This last year has been very difficult for me. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about my father, Larry Grathwohl. I still wake up most days feeling as though July 18th, 2013 was all a horrible nightmare. My name is Lindsay Danae Grathwohl, and Larry was my not only my father, but my best friend & hero.
On the morning of July 18th, 2013 I woke up at 3am like I normally do for work everyday. It was a Thursday, so I was looking forward to the weekend. I started my morning as I usually do by letting the dogs out into the backyard to go to the bathroom. On this morning, while the dogs were doing their thing, I was checking both my cell phone and home phone to see if my dad had called me back. I had been trying to get a hold of him since Tuesday the 16th, and had left him multiple messages on his home answering machine as well as his cell phone voicemail. I had also sent him multiple text messages so I figured he would have responded by now because he ALWAYS called me back. Plus I had had complications with my pregnancy, and I was in my eighth month so dad was worried and it wasn’t like him to not call, or at least call me back. Looking back at this now, I knew in my heart this was bad but I decided to call him anyways. It was 3am in California where I was, but 6am where dad was, and he was usually up by then. I called his home, then his cell, leaving messages on both numbers, then went about my morning routine so I could be out of my house by 4:15am and on the road.
I got to work about 15 minutes early that morning so I tried calling all of dad’s numbers and texting him again, with no response. I waited again until about 6:15am and tried calling dad again telling him in my messages how worried I am and to please text or call me ASAP. I kept my mind on work but all the while I had this terrible feeling. I kept telling myself not to worry, and that dad will call soon. At about 9:30am my boss came to my desk and asked me to go with her to the mail room downstairs to help out, and to bring my purse. My heart dropped. In my mind I knew that either I was being fired, or something was terribly wrong. As my boss and I were walking to the elevator, I told her I was nervous and she said “I know you are Lindsay”. When we got downstairs and the elevator door opened, I saw my fiancé Brian. He didn’t have to say one word. He just looked at me and shook his head and I remember saying “not my daddy, not my daddy”. Brian put his arm around me and proceeded to walk me out of the courtyard. I collapsed while crying and yelling “no, no, not my daddy”. It was the worst day of my life. That day, and those moments are forever with me. I couldn’t believe my dad was really gone.
The week of dad’s funeral was a fog. I felt like I was on autopilot just going through the motions of what needed to be done. I kept thinking that this can’t be the way dad’s life ended. How could such a wonderful man who did so many great things for his family & country have passed away alone and it seemed that not many people cared. I was angry. Angry that my father put himself on the line for Americans and this was what his ending was. To die alone in a tiny condo. I felt blessed that dad was able to see his book, Bringing Down America, re-released just a couple months before he passed. He worked so hard trying to get it re-released and for years nobody was interested in helping him until he crossed paths with Tina Trent.
Today is a day we have asked people to remember Larry Grathwohl. You will be able to read many articles about his time in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, his days as an FBI informant in the Weather Underground, and the work he did with USA Survival (Cliff Kincaid) in trying to bring justice for victims of Weather Underground terrorism ( Brian McDonnell who was killed in February of 1970 at the Park Police station in San Francisco, CA ). I am his youngest daughter, and even though I can provide details of all of the wonderful things my father did while he was alive, I want you to hear about Larry Grathwohl the father, husband, friend, grandfather & son. Yes, his mother and my grandma is alive and well (my dad and I call her “maw”) and also suffered through the heartache of having to bury her eldest child as well as accept an American flag from a servicewoman on behalf of the President of the United States. I sat beside her as it was handed to her. My father always said ”no parent should ever have to bury their child.”
My father and I were very close. We spoke on the phone at least once a week and our conversations were always at least an hour long. I live in California, and he lived in Ohio so it wasn’t like I could just drive to see him whenever I wanted. I was lucky because when he began working with Cliff Kincaid, he made several trips to the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, so I was able to spend time with him and also help out with projects and speaking events he had. He was a hard worker, but always made sure his trips here were long enough to also spend time with me, my son Brendan, my fiancé, and my mother. Even though my parents had been divorced since I was 18, they spent time together and they had been planning on getting remarried sometime after I had my baby who was due in late September. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited my dad was over this baby. My dad insisted from the first time I told him I was pregnant that I was having a girl. Up until the birth of my daughter, he had 3 grandsons. My nephew Lance is the oldest, my other nephew Michael is the second grandchild, and my son Brendan was the youngest. Dad couldn’t stop talking about having a granddaughter. She was born two months after dad passed away. My dad never knew this because it wasn’t announced until after he passed away, but in December of 2013, my nephew Michael became a father of a little girl, so if dad were alive today he would be a great grandpa.
My dad loved his family very much. He also loved his country very much. Dad was a very humble man. He did so much yet always felt as if he had to do it because it was “the right thing to do.” In my eyes, he is a true hero. I miss him very much. I still remember the last time I saw him. I took him to San Francisco airport so he could fly home to Cincinnati after the Christmas holiday. It became a kind of ritual for us. I would park the car and walk into the airport with him to make sure everything went as planned. We would always hug before he got in the security line and I would cry. I always stayed and watched him get through security and when he was finished putting his shoes back on he would look for me and wave good-bye. I will always remember that hug we shared that day. I miss his hugs.
I promised my father in many conversations we had that if something were to ever happen to him that I would make sure his story be told. I will admit that I have been in grieving and it’s been difficult to follow through but I can hear my father’s voice telling me to get off my butt and get to work. My father would want nothing more than for us to continue moving forward with the work he was doing. I will keep my promise.
Larry Grathwohl is survived by his loving family: Mary Rickard (mother); Lee, Mary Jo, Joe, Teresa, Sean (brothers & sisters); Sandi Grathwohl (my mother & the love of Larry’s life); Denise, Lindsay & Lisa (daughters); Lance, Michael, Brendan & Liberty (grandchildren); Amber Leigh (great grandchild).
I want to take a moment just to thank everyone for their love and support they have given to me and my family this past year. It means a lot to all of us and we are grateful. It is truly awesome that my father touched so many peoples lives, and I hope that together we can get his story out to the many people who have not heard it.