I had not intended this for publication but a recent attempt by criminals to subject one of my computers to ransomware has caused me to publish this to give it “internet immortality”. These are facts about my son Larry that I wrote down in the days, weeks and months after his death on May 19, 2013 as an aid to my memory as the years rolled by. The list is given as written with no attempts to edit, especially in regard to facts which may be repeated.
Not for publication, but to preserve in Don’s memory facts about his son Larry.
Facts about Larry McClarey:
1. He cried when he was baptized which Father Iserman advised his parents indicated, according to the Poles, that he would have a long life. (The crying was probably because he had a poopie diaper.)
2. Larry was the first of the boys to get out of the crib, by leaning over the top of the crib and doing a slow motion fall.
3. Before he could walk Larry would “porpoise” on his back across the floor.
4. The first word Larry spoke was “Ozmobile” in reference to our green focus wagon. The first phrase he spoke was “Great Dinosaur Atlas” one of his favorite books.
5. Larry loved the book Animals in Winter to be read to him as a toddler.
6. The first book Larry read by himself by sounding out words was a story in the phonics book, A Pig Can Jig, Wag the Dog. Larry was tickled by Wag. that bad dog.
7. Larry was a slow talker due to his autism, and learning to read actually helped Larry become a more voluble speaker.
8. Larry as a youngster had a lovely singing voice and could sing more clearly, and readily, than he could talk. The desire to sing deserted him as he entered puberty.
9. Larry would kick off his shoes on the stairs leading down to the basement, allowing them to fall where they would. His Dad constantly had him pick up his shoes. His Dad wishes, with all his heart, that he could hear the clattering of Larry’s shoes just one more time.
10. Larry early appreciated music, especially anything with a strong rhythm. He loved the score of Evita, a favorite of his parents, his entire life. He was terrified of the bowflex commercial as a youngster, perhaps because of the deep voice of the announcer. Larry was scared of the deep voice of Darth Vader as a youngster.
11. Larry loved Civil War music.
12. When he was picked up by Mom at school, Larry would pick out a CD he wanted to listen to.
13. Larry would go out to cars owned by the family to get CDs. He was seen occasionally going into neighbors’ cars, doubtless to listen to their CDs, as was brought to his parent’s attention by DCFS on one occasion!
14. One of Larry’s jobs was to take out the kitchen trash to the garbage cans. He would often play in the garage after he did this.
15. As the boys were beginning to be potty-trained Larry, for some reason, would remove Donnie’s diaper.
16. Larry would often snicker when he thought either his brother or sister were in trouble.
17. Larry was initially afraid of the family dog Baby, although he got used to her as the years passed. His attitude may have been colored by the family dog Josie when he was a small boy. Josie was getting elderly and somewhat cranky, dying in 2000, and Larry was not used to a playful young dog. He could be coaxed to pet her. In later years he would throw food on the floor when he was eating to share with Baby when she attempted to mooch food from him.
18. Larry loved to swim and to dive into pools. From his earliest days he was fascinated by water.
19. At one and a half, in May of 1993, after having been to Renfrew Park with his Mom in the morning, Larry decided to walk to the park by himself in the early afternoon. After some frantic moments, a policeman returned Larry, asking Mom, “Is this your son?”
20. Larry was allergic to soy formula, along with his brother, as we found out in a night called in McClary Family Annals, “The Night of the Living Formula!”
21. When his Mom was pregnant with his sister, Larry and his brother decided to engage in painting the door of their room with their poop, much to the distress of Mom!
22. Shortly before Mom gave birth to his sister in February of 1995, Larry and his brother took shrimp cocktail sauce, and spread it around their rocking horse in the front room in a circle and danced around it. Red cocktail sauce on green carpet! Dad had Mom take the boys upstairs when discovered, because Dad didn’t trust himself to discipline them at the moment, and Dad cleaned up the cocktail sauce, which left an imprint for some years.
23. Larry loved the two rocking horses the family had consecutively in the front room, and would rock with wild enthusiasm.
24. Larry loved Star Wars. In his last year he often was highly amused by a Darth Vader plush toy that uttered some of Darth Vader’s catchword phrases.
25. On outings Larry would tend to walk on his Dad’s right hand and sit beside him in restaurants. Larry was always a Daddy’s boy.
26. On his first birthday Larry and his brother burst into tears when a mariachi band at a Chi-Chi’s, a sadly no longer in business Mexican restaurant chain, gave them a surprising, rousing and loud rendition of Happy Birthday!
27. Larry was an extremely health eater: he liked most types of fresh fruit and would often crave pineapples, oranges, apples, watermelon, etc.
