions, bad decisions, etc., etc. sometime makes a person wonder if it was all worth it. Even in such a somber story as this, the fact that hockey and the Mariners were such a part of Andrew’s life helps make me feel happier about those times.

  6. Sally

    You chose just the right items to keep close to Andrew for eternity, Perry! Be at peace and know he is still all around you in his own way.

  7. Patrick

    Perry every time I read one of your posts my first thoughts are I’m so happy my boys are all with me. Second, I go to all the great times Garrett and Andrew had with the Mariners and the fun you and I had playing coaches to them. No one handled the forwards or defense doors better than you.

    I find myself moved and holding back tears every time I read your posts. Please stop that 😉 You have me thinking very deeply about life and what’s important.

    Please accept and pass along my thoughts and prayers to your wife and daughter


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