This is the third and final part of a series about Larry, who was forty years old when he enrolled in hospice with end-stage cirrhosis of the liver. In part one, “The House of the Rising Sun”, Larry shared, “I started drinking when I was fourteen. I was a shy person, but when I drank I came out of it. It was ‘liquid courage’…I just want to tell others not to go down the same road I went down. Be your own person; but make wise decisions. Don’t try to be somebody you’re not just to fit in.” In part two “A Broken and Contrite Spirit”, we explored the difference between “the sorrow of the world” and “Godly sorrow”, which “…produces repentance leading to salvation,” (2 Corinthians 7:10). We witnessed Larry’s broken and contrite spirit about which the Bible proclaims, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite (penitent, remorseful, humble) spirit,” (Psalm 34:18).
Larry reflected, “I was the black sheep of the family. I even had a T-shirt and a hat made up with ‘The Black Sheep’ on them.” Larry’s mother, Debbie, stated, “He was the black sheep because he was the one who would tell the rest of the family what he thought.” Debbie stated that Larry was also an agitator, “He and his grandpa were really close. Larry loved my father and they liked watching wrestling on TV together. Larry would tell him it was fake, just to get him all riled up. And his grandpa was a preacher so Larry would say things he knew weren’t true about the Bible to get dad all worked up, and dad did.”
As Larry’s cirrhosis progressed he needed more and more care which his mother provided. The first time I met Larry and Debbie I was impressed with her tender affection towards Larry. But I guess that even at age forty, a son is still a mother’s “little boy”, and a daughter, still her father’s “little girl”. Larry started having difficulty swallowing, so Debbie crushed up his medications and coaxed him to take it. Larry grinned and said, “When I take my medications mom tells me ‘Good boy!’ like I’m a beagle.” I told Larry, “That’s just the way it is when someone cares about you and you are sick.” I admitted that when I once told my sweet, soft-spoken, frail mother-in-law what she “needed” to do, she told me in no uncertain terms, “Don’t be making any goals for my life.” I suggested he use my mother-in-law’s line on his mother. Both he and Debbie just grinned.
Larry said, “It’s good to have someone to talk to about things that I don’t even want to talk to mom about,” and then he confided, “I haven’t told anybody about it yet, but I just feel like God is telling me to just trust Him; that everything is going to be alright. I’m afraid to tell anybody, because I don’t want them to think I’m crazy.” I assured Larry that he wasn’t “crazy”; that God frequently speaks to us in a “still small voice,” (I Kings 19:12).
Well, Larry died a couple of weeks ago and I visited his mother afterward to deliver several Xeroxed copies of part one of this series. Debbie told me, “A couple days before Larry died he had a dream about his grandpa; that his grandpa came to him and told him, ‘Don’t worry Larry, everything is going to be alright. Me and Star (Larry’s deceased sister), are coming for you soon.’” Two days later Larry died in our hospice center.
Larry’s experiences remind me of what Jesus told his disciples before He was crucified. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:1-3); or in Larry’s words, “…just trust Him, everything is going to be alright.”
In times of changing weather, when waves of uncertainty and fear break over us, sometimes nothing but His “still small voice” can calm the storms inside. I believe that God wants to engage us in a divine dialogue. Are you listening? Do you hear Him?
Loren Hardin is a social worker with Southern Ohio Medical Center-Hospice, and can be reached at 740-356-2525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s new book, “Straight Paths,” online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.