28. Larrry throughout his life had a good appetite and ate heartily, but was always thin. Probably attributable to the fact that he was usually in motion, being a very active boy and young man.
29. Autistic individuals sometimes are described as emotionless. That was not Larry. He usually wore his heart on his sleeve. He was usually happy, but he could be sad or mad also. When asked he would describe what he was feeling, usually in one or two words.
30. Larry loved the bullfight game that Dad would play with the kids where Dad was the bull and the kids were matadors.
31. One Saturday when Larry was in grade school he disappeared and we had half the town looking for him. He eventually showed back up at the house, filthy, with a smile on his face. I suspect that he had hid under a neighbor’s porch.
32. Dad could coax Larry to pet Baby, the family dog, but Larry was never certain that he wanted to!
33. Mom often used a formula that Larry would say at the beginning of his prayers: God bless Mommy and Daddy and Donnie and Mary and Josie (the family dog) Woof!
34. Larry had a good memory and memorized several prayers including the Our Father, Hail Mary, the Act of Contrition and the Prayer to Saint Michael.
35. It was a struggle getting the parish to allow Larry to continue to participate in CCD after his First Communion. His Mom would take Larry over to CCD, work with him near the main classroom and Larry would join the class for snacks and over group activities.
36. Larry had a great love of condiments and usually would form puddles of catsup, mustard and barbecue sauce on his plate and dip his food into the condiments.
37. If Larry really liked what he was eating he would close his eyes as he savored each bite.
38. Larry loved being shaved by his Dad. His Dad would allow to start the process and when he was ready to help he would stand by the downstairs bathroom door looking for Dad. Mom would then generally say, “Dear, Larry is looking for you.” and then Dad would help Larry complete his shaving. Dad when he was shaving Larry would sometimes ask him if he liked being shaved and Larry always said yes.
39. In summer Larry loved swimming in the back yard pool. He would also set up a sprinkler to have water falling on him from the sprinkler.
40. Larry and Dad one summer played a game in the pool where Dad would stand behind him, say “One for the Money, Two for the Show, Three to get Ready and Four to Go!, and then shove him into the water. Larry loved it and often would request it with the query, “One for the money?”
41. Larry would often adopt a crouching position in a pool for several minutes. He would then suddenly leap into the air and come crashing down into the water.
42. Larry often made ice cream snacks for himself in the kitchen after everyone else went to bed. His Dad could never train him to return the ice cream to the freezer!
43. While listening to music he enjoyed in the car, Larry would rock his head back and forth.
44. As a young boy, if Larry thought we were going the wrong way to a destination he would point and say “This way! This way!”
45. Larry would sometimes get into his sister’s room and destroy her head phones, much to her distress! Dad doubts that he did it deliberately, but he was fascinated by head phones and would often pick apart the padding.
46. Larry would carry the book bag for his Dad at book sales. He always was quite patient when doing so even when the bag was filled with books and was quite heavy. He did this on May 3, 2013 in Bloomington, Illinois, the last of the book sales that he would ever attend with Mom and Dad. His help at that book sale is now an especially cherished memory for his Dad. After that sale Mom, Dad and Larry went to Steak and Shake, always a favorite fast food place for Larry.
47. When Larry was at his Dad’s office he would sit on the floor by Mom’s desk.
48. After the birth of Larry and his brother the secretaries at his Dad’s office made up a letterhead which read “Strufe & McClarey and the Twins!”
49. Larry loved beef jerkey.
50. When he was at a Tiger Cub fishing event when he was in kindergarten Larry ran into Lion’s Lake in March! Larry loved the lake and he and his family had many meals there over the years, walking around the lake. When he was a small boy his Dad occasionally fished at the Lake, although he never caught any. Despite the fishless aspect of the outings, Larry and the rest of the family enjoyed them.
51. Larry would love to splash in rain puddles. When it snowed, Larry loved to plow through deep drifts.
52. Larry was always very good and patient when visiting the Dentist. Dr. Struck had been Larry’s only dentist and he trusted her. We had Larry’s wisdom teeth removed by an oral surgeon in October of 2012. He bore the procedure with quite a bit of grace and stoicism. Larry had a fair amount of courage and dignity.
53. When Larry was little he was quite fond of Thomas the Tank Engine. He would watch the videos frequently and his Mom and Dad purchased Thomas the Tank Engine figures and toys for him.
54. At Mass Larry never missed an opportunity to dip his hand in holy water or squirt water into his hands from the Holy water dispenser.
