LARRY - In the autumn of my years
I find myself – in the autumn of my years – becoming far more introspective than I ever was in the springtime of my youth.
I think that’s probably good if I’m wise enough to recognize the truth and to try to make some changes.
The way I look back on it, my real life began when I got married. Before then, I was a kid and then a regular teenager. I did some things I shouldn’t have (most of them my parents never found out about), but overall, I was a pretty good person and friend.
I was a 21-year-old college student when I married My First Wife. She pretty much settled me down. No more staying up all night with a bunch of crazy dorm mates.
But, we were young and in love. We enjoyed our meager existence and did some fun things. We enjoyed each other.
After I graduated, we moved to Clinton and there became two Larrys. The professional Larry and the personal Larry.
I’ll not deal with the professional Larry in this space. I have very few regrets in the 43-year newspaper career and those days are over.
The personal Larry is the one I’ve spent some time contemplating recently. Larry the husband, Larry the father, Larry the grandfather.
While I have few professional regrets, I have a good many personal regrets. I wish I had loved more and cared more.
Honestly, I don’t think I was (or am) a bad husband, a bad father, a bad grandfather. But, I know for a fact, I could have been much better. That bothers me.
I watched a feature recently about Matt Millen – a former all-out professional football player, an engaging TV analyst and a horribly unsuccessful football executive.
He had a heart transplant just prior to last Christmas.
Some of his four children and his wife were interviewed for the documentary. They didn’t make him out to be the perfect father or husband, but they spoke quite emotionally of his struggles and his strength.
That got me thinking about me. (I guess it’s all about me. Maybe that’s the main problem.)
When My First Wife and I said “I do,” I was commanded to make her the most important thing in my life other than my relationship with the Lord.
She was to be that on the day we married and she is still to be that today. More important than our children or our grandchildren or my job or the Gamecocks or anything else.
I have fallen short of that, but I have pledged myself to fix it.
I think I was a decent father as my kids grew up, but I spent too much time working and thinking about work. I feel guilty about that.
In spite of my failings, our two children are really, really good people. They both have good educations, good jobs they enjoy. They both are happily married to good people and are much better parents than I ever thought to be.
For those things, I am grateful to their mother and to the Lord for His goodness.
My grandchildren – all four of them – are perfect. No regrets there.
The point of this, I guess, is to admit I’ve not done as good a job as I should as a husband, as a father and as a grandfather. I recognize that. I admit that. And I’m going to try very hard to do better.
(Larry Franklin is retired and lives in Clinton.)