I have been writing in one way or another for quite some time. Like many other things, I never thought that I was very good at it. It usually takes someone to encourage and inspire you for you to continue on when you feel that way and I had just that kind of person in my life. His name is Larry Libby.
I first met Larry in my church years ago. We always seemed to end up in a men's Bible study together. I can't say that I recall the first time that we met but I remember thinking of him as a quiet thoughtful type of man. Those studies seemed to progress into a sort of accountability type of group where guys could not only encourage one another but could also challenge one another. Guys have a much harder time of opening up and you really have to get to know one another pretty well in order to find someone that you can really trust before you are willing to slice open those more secret parts of you. Over the years, Libs became one of those few....those very few that I have ever felt that way with. A man's inner circle is an extremely elite group and I was proud to have Larry in mine for quite a few years.
I knew early on that Larry worked for a book company but was not aware of his job within it for quite some time. I remember being kind of shocked when I first found out that he was an editor but then realizing that it really fit the kind of person that he was. One who thought things out before he said them and then attempted to use the right words to get his point across. At the time that I found out, I was being asked to write a monthly blurb for our church newsletter on Men's ministry and I asked Larry if he would be willing to assist me in that endeavour. He willingly agreed and I was aware just how much impact that had on my small articles. Larry would encourage, teach, and adjust my words giving them new life and meaning. He told me that I had good thoughts but just needed to mold them into words where the reader might be able to more hear them when they read.
For years, Larry and I went from one group to another. A couple of them we shared in leadership and got to know some great men friends. In between, we often met at the diner or other venues to just talk. Larry was a very easy man to talk with.
Larry inspired me in other ways also. I would watch from my perch in the balcony at our church at his small family and watched them as the kids grew. He and his wife always seemed to have a loving control of his kids while I felt that I struggled in that department. I recall especially his daughter, Melissa. Now, he knew her faults but I could see none in her. She seemed to border on perfection to me.
Larry found out that I had earlier on in my life been in a few plays and encouraged me to rekindle that talent and I ended up being in a few plays, some of them with him. Those were times in my life that I truly enjoyed. If he saw a place where I could do better, he would always inspire using the right words that would never put down but lift up encouraging me to change the character in ways that would better get the personality out.
I then stood with him through the hardest part of his life as his wife, Laura, contracted cancer and eventually passed away. I remember his happiness when the doctors thought that they had gotten all of the cancer and then the fear when her blood counts did not come out as they should. I visited her once in the hospital and brought her a heart. That heart had a meaning to me as she was the heart and sole of my close friend.
I and others attempted to stay close to him and walk with him as he struggled with a pain that I knew that he felt that he might never get beyond. Having his kids around him were crucial in those times also. But, it seemed that it wasn't that much further on that they were out of school and starting off on their lives and I still remember Larry telling me just how quiet the house was. He said that the cat walking across the carpet became a deafening sound. I encouraged him to listen to music instead of the silence. I felt good trying to give back to my brother with that encouragement as music is such a large part of my life.
Larry and I shared another love in life and that was walking. After his loss, a few of us would get together every weekend and walk one of the various buttes in the area. Larry enjoyed finding new buttes to walk and we even ended up driving once to one out past Paulina just to say that we walked it.
We then came to a part of our lives where they began to go separate ways for various reasons. I became so focused on the task of saving Jake's and he had his changes going on in his life and we just kind of lost touch. We would see each other from time to time and I really relished those visits.
One guy, Ken Mays, stayed walking with him and they would walk the butte twice a week. I tried to be diligent with that but became a part time partner there.
I remember when Larry met a new woman in his life. It was something that he thought would never happen. He eventually married that same woman and ended up moving out of the area and what ties that we had were severed. I tried to keep up with what was going on with him but I knew that he had a new life and he needed to break free and live it.
I ran into Larry last night at the Christmas eve service. When I saw him, my daughters wanted to leave but knowing me patiently waited while I went over to great my old friend. It was so great to see him. He had such a glow about him and I could see how happy he is with his new beautiful wife. I could have talked all night but I knew that he had others to see also and I knew my daughters were still waiting but I did let him know that I was still writing and gave him directions to my blog.
A man has very few true inspirations in his life and I am happy to say that this man was one of my greatest. Libs, if you read this, I wish you all the happiness in the world and hope that in one way or another, we still stay in touch.