55. After he received communion Larry would often do a half dance turn as he headed back to the pew.
56. Larry love jello.
57. After Mass, as everyone else went through the front door of the house, Larry would circle around to the back door.
58. Larry, when drinking pop, loved to fill his glass up to the brim.
59. Larry would often choose oddly shaped containers to drink milk from.
60. Larry would invariably wear different colored gloves. He also liked gloves with the ends of the fingers out.
61. Larry would sometimes cease to move. Dad referred to this as a statue pose by Larry. Larry would move when Dad told him to move, but he was resistant to moving for anyone else. In his last year in school, both Mom and his teachers would use cell phones to call Dad to tell Larry to move. Sometimes just the sight of the cell phone would get Larry moving!
62. Larry liked Kool-Aid and could make his Kool-Aid himself.
63. Larry had very thick, curly hair. His last haircut that he had, along with his brother, was on May 18, 2013, the day before his death.
64. When he was a small boy Larry would bathe with a yellow rubber duck in the bath tub.
65. Larry as he grew older loved long, hot showers. When he was small both he and his brother were initially terrified of the shower.
66. Larry was very self-sufficient around the house in many ways. Each day he would bathe himself and wash his hair. Dad normally flossed his teeth as Larry never got into the habit of doing so himself. He bore Dad’s flossing with the patience that he so often demonstrated.
67. His Dad always took fiendish delight in spraying Larry and his brother and sister with a hose when they were in the backyard pool on hot summer days.
68. When the pool was being set up each year Larry would often bring the hose out of the garage for his Dad.
69. Larry enjoyed being tickled when he was a youngster.
70. Larry sometimes put water into waste paper baskets. The fascination with water struck again!
71. Larry would put down strips of toilet paper around toilets. His Dad ultimately gave up trying to break him from this habit.
72. Larry was fascinated by Batman.
73. Larry usually slept on his stomach, wrapped in a blanket.
74. Larry used the same belt for years, that he was quite fond of. His Dad was thinking of replacing it, because about half of it had split in two, shortly before Larry’s death.
75. When agitated Larry would cover his ears with his hands. His non-autistic siblings have the same habit.
76. Larry had several books on the Simpsons’ cartoon show for many years which he loved to look at, usually lying on top of a ball on the floor that he created from his blankets, with the books spread open and in a line before him.
77. Larry loved eating popcorn which he made in the microwave.
78. When Larry was a freshman in high school he had a case of blood infection, mirsa. The infection required minor surgery to remove a cyst caused by the infection on his back and a stay of three days in the hospital in Pontiac. Larry’s Dad stayed overnight with him, while his Mom stayed with him during the day. Larry was quite good and patient during his stay in the hospital. It was the only time during his life when he was hospitalized not counting the three days he and his brother were in the same hospital following their birth. Larry enjoyed good health throughout his life, other than the seizures he began to have at puberty.
79. Larry would often make ice cream treats for himself after everyone else was in bed. Alas, he would rarely return the ice cream to the refrigerator freezer after he had finished!
80. At the dentist’s office, his Dad would often take him to a park located diagonally from the dentist’s office to play after Larry had been examined by the dentist while the other members of the family saw the dentist.
81. Larry was very agile though out his life. It was a joy to view him playing on playground equipment in his younger days.
82. Larry when he bathed liked to fill the tub up to the brim, but he never allowed the water to overflow.
83. Larry liked to stand on pew kneelers at Church during Mass when it was time to stand.
84. At Mass Larry would often say “First its bread, now its Jesus”, and “First its wine, now its Jesus”, as his Mom taught all three of the kids to say.
85. When they were very young, Larry, his brother and his sister loved all getting in a tire swing together at Renfrew Park. Dad would then twist the swing around pretending it was a space ship.
86. The names of Larry, his brother and his sister are inscribed on a brick outside the old courthouse in Pontiac, Illinois, near the statue of Abraham Lincoln.
87. Larry became adept at using computers to watch movie DVDs. He would often repeat favored scenes from movies over and over again.
88. As a youngster Larry loved bouncing on Mom and Dad’s bed, so much so that he broke one of the legs of the bed!
89. Larry loved taking apart small machines like remote controls to see how they functioned. Alas, he was sometimes not equally adept at putting them back together!
90. Larry and his Mom would often play a game of “tag” that Larry enjoyed.
91. Larry was always lean. Fully grown he was over six feet but weighed only 136 pounds. There was never an ounce of fat on him, although he normally had a good appetite at meals and frequently snacked.
