12

Lawrence Charles McClarey: In Memoriam

Larry McClarey

Lawrence Charles McClarey

Birth:  September 5, 1991

(Feast day of Saint Lawrence Justinian)

Death:  May 19, 2013

(Pentecost)

[53] For this corruptible must put on incorruption; and this mortal must put on immortality. [54] And when this mortal hath put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?

1 Corinthians 15:  53-55

 

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2

Pentecost and Renewal

 

So ever the king had a custom that at the feast of Pentecost in especial, afore other feasts in the year, he would not go that day to meat until he had heard or seen of a great marvel.

 

When my children were small as the family drove to Mass, I offered the kids a dollar for the first one to sight the Questing Beast, tying the Arthurian legend with the great feast.  When my son died on Pentecost four years ago, the bright spot on that bleak Pentecost was when my bride gave voice to a thought that had occurred to me:  Larry has gone after the Questing Beast.

The birthday of the Church, inaugurated with the great miracles of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire underlining the universal nature of the mission of the Church, at Pentecost has always reminded me that since the coming of Christ we live in an age of miracles, if we only have the wit and the faith to see them.  I know this from personal experience:   since the death of Larry I have received a small miracle to assure me of his love from the other side.

We live in a time in the West of great cultural pessimism and spiritual sickness that has infected the Church.  We forget that over 2000 turbulent years Christ has never failed us and that we Christians should never give way to despair.  We do battle with Principalities and Powers, and not merely misguided or evil fellow men, and Christ is ever ready to aid us if we call on Him in humility and love.

The Holy Spirit, Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us, brings us renewal: Continue Reading

11

Larry and Ash Wednesday

ash_wednesday

(I will be reposting this each Ash Wednesday.)

My late son Larry always seemed to enjoy Ash Wednesday.  Four years ago in 2013 I went up with him to receive ashes.  He heard the traditional admonition:  “Remember man thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” and had the ashes placed on his forehead.  He then did the normal circle turn that he did after receiving Communion, and we went back to our pew.

Little did we know that this would be Larry’s last Ash Wednesday.  He died in the wee hours of Pentecost in 2013 of a seizure.  (On that dreadful date I said to my wife that one of the greatest gifts God has given us in this life is our inability to see the future.)  Now Larry’s physical body is well on its way back to dust, awaiting the Resurrection when it will be reunited with his soul.

Larry is now in the land which knows not Ash Wednesday, but only Eternal Easter, and we are left to experience this Ash Wednesday without him.  I have always found Ash Wednesday to be a bleak day and it will be much bleaker yet without my son.  However, Ash Wednesday, like death, is not the end, but merely a beginning.  As Ash Wednesday is the portal to Easter, death is the portal to eternal life.  Continue Reading

10

Things that Bring Tears to My Eyes: A Continuing Series

Remembering my son Larry, this choked me up:

Michelle Malkin tweeted this story out earlier and I have to say it really is the best thing I’ve read all day. Maybe you’ve seen the photo already but what’s important is the story behind it.

FSU large

Florida State University football players visited a Middle School today. During lunch, wide receiver Travis Rudolph noticed one student, Bo Paske, who was sitting off on his own and decided to ask if he could join him. When a picture of the two sharing lunch made it back to Bo’s mother, Leah Paske, she posted it on Facebook and explained why it was such an emotional moment:

