Trying to describe Larry is not an easy thing. He was an accidental friend; a person that came into my life quite unexpectedly and at a time when he was really needed. I met him at one of the fund raisers for Philip Johnson many years ago. I was to meet Carol at the hall to help set up for the event and Carol wasn't there. I needed to get in touch with her and there was Larry offering his cell phone. I did not have a cell phone and still do not have one. (I know....but really I get along without one just fine).
So I used Larry's cell phone to call Carol and while on the phone with her she asked me who's phone I was using because she did not recognize the number. Rather than tell her his name (because at this point I still didn't know his name) I started to describe him....while standing right in front of him and looking straight at him. Larry seemed to get a kick out of the description.....older biker dude; still seems pretty cool; long hair (which you know I like) and smiling eyes. Eventually I had to ask his name because although Carol was willing to play the game she really had no idea who I was describing and that could have gone on for days. He says his name is Larry I told her. And that was the beginning of our friendship.
For years Larry; Carol and I would go out places together as a threesome or in any combination of two of the three of us. I guess you could say Carol and I shared Larry's friendship. We'd go out to eat; stop in at Jimmy's for a drink and to watch the crowd; take in a movie and once I even got Larry to take a hike with me. I gave him Belle to handle on the hike and I had Nicki. He never complained once although I think Belle gave him a run for his money. The dogs were young then and still had a bit of piss and vinegar in them when taken on hikes. Months later he admitted that hike nearly killed him and he'd never go on another one. I thought it was amusing that he didn't tell me while on the hike. I had taken him on one of the short trails.....really glad I didn't take him on one of the tougher trails.He came to my son's wedding with me and we even attended some comedy shows and plays in local theater. Sometimes we'd go shopping for plants for our respective gardens....vegetables for me and flowers for him. It was nice to be Larry's friend. It was comfortable and sincere. And best of all he was game to try almost anything that came up as an option. A lot of guys are not like that.
As time went on things changed and our friendship deepened. Carol got sick with lung cancer and I leaned on Larry a little bit more for support. I was spending almost all my free time with her and trying not to fall apart. Larry was the guy that would take me out to Denny's or for a drink to get my mind out of the painful place I was living in. Larry came with me when Carol passed away. We knew first hand what her family was like now and although we were resigned to being at the wake and funeral for Carol, neither one of us felt a desire or any obligation to speak with her family. I was glad to have him at my side and I'm even more glad that I never went up to the casket. I couldn't handle seeing Carol actually dead. Larry got that...he never questioned it or tried to change my mind. I love that about Larry.
Down the road even further and Larry himself developed lung cancer. I thought for sure he wasn't going to make it and I was having nightmares about it....and flashbacks to Carol's illness. I'd stop by to check on him while he was sick and watched him get so damn thin I became desperate to get him to eat. He cut off his pony tail at one point too and I know that must have really been hard for him. He hadn't cut his hair in so long his tail reached the center of his back. But as luck would have it Larry did make it through despite the fact that he never stopped smoking. I'd nag him about that every time I saw him and he's always come back with some smart ass remark about never having said he was smart. And eventually I quit nagging him and simply made a rule that he couldn't smoke around me. That was the best I could do and he stuck to it. I really think he tried to smoke as little as possible but just couldn't stop altogether. I used to smoke myself for many years. I understand the struggle to quit so I couldn't really blame him.
Eventually things got back on track. Larry was, if not healthy at least he was cancer free and on the mend. It did take him quite some time to get back to his normal speed. And at that time his hair was growing back nicely (he never lost all of it) and he decided to keep it short. What had started out to be a haircut because of the cancer turned out to be a haircut that looked really nice on him so he kept it. We started falling back into step with our friendship; eating out; meeting at Jimmy's once in awhile; movies, talking on the phone; etc.
When I got the job at Carrington where I am now the stress of the job and constant overtime really put a monkey wrench into the middle of our friendship. I simply didn't have free time anymore like I used to. Larry and I would email each other on Face Book or talk on the phone but we didn't get together as much as we used to. He started back up with his volunteer work doing people's taxes and that took up a chunk of his time too. When tax season was over Larry would head off to his trailer in Vermont and enjoy time with his family on the weekends. The weekends turned into weeks eventually and then he was really hard to spend time with....life just got in the way. But he was enjoying himself I'm sure. He'd tell me little bits of funny stories of things that were going on or who was fighting with who in the family. He always did enjoy watching other people.
Learning of Larry's death was a shock to me and brought on instant feelings of guilt. How many times did we say we would get together soon only to put it off again because things got in the way? I did not attend Larry's wake or funeral. I simply did not think I could handle seeing Larry dead. I have seen too many friends and family dead in recent years. I don't know what Larry died of but I'm assuming that it was his heart. He had a pace maker for many years and I know over the years he's had to go in to see the doctor because it was acting up in some way. No matter how he died I hope it was fast and as painless as possible. Larry was a good man; a good friend and he enjoyed life.
My life has lost a bit of sunshine since he's been gone. Farewell my friend. I hope you are riding a motorcycle somewhere out there in the cosmos.