Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Friend & Skate Hero Andy Kessler Dead @ 48

(Andy w/Tony Alva)

(Andy christening his design at Owl Head skate park)

I received the sad news on Tuesday from a mutual friend that my dear old friend, Andy Kessler, had passed on. My immediate reaction on the phone was: "GTF outta here... & don't kid like that!" After a long pause that was followed by a deep quivering sigh, I said: "Stop it right now! IT"S NOT FUNNY!" You see, Andy and his friends were notorious kidders and jokers. He always had me smiling and laughing.

But the silence was too heavy to ignore. I said nothing hoping it was all a big mistake. After clearing the lump in his throat several times he was finally able to tell me about Andy's last day as told to him from another friend. Details are unimportant, the facts are that after a day of glorious surfing with friends, he got stung by a wasp which caused a severe allergic reaction and ultimately a cardiac arrest.

I was stunned and in disbelief. It was my son's birthday and Andy, who had successfully convinced me that 10 was the perfect age to start skateboarding, was supposed to go and help my son pick out a skate board. He was to begin teaching him how to skateboard later that week. I couldn't wrap my head around it. "But, he was supposed to be here for my son's birthday party?" I said stupidly. Andy was nothing but very reliable and loyal. When he said he was going to be somewhere he was, come what may. My thoughts then shifted to my young son. He idolized Andy and was so looking forward to learning how to skate from one of the greatest and nicest legends on the East Coast. I chose for Andy to teach him because my knees are shot from decades of crashes and accidents from skating conditions that were crude and primitive. Being the bolder of the 2, whenever Andy didn't want to skate something I went ahead and tried it sometimes with disastrous results.

After barely saying good bye I hung up the phone still in a state of shock. "Andy... gone?" I then became angry over the time I wasted in the last 8 months healing from my last injury instead of hanging with him. I then thought far back to the start of our long friendship as teenagers skating the lower east side.

Our friendship was forged on our love of skating, music, movies & mtgs. Our birthdays were only a few days apart and my most favorite memory was our joint celebration of our 25th birthday - we're both geminis. It the main reason we got along so well. We understood each other at the soul level. I have many pictures of us together, but the pictures of the 24hr celebration of our 25th birthday are what comes to mind immediately when I think of Andy and our past together.

He was the kind of person that when he smiled it was from his heart. His smile and sense of humor were so electric they would light up a room. And his hugs? I once told him that his hugs where therapeautic and healing. You could feel his appreciation for you when he greeted you, because he filled his embraces with love.

We discovered that we both had the need... "the need for speed!" Only I eventually turned to motorcycles and skiing to satisfy that need (because my body couldn't take any more injuries). He continued with his torrid love affair with skating and moved on to surfing to give his own body a break. Still, he was nothing but loyal and passionate to his main love - skateboarding.

Andy, I cherished you. I will miss your beautiful heartwarming smile, your warm caring spirit and your loving hugs. Thank you for enriching my life and that of so many others. The NY skate scene will never be the same, and neither will Central Park or Riverside.

BTW, God's not sending you back this time because your work here with us is done. So enjoy rippin it in heaven with no worries!

1 comment:

Harvey said...