Several times lately I have tried to remember my time in middle school, did I like all my teachers, do I even remember them? Did I have many friends? Did I sit with anyone at lunch? Just how mean were kids really? I remember one kid on the bus called me “Tammy Fay Baker” bc I started awkwardly wearing eye liner in the sixth grade, I remember being tough and calling him a silly name back, but when he couldn’t see me anymore I cried. I do remember middle school being scary, and hard. Now that I have a child starting middle school, I have feelings of anxiety for him, and they can be overwhelming if I let them. Sometimes I’m grateful for his autism. That may sound like a terrible thing to say, but in some ways I think, I hope, it shields him. He doesn’t seem to notice when people stare at him when he flaps his hands. He doesn’t seem to notice that he doesn’t get invited to birthday parties anymore. And he doesn’t seem to mind if he eats lunch alone. It’s one of my daily questions for him. Was there a time today you felt sad? Who did you eat lunch with today? Sometimes the answer is a classmate, but most days it’s nobody. Those are the days I feel sad for him, but he doesn’t seem to mind. He is a super sweet child, who always has a smile and hug for everyone he meets. A friend of mine sent this beautiful picture to me today and when I saw it with the caption “Travis Rudolph is eating lunch with your son” I replied “who is that?” He said “FSU football player”, then I had tears streaming down my face. Travis Rudolph, a wide receiver at Florida State, and several other FSU players visited my sons school today. I’m not sure what exactly made this incredibly kind man share a lunch table with my son, but I’m happy to say that it will not soon be forgotten. This is one day I didn’t have to worry if my sweet boy ate lunch alone, because he sat across from someone who is a hero in many eyes. Travis Rudolph thank you so much, you made this momma exceedingly happy, and have made us fans for life! #travisrudolph #autismmom #fansforlife

I’ve read this three times now and it still gets me. Continue Reading

10

Larry and Ash Wednesday

ash_wednesday

(I will be reposting this each Ash Wednesday.)

My late son Larry always seemed to enjoy Ash Wednesday.  Three years ago in 2013 I went up with him to receive ashes.  He heard the traditional admonition:  “Remember man thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” and had the ashes placed on his forehead.  He then did the normal circle turn that he did after receiving Communion, and we went back to our pew.

Little did we know that this would be Larry’s last Ash Wednesday.  He died in the wee hours of Pentecost in 2013 of a seizure.  (On that dreadful date I said to my wife that one of the greatest gifts God has given us in this life is our inability to see the future.)  Now Larry’s physical body is well on its way back to dust, awaiting the Resurrection when it will be reunited with his soul.

Larry is now in the land which knows not Ash Wednesday, but only Eternal Easter, and we are left to experience this Ash Wednesday without him.  I have always found Ash Wednesday to be a bleak day and it will be much bleaker yet without my son.  However, Ash Wednesday, like death, is not the end, but merely a beginning.  As Ash Wednesday is the portal to Easter, death is the portal to eternal life.  Continue Reading

5

The Gift of Life

Michelangelo-Creation-Hands-SM1

Are you afraid of death?
Well, I can’t say that I have
any great affection for it.
Look below you, my friend.
For 70 years,
I’ve watched the seasons change.
I’ve seen the vibrant life of summer,
the brilliant death of fall…
the silent grave of winter.
And then, I’ve seen
the resurrection of spring
the glorious birth of new life.
And my father and my father’s father
have seen it before me.
Nothing ever dies, my friend.

Prince of Foxes Screenplay, 1949

 

 

My twins’ godmother wrote this to Donnie my surviving son this week:

 

Happy baptism anniversary!  I’ve been thinking lately about how precious the gift of life is.  I wrote an article on it for the parish newsletter.  I was thinking about Larry when I wrote about people with different abilities.  I had a chance to stop by his grave on my way back from a workshop on Saturday.  So I thought I’d share part of the article with you:

 

The Gift of Life

 

God loves you.  God just loves you. And the best evidence that God loves you is that he created you.  God can create anyone that he wishes to and he can see how each person will grow and develop, so he’d be nuts to create someone that he didn’t love.  But he’s not nuts.  He has chosen to love you.  His love is the spark of life in your soul, the beat of your heart, and the breath in your lungs.  When we “die,” his life in us changes, but does not end.  We continue to live as his creation, deeply, deeply loved by him forever.

The gift of life is the evidence that God loves us, not just you, but each of us.  Perhaps this is why we value life so much.  The love and respect that we have for every person is an expression of the love and respect that we have for God.  Emergency workers, for example, often risk their own lives to save others.  What we share with others God counts as having been shared with himself.  Parents, for example, give more than they thought possible to care for their children.

God’s love for us does not depend on our age or abilities.  It begins when he begins to knit us together in our mother’s womb and continues forever.  Before our bodies are formed, before we think our first thought, before our talents are known, before our parents know of our existence, God has chosen to create us because he loves us.

