This is a time of profound pain and sadness for all of us that knew Larry and loved him. The thoughts, prayers, sympathies and expressions of condolences extended to our family during this time has provided a small measure of comfort to us and for that we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Ultimately, it’s going to be God’s Healing Grace and comfort that will get us all through this.
We all gathered here today to remember Larry and to celebrate his life. I think that the proper way to honor and respect his life is to try as best to consider the entirety of him, not just the parts we find palatable and easy to take.It through the obstacles and hard times that he had which allowed the testimony that was life to bring praise and Glory to the One he served. Larry was a man that we all loved and cared for and he was a man that had enormous struggles and hard times in his life. I want to talk just a little bit about my brother as I knew him. I am going to talk a little about him from the perspective of being his younger brother. First off you have to know that I am the youngest of 5 boys. All of my older brothers have birthdays in the month of July, they are all year apart from each other. Larry was the youngest of the original 4.Larry got to be the baby for 14 years until I came along In October and ruined it for him. So by the time I was really old enough to be aware of anything, Larry had already moved out of the house.
My earliest memory of him was when he lived on Amelia street, and he used to drive this yellow Chevy Nova, this is back in the 1970’s. I remember sometimes he would come scoop me up to spend the night with him. He would always give me money, buy me candy and stuff and I remember during parade season he, and my other brothers too, would put me up me up on his shoulders so that I can better see and catch beads. And for whatever reason, I got this vivid memory of spending the night at his house, laying on his chest watching TV . There was nothing special about that day but it always stood as a very nice moment.
Now, as I got older(around 10 or 11) our dad retired and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, sugar diabetes and what was called at the time hardening of the arteries. My dad would progressively require more and more help over the years and it was around this time that my oldest brother Herman and Larry had moved back in with us.
It was during this time that Larry struggled with drug addiction. So the situation was a mom that worked in the evenings, combined with a sick father that needed help and a brother that was on drugs and you can understand how that sets up for a bad situation. Our relationship changed for the worse during this time. We fought a lot and there were moments where we said things to each other that we both later regretted. It was hard and I could never understand why my mom stood by him and gave him chance after chance.
Now here is what I couldn’t appreciate at the moment, but learned as I got older was that even when Larry was at his lowest moments he still acted in a spirit of love. The words he spoke when he wasn’t in the throes of addiction were always for the good. He never encouraged me to engage in drugs. He told me to stay in school. He helped me take care of our dad. And when the stuff he did in the streets would come to the house, he did the best he could to keep me away from it.
What I also didn’t appreciate was that the long suffering steadfastness, patience and enduring love my mother showed was an example of the love that Jesus Christ has for all of us. And it paid off. After many trials and errors Larry rededicated his life to Christ, he quit drugs, he quit drinking, he quit smoking and he became a man of God. That didn’t mean he became a perfect man. He still had a bit of a temper, or as my Brother Michael puts “ he still got a lot of daddy in him. “
On more than one occasion I told him that he was the brother I was most proud of. It’s one thing to be, like it was in my case growing up, a person that largely stayed out of trouble. It’s another thing to persevere and lift yourself up out of a deep and dark place in your life. My brother did that.
What’s striking to me is how our relationship did a 180 over the years. If you were to ask my 15 year old self how me and Larry would have been when I got older, I probably would have said that I wanted nothing to do with him. But as it turned out every time my adult self would visit New Orleans after our mom died that Larry’s house would be my default go to place because that is the place that felt the most like staying with my momma.
We went from being Big brother and little brother to being two grown men talking about life and relationships. He gave me a key to his house and would tell me to be careful when I was out and about when visiting. I usually left on Sundays and he would always get me up and pray with me before I hit the road. And those prayers would get emotional, he would sometimes cry and I would sometimes try(unsuccessfully)my best not to cry.
Larry throughout his life was a hard worker. Despite anything anyone could have said about him the one thing you could never accuse him of was being lazy. Even when he got the cancer diagnosis he still continued to get up and go to work. Driving for Lyft, cutting grass, working at the church.
Larry was a man who cared for and loved his family. He loved his children. He loved our parents, his brothers, cousins, aunts,uncles, nieces and nephews.
Larry was a man that was loved by and inspired many people. We can tell that by how many are here today to pay respects. There are people, young people, that knew him from work, that have reached out after his passing. Watching his life up close and from a distance I can tell you he personally inspired me. Through all his struggles especially near the end of his life, when he suffered the most he stood strong in his faith.
For me as for the rest of the family, Larry’s diagnosis of cancer and subsequent death was painful and traumatic. It was especially hard in his final week and days as he was going back and forth to the hospital because of unmanageable pain. The last time me, Michael and Ernest saw him he was in near constant pain and even said that he didn’t want to go on like that. Watching that kind of suffering in someone you love and not being able to do anything at all about it leaves you helpless and searching for some kind of meaning. I don’t know if I’ve any “meaning” in his passing but throughout this entire ordeal my brother taught me two very important lessons.
The first of these is that your faith and reliance on God is the rock that will carry you through troubled times. We live in a world where both good and evil reside side by side. Sometimes good things happen for people that we in the flesh label “bad” and sometimes terrible things happen to good people who didn’t do a thing to deserve it and this is exactly how I felt about Larry’s cancer diagnosis. God never promised us a life free from pain or suffering. God has however provided a way to endure, to carry on and to preserve. Larry personified faithfulness in the Lord. I looked through some old text messages I sent him . On December 15th a shot him a text. I said “You’re more a man of faith than I am. Do you believe God will heal you from this? He wrote back “ In the end God will get the Glory!” My brother didn’t play at being a man of God, he lived it fully. I remember talking to the chaplain at the hospice and he told me that Larry absolutely knew he had a home that he was going to when his life was over. So because of the example my brother set for me in death as he did in life, I’m going to rely on the Lord God for strength and healing during this very difficult time.
The second life lesson I learned from Larry, and it’s a lesson I have to keep relearning, Is that we have to appreciate and love our family while we are still here despite our tendency to fight with each other. Now make no mistake about it my brother was a good man but my brother had a temper. As my brother Michael would say, he had his daddy in him. The other night Michael talked about the time when him and Larry had a falling out. Michael ended up in Texas staying with his son Courtney for a while. Michael told me that after all that fussing and fighting Larry called him to make sure he got there okay and he kept on calling him to make sure he was okay. That just how Larry was, that temper may fly and he may say or do some mean stuff( and us in kind) but end the end he loved us. He loved his family and he was always there for them in the end. Years ago we lost our oldest brother to lymphoma, I remember sitting with Larry in my momma’s living room and I remember we were talking about junior. I remember him saying “I’m going to remember June Brown for the rest of my life.” Well I and all us gathered here are going to likewise remember you for the rest of our lives too. Rest In Peace big brother, until we meet again.