It Started To Get Weird in May

One day I choose every year to either celebrate or ignore is my birthday.

In 2014, I had chosen to basically ignore it as my mother had recently been in hospice, but after a couple of months, she rallied and was “discharged”.  She really wasn’t any better, she was just “better enough” to be taken out of hospice.  For those of you just joining me, my mother was 86 at the time, with congestive heart failure, failure to thrive and had begun to exhibit signs of dementia.  She’d forget to feed herself or my brother (who has early onset Alzheimer’s), she refused to stop driving, and she started to get lost in places she was very familiar with.

I had taken two weeks off from work to make sure we could go back to status quo – me stopping by every day and them taking care of themselves.  My mother was still showing enough signs of being “all there” than not (little did I know).

At four o’clock in the afternoon of my uncelebrated birthday, I received a phone call.

Them:   “Do you know Andy Rush?”

Me:  “For 35 years.  I’m his on/off girlfriend.  Why?  Who is this?”

Andy had been in the hospital for a week because he had a really bad back condition.  It got to the point where he couldn’t walk, and was taken by ambulance to Cedars in Los Angeles.  Did I mention I live in Northern California?  Okay.  Anyway, I had spoken to him every night that week.

Them:  “I’m a (some word for “person who searches for relatives”) and we found this number in Andy’s things.  He’s unconscious.”

Me:  “What do you mean, unconscious?  He was there for his back!  What the hell?”

Them:  “The doctor will contact you in a few minutes”.

Me:  “Tell the doctor I’m heading to the airport right now and I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

I met Andy when I was 17.  I interviewed him for my high school paper.  Cheezy?  Yep.

Andy and me first photo

We were perfectly suited for each other, but he had a wandering eye.  Two years after we started dating, I found he’d been cheating on me.  We broke up.  We got back together after a while when I found he was still seeing her.  I was done.  We were still friendly, and for several years we carried on while he carried on.  I finally cut it off when I met someone else.  But he’d send cards and tapes – I’d ignore them.  But I missed him.  When my new boyfriend and I broke up, I wrote Andy a letter telling him everything he did that hurt me or pissed me off, and when he got it, he called. 

Andy and me 1979

We were on the phone for 8 hours, and a month later, I moved to Los Angeles.

Basically, that’s how it was for 35 years.  When I lived in L.A., we were never apart for long.  We just liked each other.  But he was still the same.  It’s hard to explain, but it worked for us. 


I threw some things into a suitcase and called my neighbor.  I asked her to take me to the airport, which she did, and to keep an eye on my mom and brother while I was gone.

Andy and I had spoken every night that week, several hours at a time.  The night before, he had asked me to come back when he got out of the hospital.  He was going to sell his house and he wanted me to pick out a house in Ventura.  He wanted us to be together. I agreed.

Andy Rush May 14-0026

I was at the gate having just got on the list for standby when I got the call.  It was the doctor.

“Are you in a place where you can sit down?”

“Just tell me.”

“Is anyone close to you with you?”

“Please, just tell me.  I’m at the gate waiting for the plane to board.”

“He’s not unconscious, he’s brain dead. I’m so sorry.”

As I fell to my knees, she explained that the nurses had gotten him up from his bed to start physical therapy for his back when Andy said “my chest hurts” and dropped to the floor.  It wasn’t a clot, it wasn’t his mitral valve, it was an “electrical” heart attack.  The odds of surviving a sudden death heart attack are very slim – a three minute window to restart the heart.

They worked on Andy for 45 minutes.  Because they did everything, blood thinners to break clots, CPR that broke every bone in his chest, broken trachea, tubes from his head to his groin, his brain had hemorrhaged. On both sides.

I arrived at the hospital and when led to his room I barely recognized him.  And then I saw his hands.  I’d know them anywhere.  I told them to remove all of the equipment as there was no way he was going to recover.  For 21 hours, I sat with him, holding his hand for hours, playing our music and talking to him.  He took his last breath with his face in my hands.  He had turned 60 three months before.

He had cheated on me again – by leaving before he should.

andys hands 1



  1. Sean Mitchell · April 4, 2015

    Thank you for putting this up Barbara. It’s still hurts in this household, too. Such a unique, interesting, troubled man. The most unbelievable mix of generosity and selfishness, free spirit with inhibitions…you loved him, until he just plain pissed you off. I think that was part of the draw to him…the absolute conflict and uniqueness (true uniqueness, not the label some folks get slapped with) that was Andy. He would trip over himself to show you/teach you something, then just roll his eyes at you! Going to L.A. has lost it’s meaning for me. Because he was always there, whether it was a quick dinner or an all-day tour of Hollywood of Venice Beach. He made sure you saw the Hollywood sign, knew what star died in that hotel, got a French dip at Philippes, and caught a Dodgers home game if his cash was good at the time. There was always a mix tape to listen to, a scanner call to roll by, a quick beer in this dive, and never-ending frustrations with other drivers. He would serve it all up with humor, a side order of sarcasm, and wash it down with a mug of cynicism. I am proud to say I am one of the few that “got” Andy. It was never easy, never completely pain free…but you always went back for more like a moth to the light. We miss you, buddy. I’m looking forward to the tour when we meet up again.


    • Barbara · April 4, 2015

      Thank you for understanding why it never ended with us. Your “humor/sarcasm/cynacism” line is perfect – everything I know, I learned from him. And yeah, L.A. has no draw anymore. The heart of it is gone.


  2. Mitch and Molly · April 4, 2015

    We are so very sorry to hear about Andy.


  3. tweedles · April 5, 2015

    A whirlwind Barbara,,, that is what your life has been. One after another. Your feet never touch the ground for long until you are scooped up and twirled into the atmosphere again and again.
    We never knew Andy.. but we knew you loved him. We have heard you talk of him, and he was part of you.
    All the things in your life that you are doing, and have done were all meant to be part of your story, What makes you – your own unique you.
    Its time for the whirlwind to set you free,,, and its time for you to catch a magic bubble or maybe hitch a ride on the blue butterfly. Your story is so felt deeply,, into our bones.


  4. rottrover · April 5, 2015

    I can comment today! Again, I’m so glad to see you back and so very sorry for the sudden loss of your friend. Please keep posting…


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