Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Good-Bye Journey

 When I was growing up in Seattle on 38th NE, these two little boys were growing up on 36th NE. They are my cousins, Dale (brown hair) and Larry (blond). My mother's brother Harold and his family lived just two short city blocks from us. These boys are both older than I and my brother, Dale by seven years and Larry three 1/2 years. But we did have fun playing all sorts of games in our respective basements when the adults would get together. We also had a large extended family in the area, as my mom and Harold had six other siblings. What a group of cousins we had, and how much fun we all had together. It was a great part of my growing up.
 This photo always makes me laugh, as at one of our family get-togethers both Harold and Larry were worn out!
The boys and I did not attend the same schools after grade school however, as Dale and Larry graduated from Roosevelt High in Seattle and I had the great privilege of attending a private Christian school through graduation. We all went our separate ways after that.
Larry has a wonderful testimony of that time in his life, and has shared it in High Schools and Churches around the Seattle/Everett area for many years. Briefly told, he got involved with alcohol and drugs in school, and ended up becoming an alcoholic and heroin addict, living on the beaches in Hawaii in the late 60's-early 70's. His mother was praying for him, and one day he wandered into a church on Maui, and picked up a Gideon Bible and began to read it. The wonderful Pastor there found him and took him home, resulting in Larry giving his life back to Jesus. God instantly and miraculously took all addictions away from him, including heroin, nicotine and alcohol. What a huge blessing that has been for him all these years. As he says, God took the monkey on his back away, when he had lost all hope it could ever be removed. He came home and got his life straightened around. About that time, I had married the insurance man, and was living in Seattle while he trained in the Oregon National Guard. I could join him in San Antonio for the last part of training, but my Dad didn't want me driving that far by myself. Larry was home but still at loose ends, so volunteered to go with me. He and I drove together, straight through from Burns (where my in-laws live) to San Antonio, taking turns at the driving. He still had a full beard and very long thick blond hair, so when we were stopped outside of Phoenix for speeding in the dead of night, the police officer was suspicious in the extreme of any 'hippies'. I convinced him to call my Dad, who then explained the situation and we were let 'go', much to both our relief. All the south at that time was wary of hippies, and we had some funny experiences along the way.  After some heavy duty sleep, Larry flew back to Seattle, went to work and met a lovely girl, Merry Ludwick who he married six months later.

 Larry's dad Harold worked at Todd's shipyards at Elliott Bay in Seattle. Sadly, he later contracted Mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, and died at age 65. My aunt Nuna was left a widow at a fairly young age, and lived alone for many years. Larry remained very close to his Mom, and they lived around the town of Marysville for many years. She died last year, and I wrote about her on this blog. She was living in an assisted living facility in Everett, and Larry went to visit her most every day.

Larry and Merry have two children, a daughter Poppy and a son Paul. They now are each married, and Larry has three granddaughters. Larry has been retired from the Everett School System for the last few years and enjoying his granddaughters. This past year he was diagnosed with the same terrible form of cancer as his father. Larry worked at Todd's Shipyards for two winters after high school, before leaving for Hawaii, and it seems that was enough to be exposed to the asbestos. They did find the cancer much earlier than with Uncle Harold, and did a major surgery last fall. However, the cancer has returned and currently Larry is in the University of Washington hospital for pain control and radiation. It is only a matter of time now, and since he just turned 65 last month, it looks as if he will pass away at the same age as his father did.

The insurance man and I are joining my brother this week-end and another cousin to go and say good-bye. It will be both good and hard all rolled into one. The very good news is that Larry has served our God and his Savior and is at peace with knowing this is in God's plan for his life. We will all be together again one day soon. I am so glad that I have an opportunity to go and say good-bye, and hopefully encourage him and Merry. These are never easy times in a family, and yet what a blessed hope we have as believers...and how much we have to be thankful for in our redemption. 

1 comment:

Monica said...

I'm sorry to hear your news. I can relate as I grew up with so many cousins around me. But yes, you are right, there is a peace knowing he has served our God in a faithful manner. I will say a prayer for your family.