A Great Man Died Today

I was planning to post on this blog about the arrival of the interim anchor down on the river. Then something important occurred which put that particular incident in perspective. That’s why I’m posting the following instead. I don’t know when I will be back. Stay safe everybody.

A great man died Monday night. He didn’t hold public office nor did he lead any armies into battle. He wasn’t a great statesman. He didn’t even like to speak in public.

He was a man who learned the value of hard work at an early age, growing up in a not-so-well-to-do family with three brothers and four sisters in the delta area of Southeast Missouri near the little town of Dorena, which doesn’t even exist any more.

By his own admission, he barely got through high school and was preparing to go into World War II when Germany and Japan surrendered. He figured he could make money farming and got down to the business of working long days and what seemed like longer weeks. He got married in 1949 and by the time the conflict in Korea was well under way, his occupation as a farmer was declared important to the war effort. He never served in the military but he believed in the right and might of the United States and he believed in God. He attempted to instill his beliefs in the seven children he fathered. He demanded that his children respect their elders by saying “Yes sir” and “no sir” and “yes ma’m” and “no ma’m”. He made one son apologize to his 5th grade teacher for behavior he felt was unbecoming for a son of his.

His idea of beauty was a herd of black angus cattle against a field of green winter wheat in the early spring. His idea of good music was Boots Randolph on the saxophone. As he worked six days a week, he dreamed of having time to fish, if and when he ever retired. He never quit trying, even when weather almost wiped out his crops. His advice was to keep moving forward, even if you had to slow down. His years of hard work eventually paid off and he retired in a fashion one might call comfortable. But even then he was reluctant to spend money because he knew from his youth how hard it was to get.

He was fiercely proud and warned his children never to start a fight, but if one got started, make sure to finish it. He taught his children to work hard, that it would pay off. He later changed his mind, saying corporate America no longer appreciated the hard work of Americans.

This great man was not without faults. He had them and he admitted he had them. One of those faults was an addiction to cigarettes that had started by his recollection around the time he was nine years old. He finally quit when he was 67 years old and said it was the hardest thing he had ever done.

That addiction caught up to him this past April, right after he turned 77 years old. An X-ray showed a spot on his lung and other scans showed cancer in various parts of his body. He tried a variety of treatments involving radiation and chemotherapy. In the end, he was just too weak. This great man went to the doctor on a Tuesday and was told he might have eight to 12 weeks to live. A few days later, a hospice worker said the doctor who made the announcement was generous and that the real time frame was half that. They were both wrong. In the course of one week, this man who stood firm and railed against everything that Mother Nature could throw at him, along with working 24 hour days and long weeks that would subdue a lesser man, succumbed to cancer. This great man who loved his family dearly and would have given his life for them, had to be helped from his bed to the sofa and to the kitchen. This man, who had an iron will that could not be bent, was left as helpless as a kitten by the awful ravages of cancer. In the final days his mind was clouded and his speech slurred by the heavy medications used to dull his pain. He finally gave up the fight after each of his seven children and his wife held his hand while he gasped for breath and told him it was okay to let go.

Yes, a great man died today. He didn’t win any medals and awards for his efforts. He was great because he only wanted the best for his family and worked as hard as he knew how to give them the advantages he never had.

He was proud of each and every one of them. I know I speak for my brothers and sisters and Mom when I say, “We will miss you Dad.”

Robert Larkins Jr.

April 15, 1928 – January 23, 2006

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13 Comments on “A Great Man Died Today”

  1. bishop Says:

    Joe,

    You have my blessings and prayers! God will give you strength to go through. I just experienced death and I know how you feel.

  2. mj Says:

    All of my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I am sorry for your loss.

  3. tmfree Says:

    My prayers are with you and your family. Keep his memory alive and he will always be with you.

  4. Joy Says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your father! We’re so sorry for your loss. You and your family will be in our prayers.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    My prayers are with you and your family. I hope he is resting peacefully in the arms of the Lord.

    Love, Nise

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Joe, My deepest sympathy to your family. From what you wrote….I believe God has another Arch Angel with Him today. Stay the course sir, stay the course.
    —J. Dwyer

  7. Pam Crittendon Roberson Says:

    Joe,
    What a great tribute to your father. Please know that you and your family have many prayers heading your way, including mine.
    Pam

  8. Anonymous Says:

    What a beautiful way to pay tribute to your dad. May the thoughts that so many of us who read you each day offer you comfort during this difficult time.

  9. pp Says:

    You and I talked about your dad last summer at lunch and I thought at the time (but did not say) how impressed I was with your obvious admiration and love for him. I am so sorry for your loss.

  10. Doug Johnson Says:

    You’re in my thoughts, Joe.

  11. newsboyarizona Says:

    Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers right now. I am sorry for your loss, Joe.

  12. Andy Wise Says:

    Joe,

    My prayers are with you and your family. You are missed and thought of often here at NC3.

  13. scott sutherland Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your father. He was blessed to have you as a son. May the one true God of Love and Peace comfort you and your entire family. ss


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