Notes from Jeanne (pt.1)

Before I start, I should introduce myself. I am Andrew’s wife, Jeanne. I have been asked by both Andrew and his brother Bo to write a post for the blog for some time now.

To be honest, this whole experience has become very private and personal for me, for us, and it is hard to think about writing to all of you, most of whom I have never met. I know how much writing meant to Andrew…it was one of his greatest gifts and there are so few who have such a distinctive and honest voice. His writing has always been so easy to read and fall into. I am proud of the fact that there are so many of you who have followed his work for years, far longer than I have known him, and keep coming back to see what he has to say.

So here I am now, opening myself up to communicating with all of you for Andrew. He wants me to do this as he can no longer write. He is leaving us bit by bit, day by day.

You all know him as a writer and businessman. He is my husband and friend. Here are just a few of the things he wanted me to share.

On Monday, 16 February Andrew and I will have known each other seven years. We met at Target in Salem, NH. He always loves to tell people I picked him up on the discount aisle at Target. Actually a mutual friend introduced us purely by accident, and neither one of us were looking for a relationship. I was just four months into the separation from my former husband, and Andrew was in a sad and painful place, having ended an important relationship three days earlier which had defined his life for several years. He had vowed to take space to be alone - what man really does that? - and try to figure out who he was and where he was going.

It was the oddest thing. We met and he began to tell me his life story…something I normally am loathed to hear from someone I just met. It just began to fall out of him…it was bizarre. I remember standing there thinking, who is this guy? Yet, I was drawn to his extreme openness, honesty and his story which was rather fascinating, to say the least…filled with challenges, hard work, disappointment, fear and failure, tremendous success and a lot of pain mixed with a great sense of humor. Then there was that killer smile. Frankly, it blew me away. I have met many charming men before and was married to one of the most charming, therefore I tend to stand off from those who try. I am way too smart for that.

Thing is, he wasn’t even trying to charm me. Standing there in the middle of Target spilling your guts - way TMI - is not how one goes about charming another person. It was as if he could not help himself. His eyes shown so bright and blue; I was just pulled right in. When he got to the part about his pace-maker (which was implanted December 1998), I instinctively reached out to touched his heart…and I can tell you that is so NOT in my character to be that forward after knowing someone for a mere 20 mins. I could not help myself. And when I touched him I knew I would know him a very long time.

In the seven years we have known each other, four and a half of them married, we have lived a life time together; we have experienced what most couples experience after 30 or 50 years. It has been oddly wonderful and sadly perfect in many ways. My 12 year old daughter asked me today if I were still glad I married Andrew, now that he is leaving us and I was so sad. And I replied, “Oh Yes.” “Mommy…I just wish he didn’t have to go away.” That is how we all feel. We simply cannot believe he must leave us. It feels unreal, yet we see him dying in front of us…but it seems as if it were a dream sometimes.

That man has brought more laughter into my life, and more unpredictable fun, than I have ever known at any time in my life before. In spite of the illness, which started a mere eight months after we met, our time together has been the best of my life, not with standing the birth of each of my daughters. I only wish I could have learned to be witty and quick like Andrew. He always tells me he loves my full contact form of living and it just delights and inspires him, and while he finds me quite funny, I am not quick witted. I guess that was where the opposites attracted. Mostly we are similar. We are both grounded in home and family; both from large families and understand that pack mentality…although he is the middle child and I the right on target youngest. We share a love of great films, theater and music, especially chamber music. And each of us were voracious readers…he can longer sustain the attention to read, and my mind cannot be still long enough to get through a chapter, much less an entire book. I fill my time with things that can take my mind off of what is happening to him.

He decided he wanted to date me, be with only me, in March ‘02 after spending a month being my movie buddy. He was kind of dating people but not seriously…he was having fun. I would haven none of that, yet we became emotionally tied. We talked almost daily, sometimes for hours, and he got me hooked on email. He set up a whole “love is hard” movie theme for us which led to hours upon hours of discussion and analysis. That day in March we walked his dog through Phillips Academy and I shot two roles of film of him with his fancy camera. He told me the next day he knew he was going into things too quickly, but what the hell…it had to be me. He decided he wanted to marry me one day in June of ‘03 when he came outside the house and found me digging in the garden, dirty as all get out with mud smeared on my face. He would tell me this a week or two later when we were out for dinner. I laughed and told him I did not believe him. He said, “you’ll see”…and I did. He proposed to me in front of all six of our children on Christmas Eve night ‘03 just before serving us the dinner he had been working on most of the day. He placed a beautiful ring inside the left pocket of the gorgeous leather coat he gave me. After my initial shock of finding the ring and the embarrassment of the whole thing in public, he got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him…to be his wife and live our lives together, all eight of us. We married in the back garden of our home on 4 September ‘04 in the late afternoon, surrounded by our children, our parents and a very small handful of friends who had been with us throughout our courtship. They stood with us to show their support of our union, and everyone laughed and cried, and we felt elated. He has told me often he has never known anyone like me. I can say the same about him.

