September 1, 1947 ~ October 15, 2015
For everything there is an appointed season.
And a time for everything under
heaven: A time for sharing. A time for caring. A time for loving. A time for giving.
A time for remembering. A time for parting.
You have made everything beautiful in its time.
For everything you do remains forever.
Larry Thurman Eulogy by his sister, Sherilyn Thurman
A friend asked me recently what my first memory of Larry is. I think I was about 4 years old when I remember my family moving into an apartment in Inglewood. It had a very long living room with hardwood floors. Larry sat at one end of the room and I sat at the other end and we had so much fun, rolling a ball back and forth to each other. Larry and I shared one of the bedrooms and at first we shared just one single bed. My mom would put us to bed head to foot opposite each other. Eventually our parents purchased another bed and I remember crying because I still wanted to sleep with my big brother.
If you know Larry you know he is almost always happy…as long as he is getting his way, which he did most of the time in our family – yes, he was spoiled and always the center of attention. Larry loves everyone – his love is unconditional and when he greets you he gets so excited, like he hasn't seen you in 10 years – even though it might have been just an hour before. Larry gives the best hugs and he especially loves hugs from women. If you're not looking he'll walk up to a total stranger and next thing you know he is getting a cuddle from some nice lady.
Everyone knows Larry loves birthdays and he starts talking about his next birthday as soon as his last one is over. And it is a phenomenon that he can remember everyone's birthday. Once he finds out when your birthday is he never forgets. And his gift requests are always the same – something simple like a new lunch bucket, or a new coin purse, a new cap with some sports teams logo. One time for Christmas Larry asked for a light bulb, so, of course I got him one and put it in his Christmas stocking. It was so funny when I found out from Teri, his caregiver, she had taken the light bulb out of one of his lamps in the bedroom because she was trying to teach him not to leave all the lights on all of the time.
People ask me what it was like growing up with a Down Syndrome brother – to me we were like any other family – we had our challenges and ups and downs and family dynamics. Growing up my parents didn't have a lot of money but we always had plenty of good food but most of all we had love and security. My dad worked very hard and my mother stayed home with Larry and me and I know they struggled with how to raise and provide the best life for both of us, especially Larry because of the challenges he would face growing up.
There weren't a lot of opportunities back in the 50's for the developmentally disabled – but my parents found Columbia school with a special program for special needs children. The issues, of course, were what would these special children do when they grew to adulthood. My parents efforts through the Columbia School PTA and then their work with the SWARC ensured a place for their adult children to go to work every day, earn a paycheck, and become contributing members of our society. Larry loved the workshop and thrived there for many years and made a lot of lifelong friends there, not only with his peers but with the staff who trained and took care of him. There are many of you here who now know that organization as ARC South Bay.
Larry moved from our family home to Southwest House about 15 years ago. My parents had gone on vacation and Larry stayed at Southwest House for respite care. When my parents got home, Larry didn't want to come home. He had grown up and wanted to live with his peers at Southwest House. It was very difficult for my mom to let Larry go but it was a blessing to know that he was so happy with his new extended family – Teri, his caregiver, and David, Pam, John, Jack and Michelle.
Larry had a wonderful fulfilling life – he was a boy scout, was on a bowling league, went to summer camp, loved sports, loved his work and loved his family and friends. But most important was the impact he had on our family – he shaped who we became and I believe we are all better people for having Larry in our lives.
Everyone always tells me "Larry was so blessed to have you as a sister." The truth is that I was blessed to have Larry as my big brother. He is an angel that is "love" personified. He was adored by all who knew him and he will be sorely missed. But I know he is in good hands now, back with mom and dad in heaven. I love you Wawwy!
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