For my son Andrew

Excerpts from the eulogy delivered by Dr. Joel Phillips, WCC department of composition, history and theory, on Feb. 27 at Gill Chapel.

There are no words that can measure the depth of my gratitude to a community that has done so much for me and my family. Thank you all so much for your love and kindness, your support and caring, and everything you have done to honor my child and to ease our suffering.

Andrew’s brain chemistry was slightly different from that of most people. The biological process that created his phenomenal mind and unique personality also brought us here today. Despite monumental efforts on the part of all who loved him, Andrew chose not to seek help. If any of you ever has a problem, please show your love for Andrew by promising to seek help. Despite the fact that his opinion of therapists and medicine was negative, Andrew loved his friends and would never want to lose one.

After one of his first teacher conferences, I told Andrew how proud I was of the work he had done, but said that the comment that meant the most to me was that he was such a kind and thoughtful child. He expressed this in different ways. He was such a good writer. In the last two years he took up painting and made really wonderful abstract works, which he presented to family and friends. He called our house the “Phillips Gallery” because we have so many of his works. He also loved all kinds of music, from John Cage to Radiohead.

Andrew was a fantastic big brother. He was so proud of Tom and of his achievements. He went to his concerts and listened to his recordings. He was also very protective and said that anyone who did anything bad to Tom would have to answer to him. When Andrew hit the teen growth spurt and towered over Tom and his friends, he called them the Scooter Squad. They loved it and called him “Big Andy.” Of course teasing is a boy’s way of expressing approval. He was so happy Tom had such good friends.

Andrew had a great sense of humor. Nothing was more rewarding than doing something that made him react with that deep belly laugh. You couldn’t help but join in. Andrew also loved practical jokes. One time I bought some cereal for Elizabeth. Andrew didn’t know this and thought I bought it for myself. He poured white pepper and ginger into it to spice it up. When Elizabeth ate the cereal, nothing seemed wrong at first, but gradually things began to heat up. We thought this was hilarious, but didn’t tell Andrew. That’s because Elizabeth thought Andrew might enjoy some cookies with cayenne pepper. It was hard to stay ahead of him though. He must have spied a little red and called for Tom to try it out. We all had a big laugh — even Tom.

The technical definition of family is blood relation, but I actually prefer a broader definition, one that is defined by the love we show one another. We are so fortunate to be part of this caring University community. You are family. Andrew knew how much he was loved and he loved all of us very much. He was family.

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