Larry Hardin calls himself a man of faith.
From his earliest years, the Hamlet native has struggled with epilepsy — a brain disorder causing him to have repeated and often unannounced seizures. But today is a special day for Hardin — it marks the 20th year since his last seizure.
“I am not ashamed of the gospel,” The identification card in Hardin’s pocket reads, “I was an Epileptic. I have been healed.”
The 70-year-old said he is unable to remember when he had his first seizure.
“I had a lot of childhood diseases like whooping cough, Scarlett fever, chickenpox and measles,” Hardin said. “I’m pretty sure I started having seizures at 1 or 2 years of age as a result of fever from one of those things.
“Mama wouldn’t tell me. Every time I’d ask her, she’d say ‘I don’t want to talk about it.’ Really, I believe Mama didn’t tell me because the world thinks if you have epilepsy, you’re crazy — and that’s just not true.”
As a child, Hardin said he had as many as two to three seizures a week.
“There was really no way to prepare,” he said. “They didn’t have medicine for them back in the fifties and sixties. It’s just something you had to deal with. You could wake up and say ‘I wonder when I’ll have a seizure today … but I didn’t look at it that way. I would say, today’s another day the Lord has made, and I must be happy and glad in it — so I would go and do the best I could, and if I had one I had one — and if I didn’t, that’s really good. I just went on enjoying my life.”
Carroll Garner, fellow classmate and Hamlet native, said he was in school with Hardin all the way through 12th grade.
“The first seizure I can remember him having, that I recall, was around the 4th grade,” Garner said of Hardin. “We were shooting marbles and just all of a sudden, he had one. It scared us — I reckon we were around 10 years old. We didn’t know what had happened to Larry.
“After we found out, we just became accustomed to it,” he continued. “It didn’t scare us like it did the first time.”
Hardin said the condition stuck with him throughout high school and into the business world.
“I graduated from Hamlet High School in 1960,” Hardin said. “I had so many questions in my mind — who’s going to hire an epileptic? Who’s going to marry an epileptic? What’s the future for me?”
He attributes his faith as the driving force in his life.
“All I could do was take the Lord with me and do the best I could,” Hardin said. “I asked the Lord to lead me to where I should go. I knew that in a place like Richmond County, which is mostly country, you don’t have public transportation. You can’t really make a living there unless you have a drivers license. I had one drivers license but never did get another one. I tried and passed the test three or four times, but the doctors always turned me down. I always got a letter that I’d been refused for medical reasons.”
Hardin said he was led to Charlotte, where he was soon employed by a man who claimed that he would hire Hardin because of his epilepsy.
“He told me that in the Army, he had 15 men under him,” Hardin said. “Half of them were epileptics. He said he got more work out of those epileptics than he did the others. He told me that they had something to prove — to him, to themselves, to their fellow man.”
Years later, Hardin would meet his first wife — Margie Whitfield — at a square in Charlotte. They married in 1967 and had one child, Douglas Samuel Hardin, on Sept. 4, 1970.
“I thought epilepsy was a bad thing, but then Margie found out she had Multiple Sclerosis on Mother’s Day of ‘72 … ,” Hardin said. “It was a painful thing all the time for her … My wife was bed-ridden for the last several years of her life.”
Margie passed in June of 1995, and Hardin said he remembers her as an inspiration to all people.
Hardin later married a woman by the name of Evelyn Greenhill — who happened to be Margie’s roommate in Charlotte when Hardin first met her.
“I told God that if He wanted me to have a second wife like Job, then He would have to put that person in my path,” Hardin wrote in his personal testimony. A short time later, he began receiving letters from Evelyn. The two later married, and currently reside in Dobson.
Throughout his life, Hardin continued to struggle with seizures, sometimes frequent, but other times few and far between.
“I had my last seizure on Sept. 28, 1992,” he said. “I was in the jury pool that week, and right after I came back from lunch, I had it — and that’s the last one I’ve had since.”
Eventually, he said, he stopped taking medication for the seizures.
“There are a lot of people that think if you have epilepsy, you’ll never get over it, and that’s not true,” Hardin said. “I am healed of it, and it all comes down to faith. There’s no doubt about it.
“I felt like I had to overcome the world from the start because of the world thinking epileptics were crazy, and I knew I wasn’t crazy,” he said. “That’s a myth that people have about epilepsy. What I’m hoping is that, with the Lord’s help, my testimony can help people realize that if you take the Lord with you every day, He will be right beside you all the way.”
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.