By Mac Pomeroy
Despite having experienced death before in my life, nothing prepared me for this. All of the deaths I had prior experience with had been somewhat expected — they were either elderly or known to have bad health. I was not prepared, however, to walk into the living room Thursday and be informed that someone who was like an uncle to me was suddenly found deceased.
The news hit me slowly. For a moment, I sat and tried to process what had just been said. Then the emotions hit me all at once and tears began to pour down my cheeks. My parents, who had informed me of his passing, would never lie to me. It was true.
Larry was gone.
Biologically, we weren’t related. But I loved him like family, so it felt like someone just grabbed my lungs and ripped them from my body. I went to my room and sobbed.
When I was a young child, I didn’t have many friends. I never got along with other children, so most of the friends I did have were adults, including Larry. He worked at Golden Corral in Boardman as the kitchen manager, and I remember how going there for breakfast and seeing him was the best part of my week.
He was the definition of chaotic good and loved to get into some mischief.
We would talk about the most random things and just insult one another with the strangest names. We would take the Sharpies he carried with him and draw faces on the fruit. He even broke the rules and let me go into the bakery and operate the doughnut maker.
Of course, Larry also got along with my parents and sister, so it didn’t take long before he was family to us.
Throughout the years, he remained a part of our lives. He would make a point to come to a school performance or our graduation parties just to be present. Even if the time spent apart increased, nothing else ever changed.
He was still like my uncle, and I loved him. I looked forward to seeing him.
In July of 2019, we met Larry for lunch in Cleveland. It was my sister, my mom and I. It had been a year since I last saw him at my graduation party, but you wouldn’t have known it. There was never a quiet moment; the air was filled with laughter and catching up.
At the end, I gave him a big hug goodbye. I told him I would miss him. He laughed and hugged me back. He promised I would see him again.
During the next school year, I didn’t hear from him. We are all busy people, so it didn’t seem weird. But as time went on, we still didn’t hear from him. Less and less people heard from him, though they kept trying.
I am not going to get into details, other than to say it turns out he was ill. But, next time we heard of him, he was gone.
The man who drew on fruit with me was gone.
It is so hard to write about this. My typing is slow, and I am still fighting back tears. However, I want to share this with you.
Whether or not he was biologically related to me, I loved him like family. Right now, many of us are separated from our families due to the current circumstances. It could be your aunt or uncle, grandparents or even your parents.
Don’t let distance stop you. Check in with those you love. Ask them if they are okay, pay attention to if they disappear.
Cherish every moment you have with them. Tell them how much they mean to you. You never know when a simple lunch with someone may be the last. Hold onto the good moments as much as you can.
With that is my goodbye to Mr. Larry, the most amazing chef, and greatest fruit artist, to ever exist. I’ll miss you.