|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:
The entire anthology of this great man can be found at:
Thank you, Gerald, for everything
John the 23 rd Sarah Slean