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My parents lost the younger of their two sons and I lost my younger brother, Andy, earlier this week.  In truth, we lost him a long long time ago. And even saying that we lost him earlier this week – that isn’t quite accurate –  he died earlier this month, but we only learned of his death this past Tuesday.

That’s how it is when someone you love gives his or her life away; you never know what is going on with them until it is over or after it is far too late to offer help.

Andy began abusing drugs as a young teenager, he followed in the footsteps of our older brother – but the drugs took an even tighter hold on him. He never had a chance at a normal life after that.  In and out of “juvy” as a teen and in and out of jail all his adult life. I cannot begin to count the number of times while he was sober in prison that he “gave his life to The Lord” and preached to me about my sinfulness. Then, as soon as he was released into the real world, he promptly returned to his ‘true god’. Nor can I count the times we gave him a place to sleep, or paid for food, or offered words of encouragement, or…. the list goes on – and always with the hope and prayer that this time it would make a difference. That this time he would be strong enough to fight his demons. But it was not to be.

Andy didn’t finish high school, never married, never held a steady job, had no children, never owned a home, and barely ever had more than the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet.

He was found dead on a Mesa street and taken to Maricopa Hospital with no identification. He died of heatstroke on September 3, 2011 – as an indigent with drug toxicity and with no known family. His fingerprints revealed to the authorities that his last known place of residence was a halfway house. The angel-on-earth who runs the house and had taken Andy in for many years, over and over again, was contacted on Tuesday, September 20th. He, in turn, called my dad, who was in Colorado visiting family. Over the phone is how our poor father had to learn that his 47-year-old son was dead.

It’s been a very difficult week, we will bury my little brother on Tuesday, at St. Francis Cemetery, in a grave that will be next to the space reserved for my dad, when he passes, hopefully, many years from now. It is a true blessing that they will be together when that time comes.

It is by the grace of God that we were able to learn that Andy had died. I can’t bear to think that we may have never known. It is because of the dedication and commitment of Maricopa County workers, who do all they can to track down the families of lost souls like my brother, and we can not thank them enough for that!

His obituary is in this morning’s newspaper, I wept when I read it, even though I am the one who wrote and submitted it. Tears stream down my face as I type now, but I’m writing this today for my little brother and for all of those people we love who struggle with addiction and are in far more pain than we will ever know.

I love you, Andy. My heart is heavy but also happy and at peace with the knowledge that you have finally found your peace and can now rest. xoxo

Robert “Andy” Andrew Otter
March 26, 1964 – September 3, 2011

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1 Sharon { 09.25.11 at 8:15 AM }

I’m sorry Linda. Thank you for telling us about Andy. My family will keep him and your entire family in our prayers.

2 sloane hansen { 09.25.11 at 8:33 AM }

Rest in Peace my sweet Andy.

3 Peggy M { 09.25.11 at 9:33 AM }

Thank you for sharing this with all of us Linda. I am so sorry to hear about your little brother. My thoughts and love are with all of you during this most difficult time. Rest in Peace Andy.

4 Kim Tunheim Salmans { 09.25.11 at 9:39 AM }

Linda what strength you have to write such a beautiful piece. I am so sorry to hear this. Praying for strength and peace for you and your family!

5 Terrie T { 09.25.11 at 10:37 AM }


I’m so sorry to hear about your brother’s passing. May you and your family find strength through this most difficult time. Please let me know if there is anything our family can do for yours. Love you.

6 Grandma H. { 09.25.11 at 11:45 AM }

What a wonderful piece about Andy! I know how hard you & your Dad tried to help him. He looks so handsome in the recent pictures, when he was drug free, I assume. You are so brave to share your sadness with all the readers of your blog. I said prayers for him & you & your family after you called me. Thanks so much for letting me know. xoxoxo

7 Ginger Tunheim { 09.25.11 at 5:39 PM }

Thank you Linda for sharing this writing about your brother. Having lost my sister, I know how difficult it is for you to write this blog. The memories are there for you and your family. You and your family are in my prayers. Everyone needs to know God will take care of Andy and your family. I know you and your dad did everything to keep Andy safe. At this time it never seems like enough. My love , prayers, and thoughts are with you during this difficult time

8 David Bickford { 09.26.11 at 9:39 AM }

I am sorry to hear of your loss and the circumstances that led to it. Your brother was only a year older than I am now, and it’s always sad to learn of a life ended too early.

9 barbara { 09.26.11 at 10:24 AM }

Dear Linda,
I am so, so sorry. I know how much you tried to help. Terry and I are keeping you and your family in our thoughts and prayers.

10 Beth { 09.28.11 at 6:18 PM }

Linda and Family,
Even today, the day after Andy’s service, I am still saddened. I just keep thinking of all the good times we had has kids & neighbors. I wish I had known Andy as an adult, but moving away from Mariposa took us all in different directions. I will always cherish my time and memories of Andy, and wish you and your family god speed! Love, Beth…

11 Linda Hopkins { 09.28.11 at 7:41 PM }

Beth, I can’t begin how wonderful it was to see you and Peggy yesterday, it was such a surprise and so much fun to catch up, even under the sad circumstance. My love to the entire Meadows family! xoxo

12 Brian Meadows { 09.29.11 at 7:55 AM }

I am very saddened to hear that Andy has passed and to hear that he had such a difficult life. I never realized how close in age we really were. I can still recall playing in each other’s yards, and riding skateboards up and down the street. I will always reflect on those memories fondly. Was it at your house we would got to for hot cocoa after Christmas caroling?
I hope that Andy, you, your family, and all that were close to him can finally be at peace.

