Created with love by K Herford
Time: 06:00 PM
Date: Oct 06, 2018
Address: 318 Church Ave. SW
Info: A memorial service, TBA, honoring Larry's life among friends and family will be held in his hometown. Arrangements entrusted to Oakey’s Roanoke Chapel, 318 Church Ave. SW, Roanoke, (540) 982-2100.
Funeral service not available.
Burial service not available.
In my uncle Larry Herford's honor, I shall finally establish the foundation I've been thinking on for some time now - for at-risk adults - who I believe are worth saving too.
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My handsome uncle Larry died on his birthday. I haven’t decided, just yet, whether that was divine completion or just ironic.
He was my daddy’s youngest brother, the baby of all the siblings in fact, and now only two remain.
It had been a sea-saw week (when he passed) - one in which just after my band and I finished performing at our sold out show in NC - I was confronted with a sudden request from my uncle to “come say goodbye”. While I had been made aware that he’d “taken a turn for the worst” while we were traveling, I had not yet wrestled with how close his passing might be.
To be certain, there are few things, if any, comparable to sitting with the dying. It is one thing to confront the inevitability of death - of those we love and our own. It is another thing entirely to witness the dying, up close. And if there are regrets, or any thing stale and unresolved, it can be brutal. Sadly, more than once - in quiet rooms, where death unapologetically lurked - I have sat beside brutal.
Like all humans in one way or another, my uncle was a complicated man. He served in the army during Vietnam although that war would not be his first or last. My uncle, not unlike others in my family - including my dad - was an alcoholic. It is a battle he’d already been engaged in for some time when I came into the world. For all who’ve experienced growing up in an alcoholic home, then you know intimately the level of discord and mayhem born out of the disease.
And as destructive, hurtful and frightening is the behavior often associated with addiction, it does not make it any less a disease.
A disease that tears families and loved ones apart and suffocates compassion until there is none left. As tempting as it is, I never found this a position I could fully own. If nothing else, loving and adoring my dad as I surely did - alongside his sometimes despised behavior - taught me first hand how to love unconditionally. If my mom could forgive him, not only could I forgive the distress he sometimes caused us, I could also love my uncle Larry regardless of who he’d been in the world, in his marriage, in our family.
Addiction. Mental Illness. Self-medicating, not unusual. Addressing it wholly as a society, sadly is. But that’s another post for another time…..
The thing is, I also adored my uncle Larry. Perhaps it is for how I remember he looked at me - then 10 years old - after my father passed communicating without words his care and concern for ME. My uncle Larry offered me in that moment what so few other male figures in my life at the time did - intentional attention. Over the years, that attention, WHEN he was sober, became laser sharp.
Then one day, not many years ago, I understood for the first time when we were hanging up from a check-in call why my love for him had also been laser sharp.
Hanging up he said, “I love you baby.” This was nothing new. I told him, as many times before that I knew that and I loved him too. I actually was rushing to get off the phone. :) He raised his voice just enough to get my attention, and he said again, “Do you hear me, I love you.”
When we finished that call, I sat on my sofa stunned - because I had heard him, and for the first time recognized that he’d been the only other man - besides my dad, and a few boyfriends - who told me he loved me. Yet he may have perhaps been the only man I had really ever believed. He had nothing to gain.
I will miss his “I-love-you’s” terribly, and the enduring comfort I drew from them and his steady gaze.
When I went to visit with him in Virginia two days before his passing to grant him his wish of “being at peace” with his eventual dying, he made me take off my sunglasses. He said he wanted to “see” me and know that it was well with me. I reluctantly removed my glasses, held back my tears and told him it was. We called my mother, and after we all traded “I-Love-Yous”, I hugged him, got up and walked to the door. I did not turn around nor speak another word directly to my uncle…
Looking back, I now realize he’d wanted me to come sit in person so that he could once again offer to me his laser sharp attention insisting that I know I was loved by him. Longing to offer him the same, I reached out to his wife and only daughter once more - hoping they too - as my mom and I - had left the past behind.
Not only had they released it, they released my uncle too when they phoned him from Germany yesterday to say don’t worry, they were well, loved him and forgave him. He must have also finally forgiven himself, because this morning, on the same day he’d been born 60+ years ago, he left us. AND I SO desperately hope it was with knowledge in his heart that he too was deeply loved.
No matter what, the war is over; and he has no more battles to fight.
May he now be at peace, for I know that my Papa, Granny, Daddy and Aunt Shorty have lovingly greeted him to take care of their baby once more.
Journey well my beautiful uncle. Journey well!
Larry was the youngest of five siblings, two of which proceeded him in death; Johnny Herford and Alberta Dillard.
Larry loved all types of music and his favorite song was "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers.
Larry was married to Doris Herford of Frankfurt, Germany and together they had their only child, Christina Herford.
Larry was an active member of the United States Armed forces during Vietnam war.
Larry graduated from George Washington Carver High School in 1969.
Larry Wade Herford was born in Rockingham County, NC.
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