Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Was Gerald Franz ?

Gerald and Jane Franz       Photo courtesy of John Wesley Smith


                             
I have been away from the computer for several weeks as I have stayed with my daughter helping her with her new baby, her juvenile diabetes, shopping, and care of her animals.  I am home long enough to take care of my horses and other animals and then I flit back again until she is better able to manage.  There is progress, but she needs rest and routine sufficient to control her blood sugars during a time of hormonal turmoil. I will also be starting my new job teaching college again soon.

       Yesterday afternoon,(on October 23rd) while I scrubbed out horse water buckets, mucked stalls, and measured out their grain, Gerald passed from this Earth to the next life.   I had the incredible good fortune to have phoned him two days before, and we had a very lengthy conversation, which I will always cherish.

         Some years ago, I became acquainted with Gerald when he appeared on a friend's blogroll.   He penned a blog called "The Last Robin" which were both musings of his life, and observations.   He was clearly an incredibly gifted writer, and quite a Biblical scholar, and teacher.   His eloquent writings however, were not the reason we became friends.  He periodically commented here on this blog, and was a good friend to me, and I know to others as well.   Who was Gerald Franz ?     To most observers he might have appeared as a widowed older man who spent the last couple of years in a nursing home while writing a poignant blog.   However, I don't think that's who he was.   I think Gerald was a true creature of light.   Most of us come to Earth in infancy as a creature of light who is all at once encased in a small human flesh suit.   Our knowledge of light and all that we know becomes deflected by the complexities of maintaining that suit.  We must eat, then we must endure other functions, and then we must sleep. As we move through life and we grow, we learn to manage sleeping and eating, but by then, the trappings of the world have seduced us.  In youth, our friends, our schools, our families all take us farther from being the creatures of light we were meant to be.  Our worlds give way to anxieties and for thoughts of perhaps not being good enough to stand beside the other "flesh suits".  Then as we venture into adulthood, where there may be losses and events we perceive as failures, we may fall farther and farther from the people we were meant to be on our journey, which is egregiously short.     Gerald did not let a stroke, the loss of his beloved wife, or his leukemia interfere with his being a creature of light.   He had an uncanny memory for the things you had told him.  Even though he recalled scripture better than almost anyone I've known, this did not motivate him to be judgmental.   He was wholly supportive.  He was also bright enough to follow what you were saying and anticipate the extension of what you were saying, along with its implications.

         He chose not to fight his leukemia, but to go home when the time came.  This always leaves nurses in a difficult position.  On the one hand, we must honor the wishes of human beings and be supportive, and on the other, we must wonder whether we have done a good enough job of explaining how far cancer treatments and treatments for leukemia have come, in order that each patient can make the most informed decision for themselves.   I remember Gerald telling me about one of his physicians who some time ago visited him and spent a great deal of time explaining the treatment options for Gerald's cancer.  Gerald listened and no doubt left an indelible print on the doctor.  When Gerald eloquently explained why he was choosing to take the natural course with regard to the illness, the doctor hugged him, no doubt impacted by Gerald's eloquence, bravery, and most of all, his golden faith.

         Gerald believed different things about Heaven than I do, and yet he never corrected my perceptions.  He knew that I am a child on a journey, and also that I might need to believe what I do, in order to make sense of what happened when I lost my youngest son at 12. Perhaps he thought there is still some time for me to grow and learn more.

          Gerald passed at 5:25pm Central Time yesterday, and did not wish a funeral. Today he was buried  with the least amount of fuss, as was consistent with his wishes.

         Should you wish to memorialize this wonderful man, you may consider a gift to his last stop while on Earth, which was:

        Hospice Compassus, 3050 I-70 Drive SE, Columbia, MO 65201.

He conveyed what a wonderful job they did for him, especially with regard to controlling his pain with sufficient skill to allow him to still be clear enough to continue to communicate via phone with his many friends.  I will always be most grateful for the conversation we had, just two days ago.
 
         My favorite recollection of Gerald's was the story of the "Library Cat".  It so epitomized his personality and generous spirit, and it also reminded me of something my own father might have done.


          I will remember this remarkable man and creature of light for many things, for the funny anecdotes, for the sad ones, and for a golden faith.  Gerald believed that those who accepted God would meet again but only upon the resurrection.    Once again, I need to be comforted by knowing that today, he will see God and his beloved bride Janie.  In the time which follows I imagine, or perhaps I hope that my beloved father and my son can meet Gerald and share stellar conversations.  It comforts me to think this.

