Andrew Mark was my first born, a perfect baby in every way. He grew up into a fine young man, a great son, and a wonderful brother to Stephen and Timothy. He loved and enjoyed life to the fullest.
Andrew grew fast and was tall for his age. He experienced a couple of fainting attacks as a teenager. Doctors did not seem to be worried and said this was part of growing up. He had experienced an unexplained faint only the week before he died and had attended the hospital.
After finishing school Andrew travelled the world for a year, visiting many countries and staying with friends and church leaders. New Zealand was his favourite place, and he spent many months there.
Andrew fell in love with Jan and married her in 1997. His wedding day was just perfect in every way. He was so happy. (Several years later Jan found happiness again with John, and they now have a son.)
On the 8th April 1999, Andrew drove me to Heathrow Airport for my round-the-world business trip. We stopped at McDonald’s for a special time together (we often had bonding time like this).
At the airport he hugged me tightly and said: “Dad, Jan and I are ready to run the New Zealand office, if you want us to do this.”
I recommend that every parent have a bonding session with their children as often as possible. Always hug them goodbye, and always try to say goodbye on the best of terms. We parted as perfectly as anyone could that day.
Andrew helped run a youth group at his church in Sidcup and was also in charge of the football team. On the morning of the 10th April 1999, he played football. Tim was with him that day, as remarkably he had a day off from school and was visiting Andrew and Jan. After the game they went home and whilst drinking a cup of tea, Andrew collapsed.
Jan immediately phoned 999, and Tim phoned me on his mobile while holding Andrew in his arms. (Tim had only had his mobile phone for a month, but thank goodness he had one.) I was in Kuala Lumpur when the phone call woke me up from a deep sleep with the news that Andrew had collapsed.
Stephen was at a Church conference and had to be called out of the meeting and was told the news by a good friend, who then had to drive him home to be with his mother.
Shocked and overwhelmed with grief, all I could do was listen to what was happening at the other end of the line so far away. The ambulance arrived within minutes, and the paramedics tried to revive Andrew. He was taken to Sidcup Hospital located at the end of their road. I waited 10 minutes before Tim called me back and said the words I did not want to hear: “Dad you know what I have to say to you.”
Sadly, at the young age of 24 (nearly 25) Andrew Mark had gone to heaven. I was alone in a hotel room at two o’clock in the morning on the other side of the world. To say the least, this was a harrowing experience.
Through the help of a travel agent friend, I got flights back to the UK immediately.
I checked out of my hotel at 5:00am to catch a flight to Singapore, and from there, I continued the 12-hour flight home, which was to me the longest 14 hours in my life. I arrived back at Heathrow on Sunday morning, where Tim and my secretary collected me.
The next day we drove to Sidcup to make funeral arrangements and to see Jan and her family. On the way home we drove through a huge thunderstorm, and then we saw high in the sky the brightest and largest rainbow ever. We all looked in amazement at the beautiful colours stretched across the heavens and felt as though Andrew was smiling at us!
Surprisingly, a friend wrote the following poem the day before we saw the rainbow.
The rain is falling, the sky looks grey.
But through the clouds creeps a golden sunray.
It shines through the rain and across the sky,
Then a beautiful rainbow curves way up high.
The rainbow is that which God gave,
To Noah on the day he was saved.
As I heard the news on this tragic day.
I felt God tell me to write this and say.
That as tears are shed and grief takes it course,
His love is with you with mighty force.
And through those tears His love will shine,
Producing a rainbow, remember all’s in His time.
By Heather Davidson
11 April 1999
Andrew’s crematorium service was far from normal. People came from all over to celebrate his life–New Zealand, Australia, France and hundreds from around the UK. Stephen and Tim spoke eloquently about their brother; unfortunately, I was far too upset to share my thoughts.
I do remember well the words that Tim shared: “I have not only lost my brother, I have also lost my best friend.”
The most memorable moment was when the curtains were being drawn after the service, and out of the quietness in the room a mobile phone rang with the tune, I am saying goodbye. Dear Andrew had a great sense of humour, and in a way I like to think that this was his way of saying goodbye to his family and friends. These words alone sum up my Andrew: He was everyone’s friend.
There is no doubt that Andrew Mark was special, his time on earth so tragically cut short. He was a committed Christian, and we rest assured that he is in heaven.
Now ten years on, I remember my dear son daily, and I smile as I hear him whisper to me the words: “Come meet me in Heaven; I am here with my granddad!”