13 Carol Meadows { 09.29.11 at 8:28 AM }

Dear Linda and all the Otter family:
My heart breaks at the thought of Andy’s tragic life journey. I pray that the Angels were with him in his final moments and that our Merciful Father welcomed him into His loving arms. May your memories of Andy be of the happiest times you had together.
May his soul rest in peace with all the angels and saints.
Blessings and comfort to you all

14 Linda Hopkins { 09.29.11 at 9:07 AM }

Dear Carol and Brian, Thank you so much for the lovely comments and remembrances of Andy and our time together on Mariposa Drive. I will pass them along to my parents, Dennis, and Gennine. Yes, Brian, it was our house for Christmas carols, such wonderful childhood and neighborhood memories. My love to you all! xoxo

15 Jayne Meadows-McKay { 09.29.11 at 10:51 PM }

My Dear, dear, long-time friend Linda,
When Mom told me & Laurie at church this past Sunday that Mrs. Topping had called and read Andy’s obituary to her, we were in total shock and immediately said some prayers for him and your family. It’s terrible that it takes a tragedy to make us realize just how short life is and when someone you’ve “known” all your life is suddenly gone. It’s then that you wish you could turn back the clock and do things differently or say something that might have had a bigger impact on their lives. It sounds as if you and your Dad tried very hard to say the right things and help Andy the best that you could. Unfortunately we can’t change the ones we love –God gave them free will.
I am sitting here crying while I read your sad words about your little brother and I wish I could be there to give you a hug and just be with you as a friend. I can just picture my Dad meeting Andy in heaven and welcoming him along with our Lord Jesus.
I hope Dennis will one day find the strength to overcome his demons. It saddens us all that he hasn’t yet, but we will be praying for him.
You are always on my mind, but even more so now. You will always be my friend. Love, peace & God’s blessings on you, your Mom, Dad, Dennis, and Sloane. Jayne

16 Linda Hopkins { 09.30.11 at 12:27 PM }

Jayne – miss you and love you, thank you! oxxo

17 Teresa Coady Otter Pfaff { 09.30.11 at 4:08 PM }

Thank you for writing so beautifully about Andy and for sharing the photos. I always remember him as a cute and funny little brother with a shy and endearing smile. For some reason I also always remember his cockatile, Paco or Pedro…?…and how much fun he had loving it, trying to make it talk and whistle. My heart weeps. Especially for your (and my) dad and mom, you, Sloane and Dennis. I pray that the God of all Comfort will hold each of us in His strong arms and some day, when we’re with Him, help us to understand. Love you so much!

18 Linda Hopkins { 09.30.11 at 7:22 PM }

I love YOU, Teresa, my sister! xoxo

19 steve meadows { 10.08.11 at 2:08 PM }

Hi Linda,
I only found out last weekend about Andy. I am sorry that you all had to go through that, and saddened that Andy life was so short, when childhood memories are still vivid. I hope and wish you all well. please pass on my condolences to the rest of the family and tell them hi for me. take care to you all.

20 Linda Hopkins { 10.08.11 at 5:46 PM }

Dear Steve, one of the wonderful things that has come out of this very sad tragedy is hearing from all of the lovely and loving Meadows family. The memories of growing up with the six of you kids on Mariposa Drive are some of the happiest of my life. I will tell everyone hello from you. I hope all is well and wonderful with you and your family. xoxo

21 Laurie Meadows Elliott { 10.15.11 at 11:29 AM }

Dear Linda,
I am sorry it has taken me so long to sit down and tell you the sorrow I feel at the loss of your brother, Andy. It saddens me that he was all alone when he died, and that you and your family had no idea what had happened. I sit here with tears rolling down my face, hurting for you and your loved ones because I would have had such a hard time, experiencing the pain you must have felt, if that had been one of my siblings. Something like this sure makes you appreciate the time you do have with your family and the opportunity to tell them how much you love them.
My memories of Andy are very fond. He was a loveable little pest with a sense of humor that wouldn’t quit (turning his eyelids inside out to scare us all!). He had a silly little laugh too. I treasure the memories of the days and nights we all played together… kick the can, hide and go seek in the dark, pickle in the streets and all the Wallace and Ladmo carnivals we had in our backyard. I too remember the Christmas caroling and the hot chocolate and cookies at your house!
I hope you and your family can feel the love we (Meadows) extend to you and we will keep all of you and Andy in our prayers.
God Bless you all!

22 Linda Hopkins { 10.15.11 at 1:08 PM }

Dear Laurie,
Aw, what wonderful and fun memories. To have reconnected with the entire Meadows clan is such a blessing. The 10 of us kids grew up together – loving and fighting just like brothers and sisters do. Miss you all, please be sure and get in touch the next time you are in town, I would love to see you! Love and miss you. xoxo

23 Chef Gwen { 10.17.11 at 9:19 AM }

Just read this beautiful post. Sorry I missed it the first time. You are such a special lady, and I am so sorry for your loss. xo

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