As we grow through life, all of us are loved by God.  Whether we’re athletically gifted or klutzy, whether conventionally beautiful or unattractive, whether we find it easy to love and trust others or not, whether intelligent or simple, whatever our gifts and talents, we are loved by God.  Even if we are hurt by abuse, or trauma, or addiction, or accident, God loves us.  We know that he loves us because of his gift of life.  And the loving care that we have for others, regardless of their gifts, shows that we are learning to love as God loves.

No matter how we leave this life, God’s gift of life continues.  If you die in an accident, if you are struck down suddenly by disease, if you linger for many years as dependent as a child, if you die gently in old age, no matter what, God loves you and his gift of life continues forever.  The respect and care that we have for those nearing the end of this life shows that we get it, that we understand how precious is God’s gift of life.

Life never ends and God’s love never ends.  They continue in the next life.  It may be that the only way we can continue to express our love for those who have passed on is by our prayers.  And this, too, shows that we have learned from God how to value his gift of life.

October is Respect for Life month, but respect for life is an everyday thing.  We constantly express it in the way we love and care for others, regardless of their age and abilities, but simply because God loves them, as he loves us.  But it’s good to recognize everyday things and to appreciate their value. 

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21

Opus Dei

LarryMcClarey2012

King David: That soldier who laid his hands on the Ark – he was only trying to be helpful.

Nathan the Prophet: It is not for us to question the ways of the Lord.

King David: I question nothing, yet the sun was hot that day, the man had been drinking wine, all were excited when the ark began to fall. Is it not possible that the man might have died naturally from other causes?

Nathan the Prophet: All causes are of God.

Screenplay, David and Bathsheba (1951)

 

 

Not that Opus Dei.  When my son Larry died on May 19, 2013 he had just completed high school on the Friday before he died.  He had one day of rest and then he died.  I had always wondered about what work I could find for Larry to do after he graduated from high school.  Because of his autism he could never have held down a regular job.  I planned for him to come to my office, although I wondered just what we could have him do.  It is quite possible he would have spent most of his days in a spare office room, watching TV and playing computer videos.  My secretary Chris painted the office room a deep orange, a color chosen by Larry, and I purchased a large new couch and had it put into the room.

Larry never spent a day in the room.  I assumed that God had work for my son to perform in Heaven, and I thought it had something to do with speech.  Larry died on Pentecost which struck home with me.  In life he was only able to answer yes and no questions and state the names of items.  It was impossible to carry on a normal conversation with him.  In the next world I was certain this would not be the case, so I had inscribed on Larry’s tombstone, “In Heaven He Speaks of God’s Love.”

At the time of my son’s death, my secretary Chris was recovering from her first bout with breast cancer.  The cancer came back in November of last year and Chris died from it on August 28 of this year.  She worked throughout as she battled this terrible illness, taking daily naps on the couch in what would have been Larry’s room.  Hours before she died, Chris was talking to Larry, she having been quite fond of my son during his life.

A mass was said in my parish for Larry yesterday, a date chosen at random by our priest, one of several masses we have had said for Larry since his passing.  I was stunned by the first and third readings:

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

Isaiah 35: 4-7

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Mark 7: 31-37 Continue Reading

28

Jesus Wept

 

 

Since my beloved son Larry died last year, not a day has gone by that I have not thought of him.  Immediately after his death I would think about him, literally, almost every minute of each day.  Now it is usually once every 15 minutes.  He enriched beyond measure the life of myself and my bride and I miss him with all my heart.  Larry had autism, and, as a result of his autism, my conversations with him were limited in words, although we each got our meanings across.  I greatly admired the way in which my son did not let his disability add sorrow to his life, and the joy he normally radiated warmed my soul.  I have had several privileges in my life that have been granted me by God, but I think the greatest was being entrusted with Larry.

Then I read how some parents who are having their unborn children tested for Down Syndrome react:

 

Rayna Rapp, a former abortion clinic worker who aborted a baby with Down syndrome herself, conducted a survey of women and couples who sought amniocentesis to screen for Down syndrome and other problems with their babies. All of the interviewees intended to abort if the baby was found to have Down syndrome. Some of the things that these parents say about Down syndrome children are deeply troubling to anyone who values life. Here are some comments from men and women who said they would abort if the test came back positive for Down.

