Don’t let the fear of striking out get in your way.
Laura and Larry Tedeschi waited a long time to be parents. They began the adoption process and waited another two years before receiving the call clearing them for travel. They were cleared to board a plane, fly to China and bring home the precious baby girl they had been dreaming about!
The plan had always been to travel together, mom and dad for the first time, and return home as a family of three. However, when the time came Laura was the only faculty member teaching nutrition to nursing students and was unable to leave work for the amount of time necessary for travel. They quickly formed another plan and Larry traveled with a friend, a male nurse, who was able to lend a hand and provide great support for first-time dad Larry. Laura recalls those first weeks, citing how painful is was to miss that time but also how amazing it was for Larry and their new daughter to form such a special bond from the very beginning.
They named their precious girl Elaria. Elaria entered the Tedeschi family as the 13th grandchild. The Tedeschi’s have a big, beautiful and bustling Italian heritage and the name Elaria comes from family. It’s a combination of her grandparents’ names. Her middle name, Tosca, comes from her grandmother and is from Italian opera. Family is very important in Italian culture and this expansive family absorbed Elaria in immediately. Laura shares, the togetherness that she’s brought has been unbelievable, Larry and I always recognized how fortunate we were to have her. She has been the delight of our lives.
Larry and Elaria continued to have a special father-daughter bond as she grew older. He taught her life lessons through his favorite sport and team… the Yankees. Elaria began ice-skating at a young age and Larry was careful to teach her about sportsmanship and grace. He was a fixture at the ice rink, always reminding her that you don’t always win, but make sure to lose with dignity. And above all, go big, try hard, do your best and knock it out of the park. Elaria absorbed these truths from her father and continues to perform, win and lose with grace and maturity.
Larry drove Elaria to school every morning. They had inside jokes and rituals and routines including stories they created about the things and people they passed each morning. They made the time full with conversation and music… Italian opera and music from eras gone by. Larry brought out the old soul in his daughter.
Laura recalls special vacations like the time they traveled to Italy together in 2014. She shares how Elaria really embraced their Italian heritage, meeting extended family and taking part in conversation. Elaria and Larry ate everything, all the pasta, at all times of the day! Larry, although afraid of heights, took on the leaning tower of Piza just to enjoy the memory with Elaria. These are the best memories, old and new together, sharing where we came from with our daughter, Laura reminisces.
In 2015 Larry went in for a routine check up. His blood work showed some abnormalities. Two weeks later they received the news that Larry had colon cancer and numerous tumors in his liver. Tumors that had spread, even into his lungs. Larry had no symptoms leading up to this diagnosis and this was a complete shock and life-altering moment for the family. Laura remembers Larry simply saying, It looks like I have a fight on my hands.
Laura and Larry decided to take on this cancer aggressively. Larry’s baseball themes continued into his treatment as he left it all on the field. He went to work every single day, he participated in every proposed treatment. He lived life and his family lived life as normally as possible. Skating continued and Elaria’s hard work continued. Larry always remained optimistic. The hospital staff recalls how he always had humor and how his face lit up when he spoke of his wife and daughter. He wanted nothing more than to see Elaria shine and do good for other people. Laura’s remembers his strength during this time, His glass was half full in everything, he never questioned why this was happening to him.
The treatments were highly aggressive and came with their share of risks. The doctors and medical staff truly did everything they could to preserve Larry’s life, but in the end his liver began to fail and the doctors advised them to make final preparations. The family decided, at the suggestion of their doctor, to celebrate Christmas early that year. It was Larry’s favorite holiday. They also prepared for Larry to attend a ball, a charity event, with Elaria and Laura. He knew this was the only opportunity he would have to do such a thing. To escort his beautiful girls, dressed the nines, to a formal event.
The preparations were made. A local church surprised the family by decking out the house in full Christmas décor, even a tree, in the middle of October. The menu was planned, the family invited… everything was in full swing for an early Christmas. But just as the celebration was nearing Larry’s health took a turn. After a tuxedo fitting, in preparation for the charity ball, Larry began to feel exhausted. He had to come home and rest. Then confusion and agitation set in, Larry was pacing and exhibiting signs that worried Laura. She immediately called hospice and they sent an ambulance to come. Larry’s liver was shutting down.
When Larry and Laura sat down with Elaria weeks before to share the news that the end of Larry’s life was nearing… it was over dinner. Laura said we always have dinner together, every night, no matter what. And when they sat down that evening Elaria asked how their appointment had gone that day. Larry, with all honesty, said Remember how we have to prepare for the game? You work hard, you train, you do everything. But sometimes you don’t win the game, and you have to be prepared to lose with grace and dignity. You don’t always win the game. But it will be okay. I’m going to continue to fight every day. Everything stays the same and keeps moving.
Larry understood that time was coming to a close for him, but in front of his wife and daughter he resolved to fight each day until the game was over.
Five days after hospice was called Larry passed away. And Elaria skated each of those five days, she kept knocking it out of the park as he told her to. When Laura and Elaria returned to the house after those difficult days it was still full of Christmas and full of Larry’s memory.
Larry was a big presence. Alive and full and large. And that presence remains with Laura and Elaria. He loved his family in a big way and he had a special place in his heart for AWAA and the role they had in helping him become a father. This was well known by most people who met Larry.
Because of that special connection, the skating community at the Tedeschi’s rink put together an incredible benefit in Larry’s honor. Elaria, his precious daughter, skated to the song Rise Up; complete with her personal voice over regarding the things she learned from her father. Elaria’s strength and grace throughout this life-altering event has been incredible. The event reflected that strength and the things she learned from her father.
Today, as you read this story we hope that you feel that strength, handed down from father to daughter. Elaria continues to knock it out of the park in her father’s memory as she and her mother Laura learn to navigate life without Larry’s physical presence. But as we can already see, a man like Larry doesn’t fade away easily. His baseball metaphors and amazing example in his final days will carry them for a lifetime.
Today, you have to opportunity to give a gift in Larry Tedeschi’s memory. A gift that will support America World as they continue to connect forever families.
Thanks to a generous donor all gifts will be matched up to $3,000.