Learning from Andy’s testimony

Published 8:52 pm Saturday, August 2, 2014

Some people are living examples of how we should never give up. They keep going, keep finding a way to contribute, refusing to allow the ravages of time to stop them.

Their stories remind us that time waits for no one and no one should wait for time. I guess that means we shouldn’t keep looking over our shoulders anticipating an end of some sort.

Former Suffolk Mayor Andy Damiani is one of those people. At 93, he just keeps on reinventing himself. A Juilliard-trained bass player, he served in World War II, moved to Suffolk, married Suffolk native Mary Manos, became a real estate developer, served as mayor, retired from city government and then became a reporter for Charter Cable’s public access channel.


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Andy’s like the Energizer Bunny. He never stops going. His is a classic story of how to manage and take advantage of the different stages of life.

When I see him walking around downtown I am troubled at times. But lately what initially troubled my spirit inspires me. No matter how things have changed for him, I’d rather see him than not.

It’s never easy to battle the unfairness of age and the inconvenience of infirmity, never easy to see faculties we depend on diminish. But there are some among us who defy the odds, reject conventional wisdom and decide to live no matter what life tosses our way.

Lately I find myself smiling when I see Andy leave his office to run an errand. I marvel at his determination as he takes that cane in hand and turns the corner. He’s really living his life in spite of the challenges he has getting around now.

We should be so brave. We should be so bold, and we should be so determined. How many are in nursing homes, confined to beds, unable to leave their houses and too afraid to go out for fear someone might see we aren’t what we used to be?

To quote Dr. “Bones” McCoy’s character in a Star Trek: “What’s so bad about not having died?”

There’s nothing wrong with living through our later years boldly. Nothing wrong with not allowing the challenges to deter us. Doesn’t it take high courage to redefine the phrase “quality of life”? To decide that quality in life is doing what we can, as we can, when we can no longer do what we could?

The other day Andy asked me to sit down with him for another interview. He was a full participant in the moment, giving orders, making suggestions, asking questions and setting up camera shots.

His constant evolution seems to give him more reasons to live. Maybe that’s the secret. Maybe that’s the clue. None of us is restricted to one expression of ourselves. Each stage brings the opportunity to reinvent, redesign, refocus and re-explore ourselves.

The question is this: Are we brave enough to do it? Are we brave enough to explore another interest, take on a new career?

Should I get to my 80s or 90s, I hope I’m as alive in spirit as Andy, as determined as he is and as clear about how to carry on.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award-winning television news reporter and anchor, He is a 1974 graduate of Suffolk High School. Email him at dennisredwards@verizon.net.