Monday, August 25, 2008

Larry (part one)

Matthew neither needed nor wanted his Dad hanging around. He was basking in the delights of an all-encompassing cocoon of adoring attention, provided by two beautiful teen-age girls, who were serving as Volunteers, at the Special Olympics. They had Matt’s schedule of events. They knew when and where he was to compete. Hence, having a Parent hanging about would be nothing but a impediment to their enjoyment of all of the peripheral events provided for the enjoyment and entertainment of the attendees to this annual event. Food, fun, and games abounded. And none of those required my presence. So, I made my Self scarce. I took this opportunity to meander through the grounds and see what there was to see.

In the course of said meandering, I happened upon the swimming venue. The room enclosing the pool was packed to capacity with Friends, Families, and Fans of the Participants in the swimming events. It was loud, humid, and heavy with enthusiastic energy. So, I found myself a place out of the way and watched. The athletes were entering the pool for the next competition. All walked to the pool’s edge and eased themselves into the waters. All … save one. This exception to the group did not have the use of his legs. Consequently, he was lowered into the pool by attending hands. I wondered at this obviously unfair situation. But knowing how difficult it is to group contestants into homogeneous classes of capabilities … when you are, by definition, working with a population of all-handicapped individuals … I accepted the obvious inequity as something that was probably unavoidable. Then … the starting gun.

There was a mad flurry of churned waters as all of the swimmers struck out for the opposite end of the pool … where they were to touch the wall, and return to the Finish point … where they had begun. Away they went. They crowded facility was made nearly-unbearable by the cheering voices of all in attendance. The coaches screamed. The Volunteers exhorted their Charges. The Swimmers who awaited their events, all yelled and hollered. It was an electric environment. And in the midst of it all … was Larry. How do I know that his name is Larry? Because, Dear Friend, after the group of contestants touched the far wall … as they in mass struck out for the point of origins that constituted the race’s finish line … they passed the lone swimmer who was not-even half-way across the pool. They had all … save the One … reached the finish, whilst he was yet struggling toward the far wall. They, each and all, had removed themselves from the waters … and he had not yet brought himself t the turn-around point. “Take him from the pool when he reaches that first wall. Save him any further embarrassment and frustrated anguish!” I thought to myself. But … No! This single Swimmer did no less than touch the far wall … and turned for the opposite wall. Slowly … inexorably … ploddingly he began his lone trip across what (in that moment) looked like an immeasurable expanse of water. Then it was that I learned his name.

“Laaar -Ree, Laaar -Ree, Laaar -Ree,” chanted the crowd. Every eye was on this single individual. Unfettered good-will and enthusiastic encouragement was on every face in that place. “Laaar -Ree, Laaar -Ree, Laaar -Ree,” they went on … louder and with increasing vigor they cheered. And Larry ploughed through the interminable length of that pool to a chorus of his name … on everyone’s lips … over and over. Until, at long last, he completed the swim … and was removed, from the waters, by the same caring hands totally, completely, and absolutely spent … and smiling the smile of a victor! It was Larry’s moment. He was … at that time and in that place … the most significant and loved person in the whole world. And Lady Muse whispered to me.

I knew, in that moment, to the accompaniment of those cheering voices, and Larry’s glowing countenance, a lesson of timeless value. For, you see, Life had presented a demonstration of an eternal Truth in this experience that I had been privileged to be enveloped in. I will tell you about it … in following installments. I look forward to sharing it with you.


Anonymous said...

I think Larry is a fine example of "if you want something bad enough". Larry didn't give up! His heart & soul sustained him. He was focused & determined. A good lesson for us all. Can't wait for Part two. How are you John-Michael? Missed you

lime said...

sometimes it is the striving and the completion alone that make a thing worthwhile.

i look forward to your insight.

nitebyrd said...

Welcome back, friend!

So many times the journey is better than the actual destination.

aims said...

Ahh! I've been wondering where you got yourself off to! Indeed - welcome back!

Larry reminds me of the gentle soul who has come rafting with my brother for 8 years now. He has now legs and gets himself down to the raft over rough terrain on his hands and his bum. His legs were taken by a train right below his hips. He told me this year about it for the first time. He says it was the best thing that could have happened to him at 7 yrs. old. His life changed - yes - for the better. And with his disability he has seen the world competing in basketball - and more importantly - he spends his days helping others. A happy man.

When I think of him - my troubles become so small - and my life seems to brighten just with thoughts of him. He's a gift to this world.

Annie said...

Your story reminds me so much of how sometimes we want to go racing in to "help" someone when they don't need help..God already has the situation under his control, in ways different to ours!

Thank you for reminding me of this fact, J-M


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