When I met Larry Shadid, back n high school, he was a 5’-4” skinny kid who wanted to be a gym teacher. Though still an avid sports fan, that dream never materialized. Instead Larry graduated from University of Oklahoma, OU Medical School, completed his residency in psychiatry and child psychiatry in Denver as well as psychoanalytic training there. In the 1980’s he was a prominent child psychiatrist at Timberlawn Hospital in Dallas looking forward to a career shaping young people’s identities. Some youthful dreams just never pan out.
Deinstitutionalization changed things. Larry left Timberlawn in the early 1990’s and established a private pay practice steeped in talk-therapy, twelve patients a day, four and a half days a week; a model few psychiatrists follow these days, but that Larry finds rewarding. He’s listened to three generations of Dallas’ most prominent families. “I have patients for years. They come more often in times of stress, divorce and death. We go through life together. I do a lot of wedding therapy. Weddings are the most important events in our society.”
Weddings are much on Larry’s mind these days, as he got married to his second wife, Cecilia, only four days before my visit. Their life is a generational blur of newlywed and middle age concerns. The house they bought together in August has the mash-up decor of two single people mixing stuff and a room full of unpacked boxes, yet next week they’re expecting their second grandchild.
Cecilia, a striking woman of Mexican / Costa Rican heritage, is also a therapist, though her practice better reflects the complications most practitioners face these days. Cecilia sees only four or five patients a day, most Spanish speaking, most with insurance parameters. “I couldn’t see patients one after another the way Larry does; it’s too exhausting for me.”
Cecilia did not have any children from her first marriage; Larry has a girl and two boys, now in their twenties. Both of his sons went through difficult periods of addiction, which eventually straightened out after they faced stiff penalties and some jail time. “Drugs are the devil. For ten year I had to divorce my son emotionally until he went to prison, found Jesus, and now we have a great relationship.” Larry’s daughter has travelled an easier path. “When your daughter marries a solid guy, you don’t worry, and my daughter married a great guy.”
Since our conversation seemed to circle back to marriage again and again, I asked Cecilia and Larry their opinion about the trend for people to marry later, as a capstone event after their professional lives thrived, rather than younger, building their life as a couple. Cecilia’s perspective surprised me. “We don’t see that trend in the South. Here, marriage, often early marriage, is the common path.”
Larry laughed and added, “I don’t just talk with people about marriage. We also talk about dogs. You wouldn’t believe how many hours a week I talk about people’s dogs.” The sports fanatic made a telling analogy about our society’s devotion to dogs. “Ray Rice drags his wife from an elevator and gets suspended for two games. Adrian Peterson takes a switch to his child and gets suspended for eight games. Michael Vick tortures dogs and goes to prison for a year and a half.” We cherish the unconditional love that dogs provide.
How will we live tomorrow?
“Hopefully we’ll live with more compassion for others and ourselves.” – Cecilia
“Our children will be the first generation who will not prosper more than their parents. Since they won’t have greater prosperity they will have two important questions:
- Will I love what I do?
- Who will I marry?
Before Friday I loved what I did. Now I’m married to someone really good, which makes it all better.” – Larry