If you wish to read some of the writings of a creature of light, then these are links to specific posts:


http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-library-cat.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2012/12/who-do-you-work-for.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2014/10/degrees-instead-of-knowledge.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2014/10/will-you-please-shine-light-over-here-i.html

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com/2009/12/no-more-death.html



The entire anthology of this great man can be found at:

http://thelastrobin.blogspot.com


Thank you,  Gerald,  for everything





The number 23 was significant to Gerald because scripturally he believed in symbolized change. I thought this song, written and performed by Sarah Slean was a lovely tribute:


John the 23 rd                                                                        Sarah Slean

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Takes More Lives than We Recognize




                  One of the things I have so clearly learned from Daniel, is that people can die without a prior medical history, and that sometimes,on autopsy, no actual cause can be found.  In these cases, a pathologist MD provides a presumptive diagnosis as a cause of death.  This was the case in Daniel's death, and it was also the case with the woman above.

                  Sarah Goldberg is a forty year old actress who is probably best known for her story line on "Seventh Heaven". On September 27th she was vacationing at her family's Wisconsin cabin and was working with her computer on her lap. She fell asleep and never woke up.  Her autopsy did not show a clear cause and so her passing falls within the category of those who are felt to be presumptive deaths from an arrhythmic (disturbed heart rhythm) cause.

                   Sarah had planned to study medicine but had a small part in the Julia Robert's film "My Best Friend's Wedding."  She went on to appear in many movies and television programs including Jurassic Park III, Judging Amy, Training Day, CSI, Without a Trace, and  House.   She was also known professionally as Sarah Danielle Madison.

                   She was a graduate of Amherst College and is said to have been a lovely person as well as a stellar athlete. She is highly intelligent and held a degree in Microbiology.  She had many interests while here on Earth and had an interest in alternative medicine.  May she understand all that captured her interests and imagination now.


                 We send our condolences to her family.


                                             
Sarah Goldberg as she will be remembered.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Daniel Becomes an Uncle

           
Nikolas     (Copyright J. Krehbiel)   In this particular picture, Nikolas resembles Daniel a bit at this age.




         I thought a lot about Daniel in the past couple of weeks.  Within the last couple of weeks, Daniel's only sister, who is a Type I (juvenile) diabetic gave birth to her first child.  It was a challenging pregnancy, labor and birth, and many times I found myself mulling over the unfairness of my having lost Daniel without warning, and then still contending with the known issues of Type I diabetes in my daughter, and Crohn's Disease in one of my other sons.  Both of them are now adults who have completed university.   Daniel's brother Matthew, who was a preemie is now grown,  well and at college.  Of course, life is never purported to be fair.  However, I don't think my daughter at any time was feeling unlucky.  At no time during her pregnancy did she express discontentment at the part Type I diabetes would play in it.  She maintained her blood sugars within the normal range using an insulin pump, as she has done since age 12.  (She got IDDM at age 9 and started the insulin pump at age 12)   Somehow, she was allowed to labor for almost three days and to deliver vaginally as she had wanted.  She and the baby were in the hospital for a bit more than a week afterward and I did private duty nursing for them for the entire time.   (Yes, Nana looks tired.)     I am so incredibly proud of her.  She kept uncommon grace,  focus and strength throughout the entire process.

             I heard echoes of Daniel throughout the experience.  It was a very different experience from my own rapid labor and delivery with Daniel, who was my last child, and yet I was still playing his birth in my mind.   This also occurred at the same major university medical center where Daniel's autopsy was initially performed and so Daniel slipped in an out of my thoughts while we were there.   When I stood in the early hours of the morning with his parents,  as my grandson was born, I imagined that both my father and Daniel were on both sides of me standing there, and there was just enough room in that space for that to have occurred !

             My grandson Nikolas shares Daniel's middle name, which was Nicholas, and although Nikolas is a shiny new soul, I could not help but notice a family resemblance.  The picture I have included of Nikolas could easily have passed as a picture of Daniel taken at birth, with about the same expression.

             Daniel and Dad, I know that if the veil between us is thin, and if you could have been there, you were. Congratulations Daniel, on being an uncle, and Dad, congrats on being a great grandfather. If Heaven lies over top of the Earth, then we really aren't that far from one another, in the bad times, or in the really good ones either.   I thank the rest of you for the thoughts and prayers through this challenging time for my daughter, Daniel's beloved sister.