Andy Kavanagh-Mosson was born in 1936 into a different world, the son of an unmarried Irish mother who fled to London to ensure that she could keep her child. She was a strong and determined woman, whose strength and determination were inherited by her son. In order to make a living she fostered homeless children, and was one of the few in that racist era who willingly fostered children from African or Asian backgrounds.
Andy grew up surrounded by strong women who struggled and survived in poverty, who faced up to racism and discrimination, and developed a burning sense of fairness and justice that he carried with him all his life. It was a life that took him far.
Andy was a Royal Marine who saw active service in Suez and Cyprus. He was a Metropolitan policeman who once arrested one of the Kray twins – for traffic offences. He went alone to arrest one of London’s most feared gangsters, Andy was afraid of no one. He stood up to bullies, he was unbowed by threats. He would not be told that he couldn’t do something. He knew the difference between right and wrong.
But Andy was not defined by the Marines or the Met. He was a man with a rich life, with a love of nature, a deep knowledge of plants and wildlife, and a sensitive and expressive artistic ability. He found love, and he returned love.
Andy was complete within himself, but he was no island. Andy was connected and saw the connections that link every living being. His greatest gift was the ability to help others see those connections too.
Andy’s great achievement was his inner calm and tranquility. He was a man who was at peace with himself. He had a strength deep in his soul, a strength that he shared with those he loved, a strength and determination that was his gift to those who knew him.
His happiest days were spent in Spain, sitting in the warm evenings on the balcony, a glass of wine in hand, his dog Lottie by his side, watching the sun go down over the mountains to the west, a smile of contentment on his face.
But it was Scotland that became his home. It was in Scotland and amongst Scottish people that he found his family. His last years were spent in Scotland, where he was accepted, and valued, where he felt safe and where he knew he would be cared for and loved. His last conscious act was to cast his postal vote in the referendum, a few days before he passed away. He voted for a Scotland that will stand up to bullies and will be unbowed by threats, a Scotland that will not be told it can’t, a Scotland that is complete within itself and at peace with itself, that knows the difference between right and wrong, a Scotland that knows how to love and how to care.
Faced with summing up a deep and beautiful and beloved man in a few short words, I have only silence and grief. No vision through the tears, no music amongst the sobs. There is no justice which can be done to him in a few paragraphs, no fine words can be enough. All there is is the aching loss, the absence of a part of myself. But I’ve learned the lessons he taught me, I have shared in his inner strength, I have learned to be complete within myself. These are the things that Andy gave me, and I will treasure them like I treasure the precious bundle of memories of our time together.
His body has gone, he will be missed, he will be mourned. His smile will only be seen again in photographs, his warm embrace felt only in the privacy of the mind. But his spirit lives amongst and within.
Andy will always be with us, in a raindrop that falls in Carntyne, in the falling of a leaf, and in the branches of the rowan tree.