"Happy, Happier, Happiest"

Jennifer Ferdinandsen

Port Jervis, United States

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Artist's Description

I want to try and express today some of what many of you know or may not know about my brother Lanny.

As a brother, he was and still is an inspiration to me. He always encouraged and supported me in my decisions. I looked to him for guidance. He always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. And when I would do something stupid, which was quite frequently, he would just shake his head, but always with a smile.

I’ve been thinking lately how it seems everyone that Lanny met usually became his friend. And if you became his friend then he would become part of your family. There are so many people who loved him, so many lives he touched, before and after he got sick. He had the gift of laughter and an indescribable magnetism and warmth that anyone who knows him can attest to.

Sometime after he was sick, Lanny developed a new philosophy on life and I’d like to share it with you. He called it “Happy, Happier & Happiest”. He described it simply. He said to ask yourself what would make you happy. The object is to achieve what will make you happy and then ask yourself what will make you happier. Then, when you’ve achieved that, ask yourself what will make you happiest and pursue what will make you happiest. It sound so simple but it’s true.

Lanny not only showed remarkable courage and strength throughout his long battle with leukemia and, ultimately, his rare lung disease, he never questioned why it was happening to him, never felt sorry for himself and accepted each new obstacle that came his way as his health continued to deteriorate and his body, as he put it, “gave up on him”. One night he told me that at night before he would go to bed he would give thanks to God for all of the good things in his life. In his condition, he continued to see the positive side of things and that there were still people much worse off than he was. And always, he kept his sense of humor. Even after he was restricted to a hospital bed, unable to get up, had a trach surgically inserted in his throat, was hooked up to a ventilator and couldn’t talk: he STILL made me laugh.

There is so much that Lanny, with his infinite wisdom in his short life, has taught me and continues to teach me. I don’t understand, in my selfishness, why he had to go so soon, but I know he’ll always be with me, guiding me in the right direction.

I could go on and on about what a great friend, cousin, nephew, brother and son Lanny was, but most of you already know that. What I would like to stress is that life is short. Lanny wanted people to remember him with good and happy thoughts and always, laughter. He loved life and lived every day to the fullest, even from his hospital bed. He would want people to learn from him, if anything, to love life. Give thanks for all of the good things in your life, count your blessings, cherish each day. Happy, Happier and Happiest. Do you know what you need to do to be happy right now? Do it. That’s how simple it is, it really IS simple. In Lanny’s spirit of living and in his memory, do it now. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Jennifer Charton
January 21, 1999

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