92. Larry would often have often have some of his DVDs and VCR tapes scattered on the room of his floor near his television in his room. When requested he would pick these up, but his Dad now wonders if the patterns these made on the floor, not discernible to him, had meaning for Larry.
93. When requested Larry would put up his clean laundry, although he often preferred it to accumulate on his chest of drawers until his Dad requested that he put it up. (In many ways Larry was a typical kid!)
94. Larry’s special task in helping with laundry was to fold towels and face cloths.
95. When the family would go to movies, Larry was always quite attentive to the films, and loved drinking pop, and eating popcorn and candy while watching the movies. He would usually help himself to some of his Dad’s pop once he finished his. His Dad never minded.
96. When Larry was in elementary school his Dad had to demonstrate on three separate occasions at IEPs, in three separate school years, that Larry could read to school officials. This was accomplished by having Larry brought from his class and having him read. His Dad assumed that the school officials had decided that Larry was unable to read and were surprised when they were shown that he could. Eventually the school he attended became convinced that Larry could, indeed, read.
97. In his final year Larry’s reading had progressed to the point where he was reading largely on his own during Daddy reading without Dad having to repeat what Larry had said, or to guide his right index finger over each word as Larry read the word. Larry was increasing in speed also. His Dad misses very much the Daddy readings, as he misses everything pertaining to Larry.
98. His Dad was in the habit of purchasing movies that he thought Larry would enjoy with both Blu-ray and DVD copies. He would give Larry the DVD copy to run on his VCR-DVD player in his bedroom.
99. Larry greatly enjoyed riding the rides on the annual family summer vacation visits to Six Flags. His Dad regrets now that the family stopped going in 2011, largely because Larry’s siblings were no longer interested in Six Flags. The first visit to Six Flags was in 1999.
100. Larry also enjoyed the annual summer vacation visits to Brookfield Zoo. The first one was in 1998. Those visits continued through the remainder of Larry’s life. The family also attended the Milwaukee Zoo in August when visiting Larry’s maternal grandmother in Kenosha. The visits began in 2003 and continued for the remainder of Larry’s life.
101. When our pet dog Baby would attempt to beg food from him while he ate, Larry was in the habit of putting a large amount of food on the floor so she would leave him alone.
102. Larry would hold his right hand up while saying the Saint Michael prayer, something his Dad taught him and his brother and sister to do.
103. At Mass, after they knelt down in their pew after arriving, his Dad would say “Hail Mary” and Larry would complete the prayer. After they got back to their pew and had knelt down after receiving communion his Dad would say to Larry “Our Father” and Larry would complete the prayer.
104. Larry, when he was younger, loved to swing on a swing set in our back yard that his grandfather put up in 1993. The two swings were shaped like rocket ships. The swing set remained in the back yard until 2005. Larry would sometimes try to get into the swing even after he had outgrown it.
105. Larry when drinking pop from a can would fill up a glass with ice cubes, pour in the pop to the brim of the glass, and then empty any remaining pop in the can into the sink.
106. Larry would often wipe his fingers on his chair and get it dirty. His Dad cleaned the chair shortly before Larry’s death. His Dad wishes he had to clean it now as a result of Larry getting it dirty.
107. Larry loved eating steak at Rotary steak fries. His Dad, who does not like steak, would give him his steak. Usually kids were served hot dogs at the steak fries.
108. When Larry was reading and his words were not clear his Dad would tell him to “Use your lips” and Larry would say his words clearer using his lips.
109. If Larry was in a location familiar to him, and he knew he could, he would take off his shoes.
110. Larry enjoyed a CD of Russian music that his Dad had made from music in the game by AGEOD, Revolution.
111. Larry enjoyed eating pop-cycles in very hot weather.
112. Larry enjoyed playing in leaf piles with his brother and sister in his younger days.
113. Larry in his youngest days would line toys up in a line. This is normally thought of as a sign of autism. He did not do this in his later years, but like his non-autistic brother he had outgrown playing with toys as he entered his teen years.
114. At the funeral of his maternal grandfather in March of 1997 Larry was quite upset and would not go up to the casket to view the body. This was understandable in that Larry was only five at the time. His Dad suspects that his grandfather was among Larry’s deceased relatives who welcomed Larry into the world to come on May 19, 2013.
115. Whenever the family came back from a vacation, Larry always took it upon himself to unpack the luggage, much to his Dad’s delight.
116. In 2003 Larry and his brother and sister rode on a camel together at the Milwaukee Zoo. A photograph of this event is a treasured keepsake of his parents.
