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Giving the gift we came to give

We come into the world with a unique gift to give. And how well Vincent C. LaGuardia Jr., 68-year-old conductor of the Arapahoe Philharmonic Orchestra in Denver, Colorado, gave his gift.

JoAnn and I live in Arapahoe County, and have often been to concerts put on by the Philharmonic. How much we have enjoyed the very special talents and passion of Vincent LaGuardia. We were not present, however, last Friday when LaGuardia died suddenly of a heart attack while conducting the first piece of the evening.

As the Denver Post reported, Tracy, LaGuardia’s wife, lead violinist in the orchestra, looked up just as her 68-year-old husband leaned forward and collapsed on the stage at Mission Hills Church in Littleton. Doctors in the audience were unable to revive him.

It was not the first heart attack LaGuardia had suffered. In 1997, he had a heart attack while he was leading a youth orchestra. When Tracy rushed to her husband’s side he looked at her and said, with a peaceful look on his face, “I think this might be it. I love you.”

The surgeon’s warning

LaGuardia survived that particular event. But his heart surgeon told him that the next time he had a heart attack, he would likely be dead before he hit the floor. Thereafter, the Post reported, “Tracy LaGuardia greeted each concert with trepidation.”

That was particularly the case this past week, when both she and her husband had the flu. LaGuardia was in pain during the final rehearsal before Friday’s concert, but when Tracy told him he didn’t have to perform he said, “I haven’t missed a concert in 45 years and I’m not going to start now.”

A tall, commanding presence

I can see LaGuardia in my mind’s eye right now. I see his tall, commanding presence as he led his orchestra, his devotion to his life’s purpose radiating through every gesture and glance, and I am so thankful for the beautiful music that he and his wife and his orchestra created together.

I am so thankful for the courage and persistence this brave man embodied. But most of all, I am thankful that his unconquerable spirit is untouched and unharmed by the drama surrounding his death — just as it was untouched and unchanged by the joy that surely greeted his birth.

So is it for you and me and each one of us.

I send love and greetings to all. As always, I’d love to share any input you may have on the above. If you enjoyed this post, please pass it on to a friend.

PS: Instead of a funeral, Tracy LaGuardia planned to organize a concert featuring some of her late husband’s favorite music by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi.

Picture credit:  kcbimal


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