Andy Mackie had survived several heart operations, which is commendable. What a fighter. However, he was also on lots of medication (a variety of 15) to manage his health – all with their own trying side effects.
He must have grown tired of taking all that medicine because one day he decided to stop taking them altogether. Instead, he chose to use his prescription money for something he was passionate about, something he’d always dreamt of doing: he bought 300 harmonicas and gave them to children, plus he taught them how to play it.
Maybe the medication made him feel so bad he felt it wasn’t worth living for. Maybe he was ready for the consequences of quitting the drugs. However, it would seem the music became his medicine because he survived way beyond the point he stopped taking them. Eleven years later, his big heart had given away 16,000 harmonicas and tons of lessons. He even received a $5000 donation which he used to hire an assistant music teacher. And he used a big chunk of his social security check to create additional stringed instruments called “strum sticks” for kids. He also encouraged the older kids to teach the younger one. Such was his passion and reach that kids all over town were playing instruments. He said, “I don’t think Bill Gates feels any richer inside than I do”.
Sadly, Andy passed away in November 2011, but he gave such a gift, left such a legacy for thousands of kids. In his words, “Music is a gift. If you give it away, you get to keep it forever”.
Rest in peace, Andy. Rest in music.