The Story of Larry
And the beginning was not always so pleasant. When Larry was born, my parents were told to walk away from the hospital without him and go about their life. They heard cryptic words like mongoloid, retarded, untrainable, freak, and institution. Leaving him was not an option to them, however. Dad told me that when the doctors suggested they put Larry in an institution, Dad and Mom nodded to each other and Dad simply stated “we are taking our son home. . . now!” And they did. We siblings never thought of Larry as different, especially me. He was happy, and adorably cute until he got into my ʻstuffʼ and did what every other instigative child would do. He got into everything that, as a teenager, I held sacred. Totally normal as far as I was concerned. I had to put a lock on my bedroom door.
I was unaware how difficult it was for my parents, however, to get Larry an education because of his diagnosis of Down Syndrome. I never realized what they endured, the commitment they made, and the belief that they had that Larry was capable of achieving a level that all parents expect of their children. To the surprise of many, except our family, Larry graduated from high school, then took classes at community college to study sign language and culinary arts.
I now see clearly that Mom and Dad had a plan. If Larry could at least learn how to prepare simple meals, for example, then he could be semi-independent, and that was the reason for the culinary art classes. The sign language courses? Strictly Larryʼs choice. He said he wanted to learn how to help others who were deaf. . .
Larry was employed at various jobs, mostly at grocery stores, and became quite popular amongst the clientele because of his great social skills and his genuine love for one another. Mom and Dad were elated with this stable life he had, and they believed this could last forever.
This was, however, not possible, as reality set in and they needed to accept that if something happened to them, Larry would need a place to live. They never wanted Larryʼs siblings to be ʻburdenedʼ and so they kept this struggle silent to all of us until Mom finally shared with me that they were looking for ʻa homeʼ. This occurred when Larry was 41 years old. Very established, very happy, very comfortable with the life with Mom and Dad. It could not, however, last forever, but the greatest obstacle was that my parents had to let go of their Larry and find something that would live up to the standards that would suffice for their special son.
After many long and emotionally draining episodes, Mom and Dad discovered Angels’ Place. Mom was the biggest skeptic, and true to the definition of “mom”, refused to sever the apron strings without a struggle. I remember Mom telling me that “there is nothing out there, nothing, nothing . . . but there IS one place called Angels’ Place and they said he could try independent living with four other guys.” She said he was going there on a ʻtrial basisʼ for the weekend. I will never forget how much she cried when they left him there and returned home. Larry had no qualms, however, and shared with me that ʻthe guys were cool.” Poor Mom. This was the beginning of the cut apron strings and it was breaking her heart but yet, it was giving Larry his independence for the first time in his life. Very frightening, yet very exciting.
Angels’ Place provided Larry everything and then some. He stayed at the Chelton home for almost 6 years, living with those cool guys and enjoying a state of independence. Not bad for someone who was supposed to be institutionalized! And then things changed. Mom died. March 2012. Larryʼs world changed. Dadʼs world changed. Heck, we all changed. And Dad developed dementia, and Larry did too. Something about post traumatic shock. Mom was the stable factor of both of their lives, and now I was thrown into a situation of “what do I do.” I had Dad and Larry to care for and I was lost and wanted to go hide somewhere and let someone else handle this.
Shortly following Momʼs death, there was a phone call from Angels’ Place that said that they noticed Larry needed more care, that his mental and physical conditions had changed, and that they were tremendously concerned about him. They wanted to help Larry and also the family. They recognized that something needed to be done in a timely fashion. I was still numb and didn’t have the answers.
Angels’ Place did have the answers. They provided a transfer to another Angels’ Place home for Larry that supplied continuous care that he desperately needed. After a short transition, Larry seems to have adjusted well.
How do I know that? Well, Dad passed away suddenly on January 21, 2014. Telling Larry that his other ʻrockʼ was gone was heartbreaking. He was devastated. I took Larry home with me, not knowing when I would take him back to the Linwood home. I thought he only wanted the comfort of ʻbig sister,ʼ and I was prepared to keep him with me until whenever. The afternoon following my dadʼs funeral however, Larry told me he wanted to return to the Linwood home, telling me he missed the guys and the staff. He also added as he patted my hand affectionately, that he did not want to hurt my feelings and if I wanted him to stay with me for comfort, he would understand. Oh, my heart sang out in joy that he was comfortable with the Linwood home, enough to want to go there at this time. I felt that I could ʻlet goʼ a bit, that I could continue with my life and not worry about Larry and his well-being.
I have a life. I am of retirement age. My husband and I each have health issues that are not uncommon of folks of our ages. We have found that Michigan weather is not kind to our bodies (especially this winter) and we may become snowbirds in the near future. I truly feel we can do this. Angels’ Place has allowed me to believe this can be done because they have provided for Larry the home that my mom and dad believed would be there when they are no longer there to care for him. And the wish my mom had that none of the siblings would be burdened has been granted because of Angels’ Place.
I love Larry beyond measure and I will never abandon him or not ʻbe thereʼ for him; however, I know that I also must take care of me and the other members of my family, too. Angels’ Place gives me that comfort, that feeling that I can move forward without any guilt of leaving Larry with someone else to ʻtake careʼ of him. I know that the level of care at the Linwood home is outstanding. The staff proved it by providing the nurturing and care at the time when Larry needed it the most.
In conclusion, I truly believe that without Angels’ Place, we as a family, would be lost. Larry would be ʻsomewhere else,ʼ not so pretty, not so tailored to HIS needs and this would be so very hard on me, and on our family. I cannot put into words how worried I was as to what would happen to Larry when my parents were gone and now if I am gone; now I am so relieved to know: Larry has a home, now and forever, with the promise from Angels’ Place that life WILL go on, and that they will be there for him, and for all of their Angels’ Place family, as long as the need is there.
May God bless Angels’ Place, all of their beautiful residents, and their wonderful staff. I am and always will be humbly grateful.
P.S. One thing….in true Larry fashion, especially those who know his passion to the old TV favorites, he shared with me that one other reason he wanted to return to Linwood that afternoon was that I had no cable TV and my TV was ʻboringʼ . . . no offense taken . . .