By Rose Kaplan, "virtual intern:" It’s November. There’s a cool, crisp feel to the air, and the sound of crunching leaves underfoot., It means that Thanksgiving is right around the...
On March 21st, I had the chance to spend about an hour with Brad Larsen who at that point had an advanced brain tumor. A good portion of this is what I wrote as soon as I got home from seeing Brad.
It’s kind of strange when the best part of your day is spent with someone who is dying, or as he called it “circling the drain”. He said that he liked that better than the word dying.
I have to honor that.
I wasn’t sure exactly what Brad and I would talk about because I have not spent much time with someone in their last days on earth but wanted to connect anyway. We know each other because Brad became vegan about 10 years ago and connected with me, and my teaching. He got me my consulting job at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Rosa (where I had worked previously) where I had the privilege of transforming the cafeteria menu to include vegan options at least a few days a week. Brad worked as a nurse anesthesiologist at Kaiser and believed that they needed to stand behind their motto, Thrive, and serve better food. In his estimation I was the woman to make that happen.
So as Brad and I spoke on my last visit with him, on his literal “death bed”, Brad told me that he came to the realization that he’s been self-righteous about being vegan. That he now realized that he could have softened his approach and it might have been better. He said that he can only see that now.
I explained that my approach has been inclusive: come along with me on my journey, my adventure and take what you want and leave the rest (possibly the only part of AA that works for me).
I explained that my motto is “Things always work out, they just don’t always work out the way that you expected”. He didn’t seem at all surprised.
I was surprised at how compassionate I felt talking to Brad and how sad I felt upon leaving. I asked if I could give him a kiss and I did. He told me that he’d probably be there another week or two. I explained that I was leaving the country and I hoped that I could come back to see him. And I did hope that. (I was unfortunately too busy upon my return to the US to go visit but sent many positive thoughts Brad’s way. Brad Larsen passed away peacefully on April 7th, 2013.)
I also promised that I would share his thoughts on being a “self-righteous” vegan. Brad advises against it. He thinks that if you show people good food, they might just come along with you. I certainly hope that is true.
The interesting part is that in Brad’s work with Compassionate Living Outreach, trips to Animal Rights conferences and animal sanctuaries, I am sure that Brad touched and affected hundreds, if not thousands, of people and he helped them make a transition to a vegan diet. Brad videotaped my first You Tube videos showing people how to pressure cook beans. Brad became an avid pressure cooker user and advocate.
I never viewed him as self-righteous but he obviously saw himself that way. So next time you feel yourself getting on a “high horse”, think about Brad and what he had to share.
I hope that you will share your thoughts about this by commenting below.
Brad was a kind, caring and compassionate person. He was a founder of the group Compassion Living Outreach. If you would like to donate money to the organization, here is a link http://compassionatelivingoutreach.org/contact.htm#Membership.