My husband faced the deterioration of his body and the inevitability of his impending death (yes we all know we’re going to die sometime but it’s different when you know it’s sometime soon). Somehow he maintained his grace, gratitude, and goodwill. I think these lessons from Larry we can all apply at this time of world chaos.
Everything became unpredictable to him, from the daily ability to hold a spoon, to the ability to draw an easy breath. And now everything is becoming unpredictable to us, from where we can go, to wondering if we’ll have money to survive, to searching for a store selling toilet paper. Somehow Larry learned how to accept whatever came that day, without giving up, without wasting energy mentally fighting it and without complaining.
We have to accept, and not give up, but not waste energy wishing what is happening isn’t happening. Because it is. And really stop complaining about being asked to stay home so as to save lives of others more vulnerable.
Larry found a way to continue to appreciate life in an increasingly small “lifespace,” as international, then local travel, then even walking became impossible. The beach was a favorite place to relax and regroup, first playing frisbee or paddle ball, then just walking, then just sitting and enjoying the water. When he could no longer navigate the sand, we’d just drive to the water and sit in the car and enjoy the view.
Now, our collective lifespace seems to be shrinking rapidly – my daughter lives in one of the California counties that needs to “shelter in place.” Just like Larry, we have no choice, other than how we react. We can rant about it and wish it weren’t so, or we can find ways to live with it, and appreciate life in whatever way we can experience it.
Over time, Larry lost the predictable schedule of daily work, and as many retirees find, no longer knew the days of the week by the activities on his calendar. But in its place a different rhythm took over – a rhythm that became both comforting (and sometimes annoying). It was the varied but predictable rhythm of physical exercises, voice exercises, and lung treatments.
We are rapidly losing our predictable schedules and it’s hard to adjust. We need to rapidly put new rhythms in place, creating some variety and predictability for ourselves, because who else will do it for us?
Larry was open about his problems and in his acceptance of his vulnerability, he drew people to him. He was always grateful for the help he received, even though he didn’t want to be in the position of needing help. He always wanted to help others, and worked on helping family members even in his last year. When he couldn’t speak much, he continued to communicate and show he cared about others with a few words or a smile.
This is perhaps the most important of all the lessons from Larry. We need to be open about how vulnerable we feel – honest with ourselves and each other. And we need to communicate and show we care, help others, and be grateful for one another.
We’re all in this together. Unlike Larry, we will survive. Let’s pay attention to these lessons from Larry, his gift to us, and let’s help each other survive with grace, gratitude, and goodwill.
10 thoughts on “Lessons from Larry in this Chaotic Time”
Thank you for the posting. I never met Larry, but you describe him as someone I would have cherished meeting.
Your posting is particularly poignant for me as I recently lost my brother, Jack. He was not only my “big brother” he was the father figure in my life from my age two when we lost our father.
Jack lived a good life. He skied, played tennis, played golf, he SCUBAd, he traveled the world. He enjoyed good wine, he studied music and sang. He spoke some German, a little French and Italian and was studying Spanish. He did The NY Times crossword puzzle every day. He headed the otolaryngology department at his hospital and then became Chief of the medical staff. He was my protector, my mentor, my idol. He introduced me to many good things in life and taught me to appreciate the opportunities presented.
Jack was a Head and neck surgeon. Ironically he was stricken with neck cancer. During his last year he showed me how to deal with increasing limitations with grace and with appreciation for the things and opportunities still available to him. I grieve his loss and will for as long as I live. But I rejoice in the memories of him and the many lessons he taught me. “If you cannot say something good, say nothing.” “A smile and kind word cost you nothing .” “You do not know from what someone else may be suffering. Be kind.””Money is a tool, not an end in itself. Use it wisely.”
“Enjoy each day.”
Jack enjoyed studying philosophy and politics and discussing (not ranting) about both. I hope he and Larry are somewhere talking about both.
If they are, I’ll bet they are having a great time.
Thanks Nancy…and especially thanks to Larry who taught us so many lessons
Nancy, Thanks for sharing Larry’s inspiration! I hope you are ding okay!
This is lovely, important, impactful, helpful — for today and always.
Oh Nancy, I loved reading this! It is so true & really makes us open our eyes & say, “We will get through this!” Thankyou !
Thank you for sharing, this helps the rest of us put things in perspective,
IT ISN’T HARD TO STAY HOME, WE ARE BOTH
IN OUR 70’S AND HIGH
RISK, BUT WE ARE HAPPY
SPENDING OUR TIME
TOGETHER 💞 life is good.
Thanks for sharing. Many of us are struggling and trying to challenge authority by not wanting to stay at home while your husband, so graciously, has learned to give up things and is even grateful for what he is able to do, even if it’s less than your regular person. Thanks again.
Thank you so much for your comments and for sharing your love for your brother Jack. He sounds like a wonderful man. I hope you are holding on to the joy he obviously took from life and finding ways to make it your own!!!
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