  • I would have a very hard time dealing with a retarded child. Retardation is relative, it could be so negligible that the child is normal, or so severe that the child has nothing… All of the sharing things you want to do, the things you want to share with a child – that, to me, is the essence of being a father. There would be a big void that I would feel. I would feel grief, not having what I consider a normal family.(133)

  • I have an image of how I want to interact with my child, and that’s not the kind of interaction I want, not the kind I could maintain. (133)

  • I’m sorry to say I couldn’t think about raising a child with Down’s. I’m something of a perfectionist. I want the best for my child. I’ve worked hard, I went to Cornell University, I’d want that for my child. I’d want to teach him things he couldn’t absorb. I’m sorry I can’t be more accepting, but I’m clear I wouldn’t want to continue the pregnancy.( 133 – 134)

  • The bottom line is when my neighbor said to me: “Having a “tard,” that’s a bummer for life.” (91)

  • I just couldn’t do it, couldn’t be that kind of mother who accepts everything, loves her kid no matter what. What about me? Maybe it’s selfish, I don’t know. But I just didn’t want all those problems in my life. (138)

  • If he can’t grow up to have a shot at becoming the president, we don’t want him.(92)

  • It’s devastating, it’s a waste, all the love that goes into kids like that. (134)

  • I think it’s kind of like triage, or like euthanasia. There aren’t enough resources in the world. We’d have to move, to focus our whole family on getting a handicapped kid a better deal… Why spend $50,000 to save one child?(146)

All of these mothers and fathers (for they are already mothers and fathers to their babies growing in the womb) had chosen to have abortions if the baby had Down. The book did not specify which pregnancies actually tested positive and how many went on to abort. But all of the quotes above were made by men and women who fully intended to kill their babies if they turned out to be mentally challenged. Continue Reading

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Dear Future Mom

Hattip to Pat Archbold at Creative Minority Report. A very well meaning person once told my wife and I that she understood what a cross we had to bear due to the autism of our son Larry.  I responded by stating the simple truth:   that Larry had never been anything but a blessing from God for us.  So he was, from his first day to his last, and continues to be as he went ahead of us to the next world.  In this Vale of Tears many terrible things can happen to us, but the birth of a child, no matter what, is never among them.

13

Larry and Ash Wednesday

ash_wednesday

 

My late son Larry always seemed to enjoy Ash Wednesday.  Last year I went up with him to receive ashes.  He heard the traditional admonition:  “Remember man thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return.” and had the ashes placed on his forehead.  He then did the normal circle turn that he did after receiving Communion, and we went back to our pew.

Little did we know that this would be Larry’s last Ash Wednesday.  He died in the wee hours of Pentecost last year of a seizure.  (On that dreadful date I said to my wife that one of the greatest gifts God has given us in this life is our inability to see the future.)  Now Larry’s physical body is well on its way back to dust, awaiting the Resurrection when it will be reunited with his soul.

Larry is now in the land which knows not Ash Wednesday, but only Eternal Easter, and we are left to experience an Ash Wednesday without him.  I have always found Ash Wednesday to be a bleak day and it will be much bleaker yet without my son.  However, Ash Wednesday, like death, is not the end, but merely a beginning.  As Ash Wednesday is the portal to Easter, death is the portal to eternal life.  Continue Reading

37

Larry’s First Christmas in Heaven

Larry McClarey

But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

I am choking back tears as I post this.  Some very kind anonymous person left a package on our porch that had a framed copy of a poem in it:

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below

With tiny lights like Heaven’s stars reflecting the snow.

The sight is so spectacular- please wipe away the tear

For I’m spending Christmas with Jesus this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear

But the sound of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here

I have no words to tell you the joys their voices bring

For it’s beyond description to hear the angels sing

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart

But I am not so far away, we really aren’t apart.

So be happy for me dear ones you know I hold you dear

And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift for my heavenly home above,

I sent you each a memory of my undying love.

After all love is a gift more precious than pure gold. I

t was always most important in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do.

For I can’t count the blessing of love he has for each of you.

So have a merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.

Remember I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

 The poem was written by Wanda Bencke.  Her 13 year old  daughter Lysandra Kay Bencke had cerebral palsy.  She had a seizure and went into a coma on Christmas Day, 1997, and died five days later.  During those awful five days her mother wrote the poem.

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