Thursday, January 05, 2006

Andrea Arends - Rest In Peace...

Last week I attended the wake and funeral service for Andi Arends – a dear friend for many, many years, and yet another victim of Cancer. She was initially diagnosed with Colon cancer, cancer which then spread to her liver. She underwent surgery to remove a portion of her colon and also had chemotherapy treatments. After months of treatment, she was pronounced “cancer-free”, but the Liver cancer soon returned. This time, the chemotherapy was ineffective, and she passed away just after Christmas.

I used to work with both Andi and her husband, Bob, and was an Usher at their wedding. I’ve known both of them for over 30 years and spent many happy hours with them and their family.

One of my favorite moments with them was a beer-tasting competition held at their house. There were five of us competing; Bob, his brother, Rick, B.D., and myself. Andi was the beer-server and M.C. There were eight beers to be determined; Augsberger, Budweiser, Grolsch, Jewel Generic, Old Style, Stevens Point, Strohs, and a “mystery beer.” You need to remember that this was sometime in the late 1970’s – and there was such a thing as ‘Jewel Generic” beer. It sounds pretty funny now…

We five contestants sat at their dining room table while Andi brought out eight trays of beer, one after another. Please note that this was a classy contest, sparing no expense (remember, one of the beers was Jewel Generic), and the beer was served in plastic cups. After each tray of beer was brought out, the five of us would each sample our servings and, after much banter and deliberation, would secretly mark which beer we thought it was on our scoresheet (see below). At the end of the contest, Andi told us which beer was which and we were able to determine the winner. Modesty prevents me from crowing too much about my victory – obviously the fruits of a misspent youth. It was just a fun time, a time when I was young and the death of anyone was not something I thought about at all. With the three funeral services I’ve attended in 2005, along with my own diagnosis of Prostate Cancer, it’s something I think about all too much now.

Andi was one of the most cheerful and positive people I’ve every known. With some people, you can use the term “Sunshine” as an insult. When used to describe Andi, however, it was always used as a complement – she truly brightened up the lives of those who knew her. I will miss her dearly – she was a wonderful person.

A couple of days ago, my son received word that his best friend’s father had died of Stomach cancer. His friend now has to move to Arizona to live with his older sister - his going-away party was this evening. And yesterday, my youngest daughter received word that one of her teachers had passed away (cause yet unknown to me).

Too many funerals…

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