I met Larry at his cousin’s funeral December 11, 2010. Monte, 70, had died crashing an ultralight plane that he had just learned to fly. (The crash site was located by the giant plume of dust and smoke that billowed out of the desert sand into the sky.) I was sitting on the ground on the tennis court Monte had played at every day in Sun City, with my camera aimed upwards, just moments before all the mourners sang in unison and released colorful balloons into the sky. Larry bent over and said, “Hi, who are you and who are you taking photos for?” I told him TIME Magazine and he was impressed. It was my third trip back, and TIME had commissioned my return. Larry still tells every single person he introduces me to this story about my working for TIME at his cousin’s funeral. It makes me blush every time, but I love that he tells it because it feels like one of those proud dad moves. Last visit last year, Larry’s Jeannie told me about discovering she had a brain tumor -- by watching an episode of Dr. Oz, believe it or not. The longer I’m away, the more anxious I become that something might have happened to them, and then, luckily, in their next email I find that they are fine and hope I will visit soon.
Jeannie always has cookies or brownies for me when I visit and we shared cookies and mango in their backyard in Sun City this weekend. Larry asked Jeannie if they should show me the new shirts they had made and I interrupted and said yes! So they went in and changed tops and came back out and unveiled this sweetness. Larry and Jeannie started dating (if you can call it that) when they were in second grade, in 1950.