Excellent Joy

My uncle Larry passed away on Friday and his funeral was this morning. Larry is my father’s brother and he was mentally handicapped. He was a joy to everyone who knew him. I wish you all could have known him, because he would have touched every one of your hearts.

For his funeral my brother and I played “When The Saints Go Marching In” in a Dixieland jazz style on our trumpets. It was one of his favorite songs. His greatest love was music. Every year at the high school Christmas concert the band director would have Larry come down to direct the band for Frosty the Snowman, and Larry was in his glory. At times when Larry was incredibly happy, such as when directing the band, he would say, “Excellent Joy!”. This pure happiness he exuberated is what I wish we could all feel.

On the evening before the day he died his doctor said he had only a couple hours to live, so my family and I sat with him all night. Throughout the night we told stories about Larry and laughed and cried. When 6 am rolled around Larry was starting to stabilize so we decided to go home to get a couple hours of sleep. My mom stayed with him, however. Only a few hours after we left, Larry suddenly quickly went downhill. He died in my mother’s arms which I am very grateful for, because my mom took such great care of him. I’m convinced that it was our voices that kept him going through the night, because he loved being a part of discussions even though he couldn’t add anything to the conversations. He would laugh along with everyone else though and just spread a feeling of warmth and joy to everybody.

Larry was the most pure and innocent person I have known. He treated every person with respect regardless of how wealthy they were, the color of their skin, etc. I learned a lot from him.

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About danielrosmann

I am a farmer from southwest Iowa. I raise organic cattle and hogs as well as various organic crops. I type with two fingers and average about 4 words per minute. I start many sentences with I. Also, I'm less funny in person probably.

4 thoughts on “Excellent Joy

  1. “Excellent Joy”—what a beautiful phrase! In the parish where I work, we have several children and adults with various forms of developmental or physical disabilities, and your Uncle Larry’s term, “Excellent Joy,” is the perfect descriptor for what they bring to Mass and faith formation. Two of the boys, one with MS and the other with Cerebral Palsy, both insist on coming to the hour long choir rehearsal before an hour and fifteen Mass because they love the music and, as one said before he lost his ability to speak, “God is with me in the music.” It doesn’t matter how many classes I take or books I read in theology, if I don’t know how to find “Excellent Joy” in my daily life and in my prayer, I won’t know the presence of God in my life. Thank-you for your story, and I am sure that your Uncle Larry is experiencing that “Excellent Joy” in his eternal life.

  2. I also love the phrase “Excellent Joy” — Becky articulated my thoughts about this pretty well, so I don’t have much to add except to say I agree that this pure and uninhibited Joy is what true connection to God is really all about. It’s beautiful when we can have living examples here on earth of what that joy looks like.

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