This is Andrew. The husband of my mother-in-law's cousin, he is no real relation to me, except in spirit.
There is no way to adequately convey the loveliness of old Andrew, except to repeat what Sarge has often said: that Andrew may very well be a tsaddik, one of the true righteous, living secretly among us, "for whose sake alone the world is not destroyed."
A good, righteous man. Funny, kind, quiet. Once a long time ago, he was an Army Air Corps boy, then a young man who worked hard for his family and played minor league baseball in his spare time ("I loved the way he smelled when he came from a game," his 87-year-old wife confided in me recently. "All sweat and sunshine--he was so sexy, I would lean in and sniff him...")
Devoutly Catholic, now eighty-nine, Andrew is one of the more open-minded and curious people I've met, with great tolerance for differences. He attended a Passover Seder I hosted and followed along in the Haggadah with great interest, asking questions and joining in the Hebrew and Aramaic songs. When it was over, he took my hands and thanked me for the service and the matzoh ball soup.
He is the only real grandfather Hedgehog has ever known. When we visit Texas, Andrew goes out early, trundling patiently along to help my daughter fill the birdfeeders and spread corn for the deer who come to graze on my mother-in-law's land. I love to watch them every morning from the picture window, industrious in their task, often returning to the house hand in hand.
Notes on the photo: Andrew, a Technical Sergeant in the U.S. Army Air Corps (later became the Air Force), circa 1944. Ratlesden RAF Base, England. The plane with the wonderful nose art, a B-17 G, was later shot down over Belgium, although the pilot survived.