I met Larry in 1951 when we both were doing on the job training in the hospitality industry We were student workers, washing pots and pans in the kitchen at Campbell Resident Hall for women at Michigan State University. We have remained good friends ever since. His accomplishments in athletics and his professional service to our community are well known. What may not be so well known is what I want to speak about today.
Larry’s non legal vocabulary included four unique declarations; “torqued my jaws”, “going sideways”, Bingo, and Razzel Frats. I am able to spell the first three, but not Razzel Frats. It might be two words. I think it has 11 letters. He used it often on the golf course after an errant shot. After a pause, in which I assume a 4 letter word probably crossed his mind he declared the 11 letter Razzel Frats.
His optimistic perspective was that he never said anything was going bad or down hill. He saw what otherwise was not optimistic with the statement “maybe this thing will go sideways.” That was even his outlook when facing certain death with metastatic malignant melanoma. I knew the probable outcome, but his view making future decisions was “if this thing goes sideways”.
His expression for something or some one who really did him wrong was to state that it or they really “torqued my jaws”. This was another polite expression for what many of us would use more colorful language.
So most of us who knew Larry heard these expressions, but maybe we did not fully understand his world view. He was not religious. He told me his paternal grandparents were very religious; never missed church or a prayer meeting. His maternal side of the family was not, according to Larry. However, Larry did live by certain Biblical principles. When asked about his religious perspectives he emphatically stated he lived by the Golden Rule. End of discussion. For completeness, the Biblical reference is found in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. Everyone who knows him or has had any dealings with him knows that his actions confirmed that belief. He knew the reference was Biblical, but formal religion did not appeal to him. This is not too unusual, since organized religion has it flaws.
However, Larry is more spiritual than you might think. Perhaps you noticed I have been using the presence tense. Let me explain. My perspective is that we as people live temporarily in an earth suit, our body. Common thinking is to see the earth suit as synonymous with the person. That is not so. We the people live inside this temporary housing. As a medical doctor let me say there is very good scientific evidence that the earth suit is temporary housing. Larry exists in our hearts and minds but he still exists, absent this earth suit.
I have been privileged to many spiritual discussions with Larry, short as they may have been. He related once in a retort that the One True God spoke a prophetic word to him about something only God could know. He elaborated so as to convince me. So he was not unfamiliar with God. He knew for certain the source of that message. He knew it was spiritual, not mental or physical. The message was confirmed as true, so it was not a lying, unholy spirit. He knew it was the Holy Spirit of God.
In recent days he had reason to invite the Holy Spirit to take residence in his Life. He embraced the Love of God, by acknowledging out loud that Jesus Christ is who he said he is and there was salvation in no other name in heaven and earth. At that moment he said the Holy Spirit was not just the one who sent him a prophetic message many years ago, but now a person who took residence with his very being. This is known as a born again experience. Kind of interesting to have a birth experience so close to physical death. His birth experience was spiritual, not physical.
I have never witnessed someone so at peace with their circumstances. He did not say “this torques my jaws”. I did not hear “razzle frats”. I did hear in his last days here on earth, “this thing might be going sideways”.
So let me say that Larry exists not only in our memory, or better yet in our hearts and minds, but he lives today. Something really good has happened. The Lord God of this universe became a tangible reality to him in the person of Jesus and the Holy Spirit…..and as Larry would say ….. BINGO.