Larry and I met at a Valentine’s Day dance over 40 years ago. It’s a love that deepens with the years. Hopefully, our story will inspire you to build a stronger and more lasting relationship with the one you love. After retiring from teaching, he has devoted himself to working for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Bright Hope, Faith in Action, Love INC and most currently Adaptive Adventures. In the past, Larry managed, with the help of friends and family, to fix up and give away more than 2,000 bicycles. We have always been a team. We have a tandem kayak, a tandem bicycle and I wouldn’t miss a ride on the back of his Gold Wing Motorcycle up to Lake Geneva. This probably is one of the reasons why we are close. We choose to serve together, pray together and play together. Not that we don’t have our problems like any other couple. But our nature is to love and to laugh and it’s hard for us to stay angry for very long. We try to follow what the Bible says. “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” Many times we just agree to disagree. We can both be stubborn at times. We look to the Bible for guidance as it is a source that never chances unlike the latest counseling advice. Finding happiness, we have discovered, comes from serving one another and helping others. It once has been said,” A person makes a very small package if he is totally wrapped up in himself.” We both love people, the outdoors, and each other so that is why our latest serving experience is so perfect. It embodies all of our passions. Larry is my trailblazer setting us off on yet another adventure.
For the past four years, Larry has been an instructor at Wilmot Ski Resort where he noticed a group of Adaptive Adventure Skiers in the cafeteria. Being retired military, he immediately wanted to know how he could get involved helping GI’s returning with causalities from Iraq and Afghanistan. He met Reilly who lost a leg in combat. We were so impressed to see how well Reilly skies and how he teaches others the sport. We knew it was an organization we wanted to get involved in. It wasn’t long before Larry was spending two full days a week helping disabled adults and children. My first experience with Adaptive Adventures was a weekend up at Cascade. I thought I was going to shadow Larry. But before I knew it, they had me skiing with Hailey, a legally blind 17 years old. She was so excited to be on the mountain on a warm, sunny day. We talked non stop about her family, school and skiing. As a former English teacher, we discussed The Scarlet Letter, Shakespeare, etc. We talked about poetry slams and decided to write a poem about Jeff, the young man who taught her how to ski. We could only find paper plates and a marker to write our hilarious poems. The most I had to do for Hailey was to take her by the arm as we got off the lift and to guide her down the hill. She did a splendid job avoiding any potential hazards.
We came in for lunch and the table looked like something out of a sci-fi movie. It was surrounded with prosthetic legs. I never knew there were legs for skiing as well as legs for walking. Sarah, an Africa American teenager dressed all in pink, just beamed as she smiled at Hailey and me. She and her friend were taking a break from their morning adventure on sit-skies. Yes, a paraplegic can ski while sitting and control the directions.
Yes, life with Larry has been full of adventures in our quest to help others and in so doing—-help ourselves.
I woke up this morning to the strong smell of “no” not coffee, but Bruce’s Hard Wood Ever Ready Polish. Larry had difficulty sleeping, so he decided to polish the living room floor. I bet there are a lot of wives out there who would love to wake up to the sight of their husbands polishing the living room floor. I am blessed with a 6′ 2″-240 lb.husband who is much more domesticated than I am. Larry cleans, cooks, and sews. Did I mention that he built our home? When I woke up at 8 AM Sunday morning, I thought I was smelling shoe polish on some very large shoes. But instead, he decided that our cleaning equipment was old and out of date, so he went over to Menards and purchased a new mop and broom. The house looked pretty good by the time I woke up. Feeling a measure of guilt, I took off to play tennis with a friend while he went to war against spiders and box elder bugs who have made their residence with us. The wood burning stove has been going all day making the house cozy with branches he cut down this summer. The neighbors call on Larry to cut down trees and branches—which means wood for the stove. I sure hope he sleeps tonight, but then again maybe I’ll wake up to the smell of fresh paint instead.
We went to the Door County 2012 Peninsula Plein Air Festival where our son Aaron was a feature artist. We all stayed at my brother’s summer home in Fish Creek. While sitting around the kitchen table eating corn on the cob, our 5 year old granddaughter, Natalie, bit into her corn and discovered her front tooth imbedded in the cob.
This was a surprise to us, since she never mentioned a loose tooth. She examined her treasure with a big smile. But then at bedtime, she had a perplexed look on her face. “I don’t think I should put my tooth under the pillow in Fish Creek. It might confuse the Tooth Fairy who knows I live in Chicago,” she said. I immediately had a vision of a fluttering Tooth Fairy dressed in proper fairy attire flying back and forth from Wisconsin to Chicago wondering where to land to retrieve Nata’s rare jewel.
Her cousin Isaak said, “Nata, if you lose the one next to it, you can put a straw in the space and whistle. That was an intriguing idea to her. On her way home in our van, Nata held her treasure and examined it often. “I really don’t want to give my tooth to the Fairy at all. I like it too much,” she said. Immediately, I saw the deflated Tooth Fairy evaporate into the mist.
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To see Aaron’s award winning art go to www.aaronschuerr.com
Unshaven— retired—Larry is dressed in his usual ragged attire of holey blue jeans and a multi-stained red flannel shirt. He is feverishly pulling weeds in our front yard flower garden while tunes float from his iPod. His newly purchased cell phone is securely fastened to his tattered belt for instant retrieval. Less than a year ago, macho 6’ 2” Larry would not be caught dead with either one of these devices. He mocked the cellular world by taking a dead phone and banging it on the table shouting, “Can you hear me? Can you hear me, now?” But Larry wanted to buy a travel trailer for retirement years to see two of our grown children and grandchildren in Montana, and I would not approve of the purchase unless “I” got my desired wish—a cell phone. The devices are now precious commodities to him. I was given the golden cell phone rule, “Thou shalt not talk on the cell phone while driving.” If I committed such a crime, my punishment would be confinement to the backyard shed for a week with nothing more than bread and water for sustenance.
Life has radically changed over the past year. Now that I am also retired from teaching, I have more time to clean the house and to do the wash properly. Did I say properly? Honestly, I checked his pockets, but missed his precious iPod in his back pocket. To my dismay, it was doing a backstroke on the bottom of the washing machine. It has been secretly drying out in the kitchen drawer for a week now. Do I tell him or continue to lead him to believe the iPod is missing in the cluttered menagerie of the house? I called Best Buy and Circuit City for life support and advice on how to renew sanitized iPods. Their bleak statement was to run while the running was good, or I might be confined to the attic with no food at all.
I reminded myself that it was just a gift from our precious daughter, Julie, and her husband Geoff so they didn’t have to listen to Enya, Elvis and Hank Williams while Grandpa Larry remodeled their 118-year old home in Chicago. They only downloaded 750 songs for him.
Have I heard somewhere that being retired is like returning to those carefree days of yesteryear? What carefree days? Who has them with the economy on the brink of disaster, and bread at $4.00 a loaf? Now that’s a thought; I might not get bread while serving time in the shed.
To the astonishment of us all, the iPod did dry out and works well today.