Keeping Dad Independent: Meet Scott and Larry

The last thing Larry Laronge remembers seeing was the surgical table as he rolled onto it from the gurney. When he woke up from quadruple bypass surgery seven days later, he was completely blind from an anesthesia complication. His son, Scott, immediately moved from Seattle to California to help, even helping his dad continue coaching golf, something Larry started when Scott was on the golf team in high school.

This time, Scott was coaching Larry off the green. Larry had only been blind for six months when Scott convinced him to join our Senior IMPACT Project retreat.

“I have eyes that can see, but no transmittal capabilities through my optic nerves,” Larry said. “It was very challenging because I didn’t know how to do much.”

Scott credits Society for the Blind for helping his dad maintain his independence, something fiercely important to the retired U.S. Air Force colonel.

“Once a colonel, always a colonel,” Scott said, laughing. “Dad’s never been someone who thrives on dependence. Any help he gets that supports his independence is gold.”

Scott especially noticed the difference technology made in his father’s life as Society for the Blind began introducing Larry to iPhones, email, screen readers and more.

“Dad relies on the written word; it’s how he synthesizes information,” Scott said. “So it’s a big deal to have Jaws read him a news article in the Bee.”

“I use the Internet now more than ever before,” Larry said. “I wasn’t a big computer user before, but I like it because of the connectivity. It’s my access to the outside world, much like a teenager with a cell phone.”

Scott now lives in the Bay Area with his wife, but he comes back to visit his dad in Citrus Heights three out of four weekends each month or brings his dad to town on the train. He donates to Society for the Blind every month and even donated tactile board games for the holidays.

“I think it’s important to support programs that have helped my family,” Scott said. “Dad still thinks things should be done a certain way and doesn’t always listen to what I say. But it’s best if people start working with Society for the Blind as early as they can and that everyone in the family is involved.”

Larry agrees that help early on made a big difference.

“Whether people lose their eyesight suddenly or gradually, they need to start picking up training and assistance as early as possible,” Larry said. “And whomever is helping to care for them should be involved in that activity so they have empathy for what’s going on. I’ve been very fortunate that we have only one hardheaded kid, and we still love each other in the same odd way. I’ve had friends at Society for the Blind tell me I’m lucky to have such a close relationship with my son.”