Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Reflections from Papa Larry

on December 17, 2014

My father-in-law Larry is the glue that holds a lot of things together.  His devotion to his family, his friends, and his church binds us.  He is a juxtaposition of the strong-and-silent type mixed with a little heart-on-your-sleeve sentimentality.  He loves his grandkids so very much – and they know it.  Larry is the only person allowed to refer to my children as princesses.  While the word always makes me cringe when anyone else says it, when he says it, it’s endearing.  🙂

When I think about what Larry went through when Tessa was born, I think it might be kind of like how couples with a prenatal diagnosis might feel.  There are pros and cons to finding out before birth.  I always figured that getting difficult news might be a little easier with the baby cradled in my arms.  On Tessa’s birth day, he had a terrible cold, so while the rest of us had the comfort of holding the little baby who had just rocked our world, he could only guess what she might feel like, look like, be like.

This is Larry’s story.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Shortly after arriving at work, my cell phone rang.  I knew it was John and am always glad to hear from him.  With a chuckle in his voice he said something to the effect of….”hey, you ready to be a grandpa again today?”  “You bet,” I said with a smile on my face.  “Let us know when we should head out to the hospital….Love ya….Go with God.”

I didn’t think that much about it during the morning.  This was a day I had planned to get home early in the afternoon anyway.  After being home for a short time, he called again.  Judy quickly grabbed the phone looking for news.  I could tell by the seriousness in her voice that there was something to be concerned about.  She seemed to be on the phone for an endless time and what I was hearing wasn’t making much sense.  When she finally hung up, she looked at me as serious as she ever had…”they think the baby has Down syndrome.”  The knot in my stomach brought the news home….. let’s go!

The thirty to forty minute drive to the hospital was pretty quiet.  I kept thinking that this is probably a mistake, “they” make these mistakes all the time, and besides, this doesn’t happen in our family.  In the back of my mind, I also knew if it was true, there was a reason for it and God was in control and He could handle anything… but I was still not believing it was true.

We visited the kids with a thousand questions, not really knowing what to ask, and where did we go from here?  Not much was said about what to expect just that other than the Down syndrome, she was a pretty healthy kid.  Thank God for that, but again, there were so many questions.  I remember Maggie saying to Judy, “you can go see her” and looking at me, she said “you can’t.”  Nothing personal, I was fighting a pretty bad cold, so my turn would have to wait.

Most of the rest of that day was pretty fuzzy.  Wondering, questioning, looking for bright spots, life for these two great kids was not going to go as everyone had planned.  I kept thinking if there were ever two young people that could deal with some of the tough curves of life, these two could soar like eagles…. and they did, and they do.  Their faith, their families, their friends, their support will all unite and comfort them with all the challenges to come.

The next day, I remember walking through the parking lot headed to work (I am the assistant to the pastor at our church).  I can remember saying to myself, “just come out and say it to them, you’re a strong guy.”  It was not so easy.  When I got into the office, I started to explain that something happened, dry throat, eyes watering, speech shaky.  I have always felt blessed to work in a church office, but never more than that day.  Pastor Dan is my friend and my supervisor, but now when I needed it most, he was my pastor.  He told me to come into his office and he said all the right things.  I can’t remember much about exactly what he said, but it was what I needed.  His prayer assured me that God was in control and everything would be okay.

The next day, the guilt I felt was huge.  How could I react the way I did?   We got this precious gift from God and I’m feeling sorry… since then, I have learned how blessed we are to have Theresa Lynn Lay as the newest member of our family and the blessings continue.

My heart really goes out to parents that have lost a child, or have given one up for adoption, or have decided to terminate.  I pray for them. These losses cannot be replaced and their hearts feel such devastating heartbreak.  Every time I look at Tessa and see that beautiful girl with her marvelous smile… I think, thank you Lord for Tessa Lynn… this sweet precious child.

photo (17)

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3 responses to “Reflections from Papa Larry

  1. Oh my goodness! You’re killing me with these pictures! The grandparents and Tessa… TOO CUTE!

  2. jenna says:

    I love that picture, it captures everything his words said about how much he loves Tessa

  3. Judy Lay says:

    Oh Bear, you are a remarkable man and your love for family is an inspiration.

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