My Andy. That is what I always called him. Then I married an Andy…but I still referred to Andy Pomakoy as “my Andy”. Andy passed away yesterday morning. His daughter Sara and I are good friends. We are the kind of friends that even without constant contact, we can still pick up on the same conversation as if it happened 5 minutes earlier. Andy owned and operated “Andy’s Shoes” here in Champaign. I promise you that he has touched most of the children, young adults, 20-30 somethings feet at one time or another. He touched my son Chase’s. I was so excited when I could go into his store!! I now had a child and Andy would be the cherry on top of my sundae. Going into his store was always an event. He never looked at me when we came in. He looked at Chase. He interacted with my son and I was a side bar. Once Chase was finished picking out his newest coolest most awesome shoes, Andy would then turn to me and we would talk.
Andy listened. He talked but he truly listened. His laugh…oh my how I enjoyed making him laugh. He would throw his head back and yuck it up. He made me laugh. He made me feel important. He made me feel valued and as if I could do anything. He made our children feel that way too. I was so sad when he retired and I realized that “my Andy” wouldn’t be fitting Larkin with shoes. He loved Larkin. He understood special needs and he treated those with such, the same as everyone else. He made them laugh, feel important and above all else valued. Andy was a gift. He was the most gentle, kind, giving, loving person I have ever known. Sara and I always visit when she comes home from Virginia. I love her husband and her kids. Good solid people that I happen to be lucky enough to know. Sara shared the news of her father’s diagnosis. Shock doesn’t begin to cover the feeling. Andy is a walker. He walked to work and all around town no matter the weather. He has never been sick, always in shape and never smoked. To hear that 6 months would be considered a long time, was shocking and something we didn’t quite believe. He fought bravely, with his usual spunk and stubbornness. I received the call early yesterday morning. Larkin has been in the hospital since Tuesday so I was caught off guard. Sara and Helen is who I am sick for. Sara and her father talked every single morning. EVERY SINGLE MORNING. He called her everyday or she called him. I am so sad for her. She told me last night “it’s all gone. Our conversations are all gone.”
I spent the morning grieving off and on. I had pulled myself together a little bit until Helen, Andy’s wife and Sara’s mother, sent me an email telling me that Andy had requested that his memorial gifts be given to Larkin’s Place. Andy was just at the Christie Run for the Health of It with us. He walked the 5k with Becky. He was just WITH us. Even though my Andy is gone, he is still touching my child. He is still fitting her for life. He is still here. I haven’t stopped crying yet. What a generous thoughtful man. My Andy. Your Andy. Our Andy. He touched us all and he will be painfully missed. Sara asked me to provide a link here so that if you wish to donate to Larkin’s Place in Andy’s name, you can do so. Community Foundation of East Central Illinois