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I wonder if I knew how rich I was when I had three brothers.

Lawrence Woodhull Swanson, family, wedding, brothers, grandmother

Here we are; me, Robby, MomMom, Alan, and Larry, at Alan's wedding. Donna, the bride, thought Alan's hair was too short.

How could we have lost Larry, in so many ways, and we all acknowledged, the best of us? He was full of grace. Larry watched me and Alan and Rob, his big sister and brothers, and figured out that if he gave Mom and Dad what they wanted; nice manners and good grades, they’d leave him alone to do as he pleased.

Once when I was feeling overwhelmed with new motherhood and I wasn’t getting enough understanding from Arthur--he was all, “ Okay, so you just had a baby, but where’s my dinner?” Larry listened to me sob out my story, patting my knee, and said, “From what I have observed, living with another human being has got to be the most difficult thing in the world to do.” And that got me through the next few days.

And when he and Arthur went running around the Central Park Reservoir and Arthur was bushed after two laps, Larry said that he was tired too. I picked Arthur up in the car and as we drove away we saw Larry running like a gazelle, not in the least bit tired, but too kind to tell that to Arthur.

He had a sharp side as well. His birthday was November 27, which sometimes fell on Thanksgiving Day. One year Larry came down to breakfast and said, “dId anyone remember that today’s my birthday?” Mom, busy for days with the big meal had totally forgotten Larry. He had not reminded her or any of us. For the rest of the weekend he had Mom at his mercy and she couldn’t do enough for him, she felt so guilty.

He once said at dinner, “You know how if there are six people at a table there are six slots for the conversation? Well, Barbara’s always considered my slot to be her slot.” Later the same evening he said, “You’ve been awfully quiet tonight, Barbara.”

That was Larry, biding his time until he had a point and then making it with maximum effect.

He was a gifted athlete—not a bug guy, but wiry and wily. Look at this picture of a game of catch with Robby.

Lawrence Woodhull Swanson, family, brothers, frisbee

Robby thinks he has a lock on that Frisbee but look at Larry’s left hand.

I think about Larry every day, and I miss him. I miss not only Larry but all the times we could have had; all things that were never meant to be.

How do I express that loss? This poem by Yehuda HaLevi, a 12th Century Spanish Jewish physician, poet and philosopher says it for me.

“Tis a Fearful Thing" ‘Tis a fearful thing to love what death can touch. A fearful thing to love, to hope, to dream, to be – to be, And oh, to lose. A thing for fools, this, And a holy thing, a holy thing to love. For your life has lived in me, your laugh once lifted me, your word was gift to me. To remember this brings painful joy. ‘Tis a human thing, love, a holy thing, to love what death has touched.”

Lawrence Woodhull Swanson, family, baseball

November 21, 2019

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