February 27, 2007

9:30 am, February 26, 2007.

She held his hand and kissed his lips in the last few seconds of his life. Then she bathed him, shaved his face and put on his favorite Redskins hat and sweatshirt. He’s going to be cremated so it really didn’t matter. Except she loved him and wanted him to be well cared for, even at the last.

He asked for a “church service” memorial with praise, worship, teaching and an altar call. I’ll do my best.

A year ago I played Nat King Cole, Sinatra and other old love songs while they danced and renewed their vows. 30 years of marriage. He gave her a simple gold band and they both cried.

For almost 31 years they loved each other and lived sweet, simple lives that blessed everyone around them.

He’s with the Lord now and free from the pain of cancer that wracked his body these last few months. When he passed he looked frail. Cancer does that.

A gentleman who loved his wife, his daughter and the Lord. We look forward to seeing him again one day and rejoicing at the reunion. ‘Til we meet again. I know you rest the presence of your Creator as He looks out for all of us.

2:15 pm, February 26, 2007

All his life Larry lived on the edge. Edge of what? Disaster, excess, rebellion. His throaty smoker’s chuckle is forever a part of the memories I hold of him.

He’s had 3 wives, girlfriends, 3 children and earned and lost more money than I can imagine. He was always good for a laugh and was generous to us kids. He hated having any kind of “religion” thrown at him and would rather not even go see his mama than hear about that Jesus stuff.

A year and a half ago he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He had a tumor removed and he was mending. His sister would faithfully come and visit him. “How are you today, Larry? Anything we can do for you?” He would occasionally go to church with his brother-in-law and sister. He’d tolerate their prayers. He wouldn’t join in, but he’d listen.

I saw him a year ago. A shell of a man with a few dirty jokes still up his sleeve. Forgetful, easily distracted. Not quite what I remembered. But I was glad to see him.

2 weeks ago his neighbor found him collapsed in his bathroom and took him to the emergency room. Advanced systemic melanoma was the diagnosis and they gave him 24-48 hours to live. Apparently the pickling effects of alcohol will preserve your life beyond whatever the oncologist says. He was sent home with a hospice nurse and once there he lit up a cigarette and prepared himself to die.

His sister came a few more times. “Larry, do you know Jesus? Do you want to? Eternity is a long time to regret not giving him your life.”

“Hell no, I don’t need no damn religion. I’ve done fine all this time on my own. It’s a pile of bullshit anyway.”

I loosely paraphrase because I wasn’t there and his sister, my mother, would never speak such filth.

Goodbye Uncle Larry.

Unless there was a last minute change of heart, we can’t look forward to that joyful reunion.