Story: Pat Jocelyn
I’ve lived in The Villages for more than 10 years and have noticed something a little peculiar; some might say unsettling. There aren’t any cemeteries in our community. You’d also be hard pressed to find a funeral home. Sure, there are some of those businesses hugging the outskirts of The Villages like static-cling on a wool dress but none (to my knowledge) exist within the physical boundaries of The Villages.
Although most folks, perhaps even The Villages developer, prefer not to dwell on the subject of dying, like it or not people in The Villages are aging, getting sick, and eventually passing. It’s life’s final performance—something that is both painful and life altering for a loved one to witness.
A friend told me about a Villager whose husband died after 51 years of marriage. The new widow was totally dependent on her husband and when he died, she chose to withdraw from the world. Friends and family couldn’t coerce her to re-engage socially. Six months later she followed her husband. She gave up.
Larry Harris chose a different route. The 88-year-old Villager was married for 66 years and was his wife’s primary caregiver for the last five years of her life. His world revolved around her comfort and care—a loving task he took very seriously. Sadly,
Larry realized he would most likely outlive his spouse and knew if he were to survive after her death, he needed to consciously work at filling the huge void her passing left behind. After that happened, Larry began rebuilding his life. He joined a local church. He participated in a grief support group. He participated in an exercise class, went to dances, and made new friends. He attended a number of Village events with his new friends and eventually began dating. Larry is embracing life. Was it easy for an 88-year-old man to start over? Hell no, but the alternative of giving up didn’t enter the thoughts of this inspiring man.
Larry has a zest for life that’s hard to match and a determination to squeeze every drop of living out of the time he has left. Larry says it best in his own words, “Why give up? You’re not at the goal line yet. You still have a life to live even if you don’t know for how long.”