I visited my friend Larry today. You may remember my earlier posts about Larry. Last year, he unexpectedly had a stroke and heart attack while in his mid-40's. Larry's fate struck me as tragic. He is a nice guy who had a normal future ahead of him; now, it is gone.
Larry is paralyzed on the left side of his body. Fortunately, the brain-damage we feared didn't occur and his mind is normal. His body, however, will not recover more than it has so far. He can't walk and can't do anything with his left arm which, sadly, was his dominant one.
In the months after his attack, Larry was seriously depressed. He had to come to terms with the loss of his future. He saw his inability to do all the normal activities of life. Recently, Larry's attitude has changed, for the better. He's now concentrating on the things he can do, the activities and joys of life still available to him. The feeling of sunlight while basking outdoors on a beautiful day. The unconditional love of his 12-year old dog. The affection of friends.
Before his attack, Larry moved back to his childhood home to take care of his ailing father, Ralph. Last week, Ralph died. He was 82 and in poor health, but you never want to left go of your parents. They are our signposts in life.
I did my best to cheer Larry up and we philosophized about The Big Picture. I was glad to see Larry in better spirits than before and my visit seemed to help him.
Just yesterday, I myself was confronting these issues. On a long walk, I reflected on my own life. I was fortunate to have a happy childhood, in a loving family of four. My family surrounded me with warmth and encouragement. While I could quibble about aspects of my childhood, I won't; I've let those things go.
My mom died young (at my age, 54) and my younger brother died unexpectedly at 33. My dad, who is also 82, has serious health issues. I hope he lives forever but I know that's unrealistic. Soon, I will be left alone, the only survivor of my family. How strange that is. How discomforting. I am staring into the void of the universe, finding it cold and empty.
People often note, sometimes critically, how generous I am to my friends. What they fail to see is my desire to create new family, to reproduce loving relationships I had early in life. I may have lost my biological family but I haven't lost my desire for loving connection.
How about you? What's your take on The Big Picture?
My parents, Ralph (Sr.) and Barbara Jo
My brother Richard