Before and after we married we spent many hours sitting in front of the fire in our home, drinking red wine and talking openly about our lives - the past before we met, the present here and now, and where life would take us in the future. We thought we would have a long future together and made many lovely plans.

We poured over cook books, where he would find exactly what he wanted to prepare for me, and for our family, and was the hit of the kitchen. He loved to work at a meal with either me (or one of the girls, usually Elinor) as his assistant and took such great pride in his gift to us of a fabulous meal. We adored decorating for Christmas and watched the lights on the tree night after night. He would get so tickled when I went all out and prepared for Halloween, buying the really terrifying music to scare the “you know what” out of the kids who came to trick or treat at our old, darkened house. Birthdays were always a time for celebrating and planning the person’s favorite meal and cake. Getting all six of the children together was not always easy, but he felt very strongly about doing it all together and so we did.

Our summers were spent sitting on the front porch, drinking wine after I had been digging, planting, weeding and tending to the garden we both loved and adored. In the center sits a sundial with Browning’s quote, “grow old along with me; the best is yet to be.” Andrew gave that to me shortly after we married. The children and I looked forward to the nights, into the fall, when Andrew would grill delicious dinners for us…steak, chicken, corn and vegetables… and we would eat out back by candle light, laughing and enjoying each other. We spent time in the summer at Balston Beach, a place sacred to the girls and me since 1998. Andrew and his children are lake folk, yet he tried to be a great sport about adopting our love of the ocean and the cape…the quiet little artistic town and the little shack buried behind the dunes where we stayed with my now 84 year old aunt. When he was there, he and Gaga would sit, reading the NY Times each morning, and save the puzzle for the afternoon at the beach…they were quite the team. Being almost allergic to the sun, Andrew would spend only late day hours at the beach with us under the umbrella. He was the official photographer, and loved our annual cookouts on the beach with hot dogs and sausages - which he was not suppose to eat! We spent the winters huddled by the fire reading, talking, and listening to music or up in our room - the sacred haven - huddled under the comforter watching movies from Netflix. One of his favorite days is Thanksgiving, when the local feaster five runs right past our home. We always gathered with our coffee to watch the runners, sometimes on the front porch, others inside the family room where the large window looks right out over the street. He adored watching the people run by with their dogs and children. He was happiest watching the first snow fall or falling asleep listening to the rain.

Andrew is skin and bones now, nearly unable to hold his glass of ice water, or utensils to eat. He can no longer walk, and some of his joints are beginning to ache. He sleeps 80% of the day and has started to get confused at times. Conversation is a great strain on him, as he knows exactly what he wants to say but finding the words has grown painfully difficult. He is the favorite among all the nurses and other families there visiting their own loved ones…when he first arrived at the hospice house in Reading, he would walk about, getting to know others and their families. His time with us is limited now and coming to an end.

This is what I want to share with you…he has taken this journey with great dignity and grace. He has stayed strong in the face of death and dying. He has loved his family and friends well, but now he is ready to go. He has been a wonderful, loving and supportive husband, and a great and darling confidant and friend. He serves as a role model to his children, and mine, on how a person should live his life with integrity and generosity. Andrew Rhodes Bourland is a lovely man. He will be sorely missed by all of us for the rest of our lives.

 
 
Discussion

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Comments
1.
On February 7th, 2009 at 8:38 pm, Roger Bourland said:

Lovely words. Thank you for them. Your love brought out the very best. As Andy’s parents we are so thankful not only for him - but for you.

Roger and Jo Ann Bourland

2.
On February 8th, 2009 at 4:40 pm, Tom Hespos said:

Beautiful words about a beautiful person.

Please tell Andy I’m very thankful for his friendship.

3.
On February 8th, 2009 at 5:20 pm, Jim Sterne said:

Thank you for the look at Andy from your side, Jeanne. The story of your meeting is just so - Andy! When he looks your way, you know he is focusing all of his attention on you. Thank you for stepping up to the keyboard - something that was so easy for him and now has become your sacred task. As Andy’s strength fades, remember that there are many out here who will lend you ours. Bless you.

