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  1. Wilde, Andrew J.
  2. Wilde, Mary H. PhD, RN
  3. Wilde, Mary H.
  4. Hensel, Mamie MS, RN, PNP

Article Content


FIGURE. Mary and And... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE. Mary and Andrew in 1985.
FIGURE. Tarzandy, 11... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.

My son, Andrew Wilde, whose death at age 16 resulted from a rare type of brain tumor (gliomatosis cerebri), was among other things a budding artist. Before he became ill his drawings included studies of perspective, animation, the human body, and portraits.


At age 14 Andy began to have uncontrolled seizures. He was seen by physicians at four major medical centers before the tumor was diagnosed and treatment was begun. During his illness, our family visited physician and author Bernie Siegel, who encouraged Andy to continue drawing as a way to help him understand and communicate his experience. He did so, expressing himself through art when words failed.


When Andy died, we held an informal wake for two days in our living room. His casket was surrounded by flowers. Family and friends came from all over the country. In the dining room, people browsed through albums of family photographs and Andy's drawings. Although it was very tiring, I'm glad we had the wake in this way. Many people told us how meaningful it was to see his artwork. Sharing his life and his death with others has been an important part of my healing. Andy's art has continued to connect us with him and to remind us of his brave and honest spirit.


People who have life-threatening illnesses, particularly children, can find it difficult to speak about their experiences. But art often reflects the experiences and emotions of its makers, and may indicate a subconscious awareness. Six of Andy's drawings appear here with interpretations by me and Mamie Hensel.



FIGURE. Frustrated S... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.
FIGURE. On the Table... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.
FIGURE. Electrocuted... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.
FIGURE. Face of Deat... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.
FIGURE. Andy Slays t... - Click to enlarge in new windowFIGURE.