After 9 heart surgeries and 15 different medications, Andy Mackie, from Port Townsend, Washington, decided he was finished wasting his days, and finances, on pills. He decided that he would spend his “final” days doing something he had always wanted to do: give children the joy of music.
Mackie decided to take the money that would have gone to his medical expenses and, instead, purchase 300 harmonicas to give to students at a local elementary school. Along with this gift, he spent these “final” days giving free music lessons to any child that wanted to learn.
“Music is a gift,” Mackie stated. “You give it away, and they get to keep it forever”.
However, Mackie’s “final” days, turned into a month, and then a year, and then a decade. All the meanwhile, he continued to donate harmonicas and his own Mackie music sticks to children all throughout Washington.
11 years and 16,000 harmonicas later, Mackie was still alive and well, and not needing the aid of any heart medication.
“I guess they don’t need a harmonica player in heaven yet,” Mackie joked to reporters in 2009.
Mackie’s good deed was contagious: the older kids in the town were now teaching the younger one’s how to play the musical instruments, and a patron who heard Mackie’s story decided to donate $5,000 to the cause.
“I can’t explain the joy,” Mackie explained in 2009. “I don’t think Bill Gates feels any richer inside then I do.”
Joy must have been the miracle medicine for Mackie, as since he had stopped taking his medication, he survived several more heart attacks and a 10th heart surgery.
Before his death on November 6th, 2011 he had given out a total of over 20,000 harmonicas and 5,000 Mackie music sticks
While Mackie is dearly missed in the town of Port Townsend, the patrons can take comfort in knowing that heaven has one of the best harmonica players up there now.