Saturday, May 23, 2015
What we did for love
I knew the most magical man and his name was Andy Jones. We lost him yesterday, suddenly, of a heart attack. Andy was 88 and we thought he would go on forever. Up above is a video our friend George Thomas Apfel made of Andy, made from just a few of the occasions we were lucky enough to share with him.
That is me with my wine glass, leading the chorus of "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow." That is me at the end, too. This is a terrible loss for us. I was confessing to a good friend today, I have been grieving like a Victorian. I actually took to my bed.
This is a funny thing, I find Andy mentioned, in passing, only once on this Web log. Even though I normally saw him at least twice a week. Look at me, writing "normally." As if anything is normal in my life. I did write about our adventures in The Buffalo News' Buzz column. We had a lot of adventures.
Andy Jones is the father of the superhuman jazz pianist Mike Jones who plays with the Penn and Teller show. I used to see him through the years when I went to Mike's shows here in Buffalo. Sometimes I had the honor of introducing Mike from the stage. And I interviewed Mike a few times.
And Mike's parents would be there and I would say hi to them. I did not know Andy well back then but he always had this kind of spark. My friend Diane used to nudge me and point to him. "Andy Jones. Handsome!" she would whisper. "Handsome!" she would repeat. And we would both kind of giggle. I told Andy that story a number of times by the way. Do not worry that I did not!
Anyway, cut to two years ago or something like that. I was at my desk at The Buffalo News and my phone rang. It was Nick, the security guard, telling me that an Andy Jones was here asking for me. I said, "Oh, I'll be right down."
Andy was there, white haired, still handsome. He had these delicate beautiful looks like an 18th century figurine. He was so cool. He was widowed by this time. That was very sad because his wife was the love of his life. He had buried her and also a son he had loved deeply -- but here he was, still smiling. Still handsome. Andy Jones. Handsome!
He had Mike Jones' new CD with him. That was why he was there. He had asked first for his friend Jeff Simon, our recordings editor, but Jeff Simon was not there, and so he had asked for me. We got talking. I had never said much more than hi to him before that day. I wound up inviting him to come by happy hour at the Statler on Fridays to hear Howard play piano.
Which he did. And one thing led to another. And Andy Jones -- handsome! -- became very close friends not only with me but with a whole group of us. And he introduced us to other close friends of his and in turn we all became friends. We all loved Andy deeply and each one of us had his or her own particular personal relationship with him. For instance our friend Ryan, grieving as I am, wrote on Facebook: "Whenever I see a teal '90s Corvette, or buy a jar of Smucker's peanut butter, or cut into a rotisserie chicken from Tops, or listen to the '40s on 4 radio station, I will think of Andy."
Every Friday Andy would sing with Howard at Big Blue. Howard would play the piano and Andy would sing in his beautiful Bing Crosby croon. "Ready, Andy?" Howard would say beginning the night. Andy told me he loved that moment.
Oh, God, there are so many memories and to have him gone boom, just like that, that is tough. I think of a prayer I love, the "Hail, Holy Queen." Hail holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears...
This is a valley of tears, you know?
Something like this happens and you go, "Crap!!"
But still, about Andy, all of us, the walking wounded here in Buffalo, are thinking, what a gift, to have known him. I have been thinking: What if I had not been at my desk that day, that moment? What if I had missed Andy Jones? Thank God things worked out the way they did. I don't care if I cry for a year, I am darned glad that happened.
It is like "What I Did For Love," in "A Chorus Line." The gift was ours to borrow.
And as more than one friend has stated, we will see him again one day. We will. And because Christ has reassured us that we will be resurrected body and soul, that means that the angels will be nudging each other and giggling.
Andy Jones, they will whisper.