Today we have come together not to morn the passing of Lawrence Rodriguez, but to rejoice in the life he lived. Try not to remember him as he was toward the end of his life—stubborn, hardnosed, set in his ways. Instead remember him the way he was in his prime—stubborn hard nosed, set in his ways.
That’s right, go ahead and laugh. It’s OK. Larry would have wanted that. Laughter was the foremost element in his life. Laughter was what made the world go round, laughter made life fun, and laughter healed all wounds. So if at any point you feel a laugh coming on, don’t suppress it. Larry’s life was surrounded by laughter and he lived to make people happy.
On behalf of Larry and Eve and their children we thank you for being with us to celebrate a life full of passions. Larry’s greatest passion was for his wife Eve. Happily married for 55 years, they created an indelible impression on the world, a mark that lives on through the family you see gathered here today.
Larry didn’t have any friends. If you were a friend of his, then as far as he was concerned, you were family. His relationships were life-long relationships. Bonds formed in High School were held tight throughout life. They went to war together, they went to work together, they started families together. They played together, partied together, in short, they lived together.
Larry loved. Larry loved his friends, Larry loved his family, Larry loved Eve.
The love they shared, they passed to their children and with that, the foundation was laid for a lifetime of moments. Moments of triumph and tragedy that would take another life time to relate to you. If what I say today doesn’t do justice to the task, look to his family, the legacy of his passions can be found within it.
Larry had a passion for games of all kinds. He did puzzles, participated in athletics, and played every card game you can think of. He approached life like a game of poker. He took the cards he was dealt and made the best hand he could. Sometimes he’d bluff his way through, like when he went to renew his driver’s license. He showed up at the DMV with his walker, took the eye test despite his double vision, and passed with flying colors. The state of NY gave him a license. He bluffed well and took the pot that day.
Other times he’d be forced to fold. No strike that, in life he was too stubborn to fold. He didn’t fold, he fought. Maybe he learned it in the war, maybe Brooklyn made him that way, or maybe it was just him, whatever the case the man was a fighter.
In the war he fought to preserve a way of life not only for country but for family, afterward he fought to provide a life for his family. No matter what the situation he did not fold. And they did pretty well, him and Eve; they came up with a full house—three aces over two sevens. There’s the Ace of Claudia, the Ace of Helen, and the Ace of Larry. One seven for his seven grandchildren and the last seven is for the day of rest, because let’s face it Larry really knew how to rest. He was the captain and undisputed champion of the extreme sleeping team. He could sleep anywhere, on a boat, on the beach, in the sun, in the shade, in fact he even fell asleep piloting his boat, but don’t let that get around they’d revoke his NY state driver’s license.
The full house gets even fuller when you realize that Larry lived a year into the life of at least one of the many great grandchildren to come. Even toward the end of his life when it was hard for him to find the laughter, he found it in a child. Larry and Eve gave all that they have to give, to their children. In a time when other parents were sending their children out to work, Larry and Eve encouraged theirs to continue their schooling. With his daughters he offered them two choices, go to college…or live at home until they were 35. Needless to say, they were soon the proud parents of three college graduates—college graduates who did eventually marry and start families of their own.
With his grandchildren Larry cultivated a love for ice cream by handing out ice cream money at every visit. All seven of them love lobster as he did, though that didn’t take with his own children. Snoring however, the battle cry of the extreme sleeper, was passed on to all three of his children as well as some of his grandchildren.
He taught the whole family to play cards, to water-ski, and to do magic tricks like the removable thumb. All that he enjoyed he shared with his family. Larry’s passion for life kept him living in the moment. He enjoyed life and drove the people around him enjoy life too. He created experiences for his family through spontaneity and determination. He pushed to get them out of the city. He wisked them off on vacations and beach trips. He never missed a family occasion, no matter how small, and Easter was traditionally hosted at their house with his famous Egg Hunt as the game of all games.
Larry also pushed to get a bigger boat. You had to know I was going to mention the boat right? After his wife and family, Larry’s greatest passion was the ocean. His early years were spent on Coney Island , on Long Island he made frequent trips to the beach, and the boat was the culmination of a life long love affair with the sea. A love he shared with his wife and family, and passed on to all whose lives he touched. He loved to sit by the sea, to fish in the sea, to boat on the sea. Everything but swim in the sea. Picture him in your mind, in his beach chair, fishing pole in hand, either cast out into the water or cast high into the sky flying a kite. Looking around, I now know why he loved the ocean so. Because it was just like him. The size and depth of his heart was as great as the sea. And the strength of his love was equal to the might of the ocean. He was the ocean and the ocean will always be him.
Though Larry’s love for family was strong, it was not always apparent to the casual observer, particularly if the casual observer broke bread with the Rodriguez’s. Lively debate was yet another passion of Larry’s. OK who are we kidding the man liked to argue. He had an opinion about everything and mostly likely it was contrary to whatever you just said. If he could hear me right now, he’d say I didn’t know what I was talking about. Guests were initially caught off guard by the course of a typical meal. If Breakfast at Tiffany’s is the pinnacle of high society dinning, then a standard meal at the Rodriguez’s would be like Dinner at Penny’s.
They started innocently enough, usually with some casual discussion. But like athletes warming up for the big game this was just a precursor to an intense debate that would hit its stride in between the main course and dessert. It was never personal, or mean, and they would always encourage guests to contribute. No one was ever kept from speaking their mind. Just don’t expect anyone to agree with you. The meal was officially over when Larry and Eve escalated it to a competition of volume and then with nothing left to be said on the issue, desert was served. Seems odd on the surface but that’s just good communication in Brooklyn right? This unique impassioned dining style was also passed down to their children despite the best efforts of their children’s spouses.
Larry’s passions were derived from the strength of his endless spirit. Death has no power over a spirit of such strength. Larry’s spirit lives on through his children and their families. He will never be gone, he will always be in our hearts because Larry and Eve showed us how to love.
Cabbie, crabbie, captain,
Laughin, lovin, nappin,
Fighter, father, fisherman,
Dreamer, ice-cream eater,
Fly by the seat, passion seeker,
He was a lot of things to a lot of people. He had a full life. A full house isn’t necessarily the best hand in poker. But he didn’t fold. He made it the only hand worth having.