4.
On February 8th, 2009 at 8:27 pm, Andy Wang said:

I don’t think that there are many that can say they’ve experienced life like that in such a short period of time. I for one was truly touched by your words.

I may not have met with Andy personally, but have certainly exchanged a few emails with him - as I’ve said in a previous post, it was because of him that I am now connected with the most brilliant minds in the business.

Thank you, Andy. Jeanne and family - please do take care of yourselves as well.

5.
On February 9th, 2009 at 7:39 am, elliot noss said:

andy has touched so many of us and certainly this morning you have to.

send my love please.

6.
On February 9th, 2009 at 7:42 am, Jeffrey Eisenberg said:

I’ll miss Andy. Please let him know we won’t stop thinking about him.

7.
On February 9th, 2009 at 8:07 am, Kendall said:

Jeanne:
I know and respect what it must have taken to write, to blog, publicly, when that is not your way. What you have shared is amazing and a great gift. I wish you quiet peace and perfect eye contact with Andy in the remaining time.

8.
On February 9th, 2009 at 10:17 am, Pernilla Carlén (lindbergh) said:

Thank You for sharing in such a personal way. So stong. I´m sitting here with tears in my eyes. I´m so sad for You and Andy. God bless You!
Love Pernilla

Ps I don´t know if you remember but I visted Andys house in the summer of 2002 with my family. Maybe we met. I used to be Hannas babysitter

9.
On February 9th, 2009 at 7:11 pm, Ed said:

Thank You Jeanne. We do want to know.
I hope it was healing for you to write that.

Good health to you,
Ed

10.
On February 9th, 2009 at 7:22 pm, Jeff Walker said:

Jeanne,

You wrote:

“I was drawn to his extreme openness, honesty and his story”

Yes - we all were.

Thank you for sharing in such a personal and tender way. It is hard to read about Andy slipping away, but your beautiful sharing truly helps.

It’s been a privilege knowing Andy. I left every interaction I had with him with a smile. As you said, he truly is a lovely man.

- Jeff

11.
On February 9th, 2009 at 10:24 pm, Mike Young said:

Jeanne,
Thank you for sharing this update. Thoughts and prayers remain with Andy, you, and your family.
Sincerely,
-Mike

12.
On February 9th, 2009 at 10:31 pm, Shannon said:

Jeanne,

What a wonderful story of how you and Andy met. I know it took a lot of courage to write all that you did and I’m truly appreciative and thankful that you shared this.

It was a real pleasure meeting you and seeing your home, 2 summers ago as we were traveling through MA to Maine. (and we stayed a bit longer than anticipated because we had gotten that flat tire!)

Andy is an inspiring man. I’ll never forget meeting him at the local Glazer-Kennedy Chapter meeting in Cambridge. It was really wonderful to be able to work with him and travel to a conference with him too.

You are so right about his smile… He always made me laugh and I will always be thankful for the pleasure and opportunity to work and be friends with him.

You’re all in my thoughts in prayers.
Shannon

13.
On February 10th, 2009 at 12:11 pm, Alan Petersen said:

Jeanne,

Thank you so much for sharing such a personal matter with us all. I truly appreciate it. I’ve never met Andy personally but he was always so kind and helpful sharing his knowledge in an Internet marketing forum. I always appreciated that. Please tell Andy that he helped so many people like myself that he never even met in person. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Andy, and the rest of the family.

14.
On February 10th, 2009 at 7:00 pm, jeanne said:

I want to thank you all for your lovely notes…I have read them to Andrew as they come in, and he has felt uplifted by your caring and support.

We both send our gratitude…

15.
On February 11th, 2009 at 5:37 pm, Jim Kelly said:

Andy was the best boss anyone could possibly have: compassionate, tough, smart, generous. He wrote the nicest thing anyone ever said about me and published it for the world to see. He changed my life and enabled me to find prosperity I never knew existed. His sweetness and good humor made work for him a pleasure and our occasional disputes (mostly after ClickZ was sold) only made me realize how much I love him. Andy changed my life for the better. I hope he will always be my friend. God bless him. Godspeed.

16.
On April 9th, 2010 at 9:16 am, Aron Dapas said:

Oh my GOD! now there is a excellent way to fix your RROD I just found out last thursday. Check my link posted. If it does not work try rrod-fix-pro dot com.

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