Give my head peace

Andy aboard the 'Meant to Be'

Andy aboard the

The Blarney Crone is in reflective mood, following sad news from Itchy Ankle.

‘Give my head peace’. It’s something harassed Northern Irish mothers say to their kids–or at least they did in the 1960s–when the kids are whining and whingeing and hanging on your hem and generally driving you crazy. It means, go away and leave me alone. Itchy Ankle Andy wanted anything other than to be left alone, and his head had no peace. As a little boy, robbed of his father in a plane crash, he raced like a terror around the house and ran and couldn’t be stopped in the corridors at school.  By his teenage years, his mother spirited away by a new husband and the pills that would eventually cost her her own life , Andy was running toward any pair of open arms–and any open bottle. He craved love, constant company, something to do, something else to do, a drink and then another drink. Three weeks ago, he ran himself into real trouble. A drinking binge. An attack of pancreatitis. A seizure in the hospital. Rescusitation. Brain anoxia–a lack of oxygen supply–leading to coma. For a couple of weeks, machines and tubes jolted his life along. It wasn’t possible to know where his head was at, but his being was still tortured and restless.  On Thursday, his heartbroken brothers acknowledged that the hospital apparatus had no more power than people who love Andy– machine or man, the power is not for them to wield, and, try as they might, it wouldn’t work to try to live Andy’s life for him. It was time for his running to stop. Andy died on Friday night and is mourned to a degree he would like, but probably wouldn’t believe.

The crone has known Andy since she moved to Itchy Ankle. He was as good and bad a man as any other–generous, and self-centered, selfish and kind; energetic and creative, impulsive, unfocused and all over the place. Simultaneously shrewd and immature he was both engaging and madly irritating. Loving and deeply lovable, he never felt well enough loved and was well-wary of love. Blessed with good looks, a good job, great taste, a wonderful home, close family, many friends and no shortage of party spirit, Andy was always at the center of the fun–cook-outs and crab feasts, boat trips and Christmas gift swaps. At Halloween, he raided the women’s underwear aisle at Walmart in search of outsize foundation garments and became a most convincing St Pauli girl, dispensing drinks from the bladders of wine boxes, complete with taps, snugly contained in each of his ample bra cups. Every night at five, he could be seen with Molly, his golden lab and his heart’s delight, at the ballfields, treating her to a run and an hour in his company. The sadness of Andy’s life is that his yearning and craving and fretting for a perfect all embracing love created in his head a constant clamor and in his heart a dull and chronic ache.  Andy died a quiet, pain-free death on Friday. Finally, his uneasy body is at rest and, please God, his head now knows a deep and lasting peace.

About Liz Barron

US Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. Permanent address in Washington DC. Deep roots in Northern Ireland and persistent Belfast accent. Blogger,cook, mother, grandma, Scrabble-player and enthusiastic world traveler.
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3 Responses to Give my head peace

  1. Andy was one of the kindest, most generous, most fun people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

    He welcomed me into his amazing home from the first day I met him. In his case his home was not his castle, his home was open to all. As was his boat and his dock.

    he taught me how to catch crabs, and he and I enjoyed lazy days on the bay that will be forever in my memory.

    the world is a sadder, slightly lonelier place without Andy, but we were all blessed with his presence.

    He was an intensely funny man who tried his hand at anything and everything, sometimes at great speed and without regard for his, or anyone else’s safety. I remember one evening which involved a lot of burning in some type of dustbin, smoking something ( it may have been lobster or fish or something). It all felt slightly dodgy at the time, though it worked.

    and another evening involving a bunch of Mexicans celebrating the fifth of may will go down in the annals, not least because he and I turned up at midnight, when they thought they might go to bed but then had to remain…..

    and long lazy days on the dock.

    I’ll miss you you old daft bugger


  2. Pingback: Blarneycrone’s Weblog

  3. Pingback: In heaven, all the drinks are pink | The Blarney Crone

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