Saturday, April 30, 2005
Andrew Kelly 1958-2005
My Uncle Andrew died yesterday. It was quite unexpected until Thursday when the relatively minor problem he was in hospital with became suddenly more complicated. He was forty-seven years old.
Everybody is doing okay. Andrew had profound learning difficulties and pretty bad epilepsy along with an increasing collection of minor ailments, so there was always some fragility and this was by no means the first time that we had reason to fear for his life. My Granny's first response was that she thought he was about to die when his kidney's failed at twenty-three, so every year since was a bonus and a blessing. He died very peacefully with his brother's close by. Plus I know Granny was very concerned about what would become of him after her death. I guess at least she now know's he is all right. Catholicism helps with this sort of thing.
He lived with my grandparents up until his thirties so was a very significant character in my childhood, a playmate as well as being somewhat of a curiosity; this child in an adult's body. At one point, when a bad reaction to drugs wound up with him being under section, I used to come home from school to find him sat in his pyjamas on our garden bench having escaped the local mental hospital. He always seemed fine to me and it never seemed right for him to be dragged off by the psychiatric staff half way through whichever board game we were playing.
He didn't have a very good gauge of his own strength so we sometimes used to get pinched and pulled about in a painful if purely affectionate manner. Very occassionally he could get frustrated with his young nieces and once blutacked the enigmatic sign to his bedroom door "Keep Keep Wood Up". We thought this was hilarious at the time which is why it has stuck in my head. Weren't we evil?
He loved Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and Lego, donating much of his collection to me at one point. He was also a fanatic collector of keyrings and bags, keeping one inside another inside another. He loved to spend time with us all and every visit or outing or humorous birthday card was welcomed like some tremendous treat.
Andrew had a very warm nature and an excellent sense of humour. Many of the most notable and dramatic incidents of his life were when things went wrong, when the drugs screwed him up or when the family struggled to get adequate provision for him. But the picture I have linked to at the top of his page, taken by my sister at my cousin Jenny's wedding in 2003 is pretty close to the way I shall remember him.