Thursday, April 30, 2009

Papa Larry

It’s funny how life can realign one’s priorities, isn’t it? I haven’t written anything for my blog in over a week, which feels like an eternity. Somehow it just hasn’t been a top priority for me just lately.

See, my stepfather-in-law died last Saturday night. Just like that. Saturday during the day he was happily visiting with his family at a get-together celebrating his granddaughter’s first communion. Saturday night he was rushed to the ER. Sunday evening he was gone. Bam.

And so it goes.

“Stepfather-in-law” sounds pretty distant. But that is definitely not the case. Larry was a profoundly important part of my life and my family’s lives. He was a great guy and we were very close.

I want you to know Larry, at least a little bit. When I think about Larry, I wonder ...

How many books did he read to our kids?
How many pens did he carry around in his shirt pocket?
How many puzzles did he work - crossword, sudoku, word problems, pencil puzzles, etc?
How many horrible puns did he crack?
How many baseball games did he watch?
How many old rock and roll songs did he know?
How many "Oh bloody hells" did he mutter under his breath?
How many pictures are there of him with his hand up in front of his face?How many walks through how many different neighborhoods did he take?
How many quick trips out to the store to pick up this or that?

Larry was so good. He loved our kids unconditionally, and took such joy in playing with them, reading to them, teasing them. Our foster kids were accepted and loved without question as his own grandkids. He would do anything for anyone. We are going to miss him so much.

His grandkids called him “Papa Larry.” Cori says that she will remember the walks, just walking nowhere and talking about nothing. Wes says that he will remember the jokes, which Wes thought were funny, and that made two people (counting Larry).

I cannot adequately convey what a unique personality Larry had. He redefined the word eccentric. He was a wonderful person, with the rare combination of such deep compassion and an unbelievably bizarre sense of humor. I loved being with him, talking with him, exchanging jokes with him, talking baseball trivia or rock and roll history with him. I loved how he said some words with a bit of a British accent, but not all words. When he laughed sometimes it was completely silent but hid shoulders would shake up and down exaggeratedly.

What a tragedy. He was 57 years old and his heart was so badly damaged by the attack that the only glimmer of hope was a transplant, but there just was no way they could have gotten him stable enough to do it.

Just like that. Bam. Here – Gone.

So with all the stuff I could be blogging about – H1N1, the amendments to the United Methodist constitution, the economy, upcoming sermon topics, other churchy things, the first place Kansas City Royals, and so forth – I just can’t seem to muster the energy to focus on them long enough to come up with anything significant to say about them. They’re just not that important at the moment.

We miss you, Papa Larry.

Oh bloody hell…


TN Rambler said...

Out of all the things contained in your "things I could have blogged about" list, you've chosen the only one that is really and truly important. May God's blessings be upon you and your family in this time of mourning the loss of "Papa Larry"


Anonymous said...

Willa is going through a terrible time of the world getting bigger and scarier. Death is her constant source of anxiety, although Heaven is her destination. May you find the ability to comfort your babies with your words or presence in this time when the why is justified yet unanswerable. Praying for you all - Shelly, Roger, Willa and Isa

Tracy Crowe Jones said...


My heart goes out to you and your family. You wrote a beautiful tribute to your step-grandfather (it even made me a little teary). There are some relationships in our lives that affect us more deeply for a variety of reasons and Larry sounds like one of those people. Be good to yourself.


Jeremy V. said...

Very sorry for your loss. Prayers are with you and your whole family. Peace, Jeremy

Anonymous said...

Rev Andy

We love you and your family and are sorry for your loss.

Coble family

Anonymous said...


My condolences to you and your family.


DogBlogger said...

So sorry for your loss, Andy.

Anonymous said...


I agree with Wayne--you chose the right topic. Jews believe that as long as someone is remembered, he can never truly die. Surely Papa Larry will live forever, not just with his God, but in your heart and the hearts of your family. May God be with you, your kids, and especially your wife in this difficult letting go.