Dr. Mayo photographed by Larry Stanton, about 1980

Dr. Mayo photographed by Larry Stanton, about 1980

Dr. Julia A. Mayo

Larry Stanton Painting and Drawing, Twelvetrees Press, 1986

 

Although there are many who knew Larry far longer than I, few knew him better.  As his psychotherapist, we shared his dreams, his fears, his hopes, his past, present, and projected future.  Mondays – 4 P.M.  That was Larry’s hour.  Larry would arrive with hands full, newspaper, 2 cups of coffee – both for him unless I wanted one.  He refused to drink the coffee I made in the office.  More than likely he had a sketch pad with him.  I saw sneakers before I saw Larry.  One sneakered foot with crumpled white sock, always white, followed by an angled leg, and then the rest of Larry, his hands full, pushed open the door.  He had a ritual in getting started, a ritual which in no way interfered with a steady stream of talk.  He would first deposit both coffee cups on the table with a smile and a “sure you don’t want one?”  Newspaper, sketch pad, and any packages would fall from under his arm to the floor, where they lay until he took off his jacket.  Then everything on the floor would be retrieved, jacket folded and placed in a pile on the sofa.  After sitting , he would stand again to pull a folder paper from his hip pocket with the notation, “Dreams.”  Larry was the only person I knew who could slurp coffee, chew a handful of peanuts, and talk at the same time.  To my usual “really Larry” expression always came in retort, “Really, Dr. Mayo, now, now, now!!”

Over the several years I saw him, Larry was beset by problems in virtually every sphere of his life.  He suffered mood swings and episodes of depression and elation, which he self-medicated with alcohol.  There was anguish over the death of his mother, the person he felt loved and understood him best.  Larry had great conflict about his mother and much time was spent in resolving issues of ambivalence and guilt.  The loss of her before he could “prove” himself to her precipitated a severe emotional crisis which brought him to the hospital twice.

The image Larry had of himself and the image he wanted to achieve was often at odds with the image he believed his family desired for him.  His siblings were straight, successful, polished, stable, corporate image WASPS.  Larry was gay, not gainfully employed, and often unstable.  What he had going for him was talent, ambition, sensitivity, charm, and a friend, Arthur Lambert.  Arthur was the steady mentor behind the scenes who nourished Larry, believed in him, and supported him.  It was Arthur who made it possible for Larry to paint .  .  .  .  .

Larry loved life so very much. [ In the last years of his life] he lived with renewed zest and purpose.  It was his dream to repay Arthur’s love, trust, and faith by becoming a [respected] artist.  What an ironic twist of fate caused his defeat -  He won the battle for his mind, his spirit, his creativity.  It was his body that did him in.  Larry did not want to die , [but]  I . . . . say to him and to those who cared, nothing dies that is remembered.