117. Larry liked to make popcorn in the microwave, although he would occasionally burn it.
118. Larry had a wooden train set as a youngster and would spend hours playing with it.
119. Larry and his brother and sister would go on a tour of the Jelly Belly factory each summer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The tradition began when they were taken by their grandmother on the tour circa 1997. The tradition ended with his death in 2013. Larry always enjoyed the tours and the Jelly Belly candies purchased after the tours.
120. Larry loved ball pits when he was a small boy. His parents have a picture of him buried in a ball pit with only his head showing.
121. Larry was interested in wind chimes. Several times his Dad asked him if he wanted his Dad to purchase wind chimes for him, but each time Larry would say no, even though he clearly was intrigued by them. On September 5, 2013, his 22nd birthday, his parents will mount wind chimes at his grave.
122. When Larry was a youngster he loved playing in a sand box made by his grandfather.
123. When Larry was a young boy he was quite fond of the Thomas the Tank Engine Cartoon Show, as did his brother and sister. He took relish in saying the name of the character Digger the Dozer.
124. On the other hand Larry was afraid of the episode which featured Daisy the Diesel, no doubt due to her theme which featured a burlesque like bump and grind jazz riff. Larry when he was younger was afraid of music with strong rhythms and low registers, due to his sensitivity to sound.
125. A Waldens Book Store in the Fox Valley Mall had a Thomas the Tank Engine railroad table set up that Larry loved to play with when he was young. Not coincidentally, they also had a large display of metal and wooden Thomas the Tank Engine figures and his parents would usually purchase one, which he would pick out, during each visit to this store.
126. When Larry and his brother were infants, their parents would usually have large bottles of milk attached with cords to their car seats for them to suck on during road trips. One time Larry’s parents found that Larry had discovered an old bottle that had been accidentally left in the car, and was enthusiastically sucking on that bottle even though the milk had soured and curdled!
127. Although Larry was quite self sufficient when it came to taking a daily bath, there were other matters of personal care that he was not interested in. For example, he would not brush his hair. His Dad would brush his hair for outings. Although his Dad found the task sometimes annoying, Larry’s hair always looked nice when it was brushed. His Dad wishes he could be “annoyed” with brushing Larry’s hair just one more time.
128. In regard to baths, when Larry and his brother were quite young they took baths together. This was usually a time of high amusement for both of them.
129. After his brother grew too old to take his bath with Larry, his Dad still gave Larry his bath, until Larry decided, when he was still a small boy, that he did not need help taking his bath, which was a proud day for both Larry and his Dad.
130. Dad would often floss Larry’s teeth. Larry was quite patient during this process.
131. Today, September 5, 2013, is the 22 birthday of Larry. His Mom and Dad placed wind chimes out by his grave. They celebrated Donnie’s birthday on Sunday while he was home for the Labor Day holiday. When he blew out the candles he wished his twin a happy birthday. That warmed the hearts of both his Mom and Dad.
132. When Larry and his brother were little, they would sometimes fall asleep on the living room floor. Their Dad would then take them upstairs to their room, one sleeping toddler tucked under each arm.
133. When Larry was very angry he would go into his parent’s room and toss about documents that his parents had in a folder. These documents were now without much significance, but Larry attempted to do this just a month or two before his death, just as he had when he was a small boy. His Dad, who stopped him, was more amused than annoyed. His Dad wishes with all his heart that he could experience such amusement with Larry again.
134. When his family was going some place, Larry would sometimes go to the car before everyone else, buckle himself in, and patiently wait for the rest of the family to come out to the car.
135. There is a picture in his Mom’s office of Larry kneeling on one knee, on green grass and dandelions, squinting at the sun. His Dad believes that picture captures Larry’s spirit well.
136. Larry was quite agile and in his younger days often loved to climb over play ground equipment, never losing his balance.
137. Larry could be fairly casual about emerging naked from the bathroom after a bath. His Dad usually had clothes for him to change into in the bathroom. When this had not occurred Larry would streak from the bathroom to his bedroom. Fortunately his bedroom was across the hallway from the bathroom!
138. Larry was quite good at memorizing prayers, usually saying them quite rapidly. After communion his Dad would begin “Our Father” and Larry would recite the remainder of the prayer. His Dad recalls this now whenever he takes communion.
139. Larry enjoyed visits to zoos, especially when animals could be observed who lived in water. He enjoyed an exhibit of otters at the Bloomington zoo. He visited that zoo on the Tuesday before his death with his class. His brother, home from college, went along as a chaperone. Pictures were taken of that outing showing Larry and his brother together. These are now precious heirlooms of the McClarey family.
140. Larry always seemed to know the date and would change the calendars around the house each month without being asked.