I only met Andy Beard three times so maybe it’s questionable why I am honoring his life with a memorial web page and publication of his book of poems, Never Catch a Butterfly.
Regardless, Andy gave me his handwritten book of poems to read and he died before I could return it to him. He, a fellow writer, valued my feedback about his poems and I intend to show him due respect by publishing them on my web site.
But first, the gentleman’s obituary.
Andy was an unusual man. He lived his life and managed a business without ever having a computer – apparently never used a word processor or sent an email. From what I saw, his lone capitulation to digitalization was a flip cell phone and a VISA credit card.
I published a novel in 2017 and was out trying to sell it with my cousin Gail Heller, a fellow writer too who’s published a novella and a children’s book. We were at Half Price Books on North Decatur Road and Andy, who loved to read and watch movies, walked in. He approached us and I held up my novel.
Andy smiled then asked if he could buy it. He, however, first had to tend to some business in the back of the store that would take a while.
In the meantime, Gail and I were expected by the owners to pack up and leave at three PM which we did. Andy discovered that we had left, obtained my phone number, and called me at home. He wanted to buy a copy of my book and invited me to join him for brunch the next morning at Bagel Palace in the Toco Hills Plaza.
Andy was my second sale so I enthusiastically agreed to meet him. I got there first and watched him walk up to the front door. He stopped though to buy Girl Scout cookies from a six-year-old Brownie in uniform working the entrance. I was amazed at her use of a PayPal for the purchase.
Andy sat down and we completed the sale. He joked if I knew how to use my PayPal – he observed me struggling a bit. I answered that if a six-year-old girl can use it, so can I. Thank God, the transaction went through and we schmoozed and ate and learned about each other’s lives.
He gifted me with a DVD copy of On the Beach, a 1959 film made from the Neville Schutte novel about survivors escaping a nuclear catastrophe in a submarine to seek refuge in Australia then waiting for clouds of radiation to reach them. The movie won a bunch of Oscars and reflected his love of film.
I enjoyed his company – he was intelligent, well read, and we shared a similar world view. He revealed a number of difficulties in his life and some regrets too. I filled him in how I’d overcome the death of my wife and become a relatively happy single man.
Andy was a generous man and showed a fast hand by grabbing the check. He smiled when I complained that he’d bought my book too and also given me a DVD. I insisted that we meet again for brunch in the near future and I pay.
Andy agreed but only if he could give me a review of my novel, Dues – The Coming of Allie Cohen. I valued his feedback and scheduled our next meeting a month later at Goldberg’s Deli in Dunwoody. The Bagel Palace’s rent had been so drastically increased by their landlord that they closed their doors after thirty years at that location.
Andy shared that he liked my story and admitted that he was rooting for Allie Cohen at the end – won’t reveal what happens – which means that the story worked. I was very happy to hear that and we talked for about two hours on life, politics, environmentalism, women, and living alone.
He thought us to be an odd couple and perhaps we were. However, I pointed out to him, we were both guys the same age, single, writers, and similarly concerned citizens. I believe he was glad to hear that.
As we got up to leave, Andy mentioned that he too had published a book and handed me a handwritten journal. I promised to read his literary work and provide him feedback at our next brunch.
I was tasked to finish a number of other projects and put Andy’s volume on the list. He called me one day while I was on my way out of the apartment and had an important appointment. I listened to his phone message that essentially asked me not to bother to read his work, that I probably wouldn’t be interested and should return his book.
I intended to read his work and planned to do so – just needed more to finish up some other projects that I’d started. Unfortunately, Andy died only a month later and well before I could fulfill my promise to him so I am keeping it now by publishing him.
Andy’s work is copyrighted so I Googled the publisher, Word Publishing Company of Sedona, Arizona and discovered that it apparently no longer exists and is probably out of print too. If I possess the only copy of his work, Never to Catch a Butterfly, and a relative of his wishes to have it, I am glad to hand it over. My contact information is on my home page.
Andy was obviously not a man of the Internet and his memory and arborist legacy may blur in time. I hope that his spirit will live on in his approximately eighty poems which I have scanned, reproduced to the best of my ability, and posted on my web site.
The Andy that I knew was a clean-shaven man, not the bearded gentleman in the obituary. He was also a bit of an anachronism, his deeply valuing books, ideas, and film making him somewhat out of place and time. I viewed him as an individualist and unique person who’d paid a lot of dues for desiring his freedom to explore life. Andy similarly possessed a driving need to understand and be able to explain. You can cease examining your life Andy Beard and rest in heavenly peace.
The following poems were written
between 2000 and 2014 in Atlanta, GA at East Lake Country Club while
Andy was employed there. His work influenced the title of the next
An Arborist at