I guess that I should start by giving you an idea of who “Larry” is. He is the father of two friends that I grew up with that recently passed away unexpectedly. People that I have known for 30+ years. That is only the beginning. There was way more than that to that man. As I sit here writing this, I don’t pretend to have known him as well as some others that may read this. You see, Life has taken me away from this area several times in my adult life. Thus, losing close contact with many people. However, I write this based on my personal memories as well as stories and memories from people closer to him than I had become. Those include his children, wife, other friends, and even my own brother.
Larry was much more than a father, husband, neighbor, and friend. He was a teacher. He taught those who knew him many things. Some on purpose and for a reason. Others he taught us without him even knowing. He was one of the hardest working men, if not the hardest, that I’ve known. I don’t mean just physically. I’m talking about his determination and commitment to anything and everything he was doing. Whether it was his work, his family, his friends, or just things he liked to do. Whatever it was got his full and maximum effort. He was all in with everything he did. He believed that whatever it was, do it right. I remember growing up that he worked a lot, but when he was home, that’s what seemed to get his focus. That is one thing that has always stuck with me. The ability to multi-task while giving your all to everything. He taught us that. To give your ALL in EVERYTHING you do no matter how big or small.
He wasn’t just a father to his kids. He was like a father to us all. If it was jut his children, the neighborhood kids, or friends that came home from college. No matter how many or few of us were there, we felt like his own. He showed us what it is to have a warm heart and an open home. Sometimes kids just seemed to miraculously multiply, but he didn’t care. He showed us all love and respect. Don’t get me wrong, if someone needed to be set straight, he would be that kick in the pants too. Larry was a firm believer in the philosophy that you could do anything that you wanted to. You just had to give it the effort it deserved and set your mind to it. He lived that way as well. If he wanted to do something, he found a way to make it happen. Nothing was ever out of reach for him.
As he became older, health issues started creeping into the picture. That never slowed that man down. He fought against insurmountable odds at times through several battles. He always came out on top. He kicked cancer’s ass twice! No matter what tried to break him down, he got back up, stood a little taller, a little stronger, and just kept moving forward. Not once did any of it break him. If anything, it made him even more stubborn. I mean that in a good way. He refused to quit or even give up a little at all. He just kept fighting and living life to the fullest. Nothing at all was going to stop him or break his will. He lived life his way and that was that. He was very involved in his kid’s lives as well. I mean seriously involved. Every play, game, graduation, etc. If they were doing something, he was there. His family came first, and he wanted it no other way.
Sadly, he was taken from us recently. It came very quickly and unexpectedly. Just like that, he was gone. The man had taught us to be caring, loving, strong-willed, determined, committed, and stubborn men and women. The man that taught us about overcoming adversity and difficult things, living life fully, being happy, and opening our home to people. The man that taught us all so much more than I could begin to put into words here. The man that not only taught us with his words, but with his own actions and life. With his passing, we are each grieving in our own ways. Therein lies the last, and probably most valuable, thing that he taught us. He taught us that we need each other. That family is not always by blood.
Godspeed Larry. You are missed greatly, but we will carry on the lessons you taught us. You were and are more than a father, a neighbor, a husband, and a friend. You are family. Now, us family that you left behind will take care of each other. Rest easy good sir. You did your part. Now it’s our turn.