I found out today that my good friend Larry Carolla had died. Over one month ago. On March 15, 2017 at approximately 10:38 a.m. he called his ex-wife to say he didn’t feel right. She was alarmed, told him to call 911 and that she would be right there. She was at his duplex in two minutes, the paramedics within 10, but he was dead instantly of a massive heart attack and unresponsive.
Unresponsive. Larry was the most responsive person I knew. Always. About everything. With that word in her email and subsequent phone call, I knew he was gone. Just that morning he had posted on his Facebook page beginning at 6 something a.m. some indignities about the Republicans and Obama Care. He was furious. He texted Sheri a few hours later and then he was gone.
I had missed his presence. There hadn’t been the usual opinions on Facebook. No emails since Valentine’s Day. I knew something was wrong. I assumed it was the hip surgery he had planned, so I emailed his ex. They lived 12 blocks away in a small Oklahoma town. I knew she would know and she did. How kind it was of her to call. And in her state of shock, console and try to cheer me…Larry’s friend since 5th grade at Wooddale Elementary School in Edina.
Larry and I could have argued about that. He said he met me in his 4th grade class. He remembered it distinctly. But I didn’t move to the East side of Edina until the middle of 5th grade. I didn’t argue with him. Larry could argue the pants off a brass monkey as my Grandfather would say. I couldn’t. Our arguments would end with me in peals of laughter or tears before I would ever win. I didn’t often partake!
Larry called me his “Sky Pilot” because of my faith. He loved my Faith. He loved my Christianity. He’d become Jewish in his adult life after being raised Episcopalian and attending Jesuit colleges. He loved the Jewish faith and people. So did I. We had much in common. And we were both bipolar. This was a big connection between us. Larry floated mostly manic. I strove for the even keel. He took lithium and was never, ever depressed. He was Larry, or a bit manic, or more so.
I take all my meds, on time always. Right now I’m in remission they call it. But for some years, I fought hypo-mania (slightly manic). I can’t take lithium and they had me on anti-depressants which pushed me hypo-manic. I didn’t really know the cause of it. My doctors weren’t aware of what was causing it. I fought the condition all the way. always striving for balance. Yoyo-ing between being a bit manic and depressed. It was tough. During this time I was on disability, worked part-time and opened two businesses.
Larry always worked, flourished often. talked up a blue streak and did quite well. A successful journalist, radio talk personality and entrepreneur. He was a genius. I’m smart, but I’m not a genius. I’m a hard worker and good at sales. Larry always wanted us to work together.
When he died he had another successful business venture he was building. He wanted me to come on board. Never happened. It never will. He’d gotten into some trouble a while back in Wyoming. He paid off his debt to society and all the restitution that went with it. He was no longer bound by any of it. Life had come full circle for him. He was happy and prosperous again. He had not a care, but the doctors weren’t happy. They wanted him to go on Statin drugs. He didn’t want to. I wasn’t privy to this conversation. I would have argued with him about that, but he would have won. He didn’t like hospitals. He didn’t like drugs. He was going to win by losing weight. He was on Nutri Systems. He’d gained 5 pounds on the diet so far. He was a genius. But not about everything!
Larry always said he was the type to give heart attacks not get a heart attack. Years ago, on the phone we were joking about this. I said I thought I was the same way. We fancied ourselves trouble makers in this conversation! He said when we were old we would have outlived out spouses and we would get together in the same nursing home and raise holy terror. Just one of his dreams about us. I went along, he was so taken with the idea. I guess you had to be there! LOL!
Dear Lar. You’re not here anymore to plot capers with. I’m far too well to get crazy with you again. I think it sounds like you were too. You were optimistic and bright about the future. You had your new duplex with a beautiful home office. Your precious Mollie dog was there with you that day. Dear Sheri and you were closer than ever and seeing each other regularly, dearest of friends.
I guess you could say you were at a very high point in your life. Sixty-four years old and you of the big voice of our High School, were living large like you like to live! You were at the top of your game. I’m so very sorry, dear friend that your body would not cooperate. As your Sky Captain I’m here for your winging your way home, my Jewish friend. I know you have by now found many great and intelligent people to debate! And you have a fresh perspective that will keep you from getting too upset, and a new heart that won’t be stressed if you do.
Thank you for the countless hours of conversation we have shared and the laughs!
Larry Gary and I at last Summer’s HS Reunion
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss