Midwest Knit Girl

Archive for the ‘Frank’ Category

Picture taken July, 1995

On Sunday, February 21, 2010, we brought Frank home to begin hospice.  We knew he didn’t have much time to live and so we were going to do whatever we could to make the remainder of his life as comfortable as possible. The living room was set up in such a way that he had his picture window to enjoy the sunshine, the stereo so he could listen to music, a clock added to the wall so he knew the time, the phone by him…all the comforts he would need.

An amazing group of people were always around during the last five or six weeks before Frank died – Sean, Mike, Shona, Ruth, Lock, Lisa, Bob, Jim and Dale. Each of these individuals took huge amounts of time out of their lives to be there for Frank whenever he asked them to be. Or in some cases, demanded it. (Right, Sean? Can you say “MOA, now!”) From the time he was brought to the hospital on January 26th via ambulance to the day he died, February 28, at least two of those people in that group were with him all the time. Sean and Mike, for sure you were his main soldiers and had his back and he told you that – that was high praise as you well know; he certainly wasn’t one to give compliments lightly.

Tuesday, February 23, a massage therapist from hospice came over to be with Frank. I went into the kitchen to pay some bills and give them some privacy. As the therapist began the session Frank made a noise, sort of a grunt or ‘oof’ like sound. The therapist asked him if he was okay and he said yes. She asked if he would like to talk about it as sometimes people experience things at this point. He just said “Everything is going to be okay.”

I heard him say that and I knew exactly what he meant by it. We’d had long, long discussions on how I was going to survive financially, how I was going to take care of the house on my own, and how I was going to be emotionally when he was gone. I nearly cried when I heard him say that but I also knew that meant he had just made the first step in the direction he was headed, his new path, and his new ‘life’ so to speak.

As the week progressed and his health continued to decline I still held out hope that Ruth (who adored Frank as he adored her) would be able to be there with us before Frank passed. She was in NY at the time on business and I was reassured time and again by the nurse that Frank would hang on longer than he eventually did, so we didn’t push to have her come home. But obviously, the nurse couldn’t have known that Frank would slip away before Ruth could be here to say her own good bye. I personally think that although Frank loved Ruth, he didn’t want her to see him at the end. That wasn’t the image he wanted to leave her with.

Numerous friends and relatives visited throughout the week and that was so appreciated by Frank and me. But eventually I had to tell everyone that visits were going to be severely limited because he was becoming agitated easily, even with Sean or Mike and just me here.  I hated to do that but his comfort was an absolute priority. Even with my increasing his morphine dosages he still was fidgeting, I couldn’t stand to watch that with people here.

On the 27th we had a number of people over and if I remember correctly I cut that day short with visitors because he was more out of it than not. I needed to be with him to keep him calm and the less noise at that point the better he rested.

On Sunday, February 28, 2010, I put out a blog post around 10:00 am letting people know they now had to call before coming to see Frank. They could no longer just drop by. Sean and Mike were the exceptions and I also knew they would be there later in the day.

From the time I put out that post until just moments before he died, I knew something was happening. I honestly didn’t know what it was but I knew something had changed. The energy, for lack of a better term, was different in the house. I had to be in the same room with him, I needed to be, I physically couldn’t bring myself to leave his side. Even though he wasn’t responsive at the time I talked to him about the fact I loved all the trips we took together and how much fun they were, and how he was the love of my life, how it was a good thing we never went to bed angry at each other because it was so much more fun being happy, how I knew I was going to be okay and that he didn’t need to worry about me.

Sweet stuff.

Silly stuff.

Our stuff.

I told him I loved him and I kissed him, and hugged him the best I could without hurting him.

Later I was sitting next to the bed, just being quiet, touching his arm lightly. I knew then it was close. I felt it in my gut. He moved a bit and then took two calm breaths with a pause in between, just in and out, very slowly. And he was gone. After that and before I called anyone, I spent time with him, just me. No one else. It was my turn, my time. I wanted more time than nearly 15 years but you have to appreciate what you get, right? I held his hands, I patted the arm that was nearest to me. I kissed him, I hugged him and tidied the blankets around him. Then I started the calls beginning with Mike.

To all of those great people who were there for Frank and also for me back then – because I was watching the most important person in my life die before my very eyes, I thank you once again. I’ve said that before and I’ll repeat it time and again. You have supported and given me much comfort (including laughter!), then and still to this day. I truly feel so blessed because not many people are this fortunate to have the network of support I had during Frank’s illness and since his passing.

I know this phrase sounds so cliché but since Frank died I began a new chapter in my life and while at times there have been great challenges, there has also been joy and laughter, new experiences and new friends made. My family, Frank’s family, our mutual friends and my own friends – they have continued to be a part of my life and I am eternally grateful for that.

There is a place in my heart that is reserved solely for my love and memories of Frank, and it will remain there forever. No one can replace him and no one can be Frank Asher again. He was an experience of a lifetime, not perfect by any means but he was the most loyal individual I ever knew and if you were the same to him, you were blessed to be a part of that experience.

I love you, Frank. May you rest in peace.


Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops at all.

~~Emily Dickinson~~

Dearest Frank –

I hope you know somehow – wherever you are – that  I think about you daily, I miss you constantly, and that I love you still, all the way to infinity and beyond. Remember saying that to each other? Were we dorks or what? Well, it worked for us so who cares, right?

I don’t know why today has me thinking so much of you and the so many memories we shared. Maybe with fall having arrived it reminds me that the holidays are drawing near – you and I spent every Halloween, every Thanksgiving, every Christmas and every New Year’s together from 1995 – 2009.

What will this year be like without you? I can only hope that your spirit – which was big and still is I’m sure – will give me strength to make it through them. I want to enjoy them, I do. But I don’t know how without you here to enjoy them with me.

I love you, Teddy Bear.

Duluth - The Hubster

I held a party last Saturday in honor of my husband, Frank, who passed away February 28, 2010. The day was so hot and sticky but we all stuck it out. Did you catch that? Sticky? Stuck it out? Hmmm.

Anyway, the temp apparently hit 93 degrees but I’m sure with the humidity it was closer to feeling like 100. You couldn’t be outside and not start sweating within moments. There was air conditioning in the house and I had fans going in the car-port area, garage, back patio and the deck. Some people even braved playing badminton in the sweltering temps! Um, not me. I was wearing a dress. For those who know me, it’s been a very long time since I’ve done that but sometimes you have to go outside your comfort zone and roll with it. I rolled.

There were lots of treats – popcorn, sno-cones, bars, cookies, banana bread, chips and salsa, fruits and veggies, crackers and dip, and water, water, water, water!

We also had storms. Wow, big storms happening all around us. But the last of us stayed under the car-port enjoying the evening as long as we could since it wasn’t hitting us yet. We didn’t move until the rain started coming sideways. I don’t think we wanted the day to end. I didn’t.

My best guess is somewhere between 55-60 people strolled through throughout the day. I saw friends that I hadn’t hooked up with in years, lots of family including those that live out of state, many of the neighbors came, Frank’s awesome friends were here as were mine. All in all, it was one fine day.

Thank you to everyone who came, in spite of the weather we still had a grand time. I still say Frank was with us in the form of the one, single, solitary rose that bloomed on the bush out front. How could that not be him? There hadn’t been buds or flowers on that bush in weeks, yet on the day before the party there was a bud. Then the day of the party –  it bloomed. It was his rose bush, ergo, it was Frank.

I love you, Frank. Thank you for being such a big part of my life and letting me be part of yours. We had some special connection, you and I, that I’ve never had with anyone else. Wherever you are, I’m betting you’re rocking the casbah in a big way!!

And now for your viewing pleasure, a few pictures. I didn’t get photos of even an nth of the people who came, for that I apologize. I just sort of, kind of, got busy with the party and forgot. 🙂

Me, Lisa

Lisa and I

Ruth, Me

Ruth and I

Sean, Lock, Me, Ruth

Sean, Lock, Me, Ruth

My step-father, Kim, and JT

Kim and Jim

Carly, Brandon, Peggy, Michelle (and her little dog, too)

Sanko's

Ruth, Bonnie

Ruth and Bonnie

Glenn, Auntie, Uncle

Glenn, Uncle Don, Auntie Von

Kris, Kat, Me
Kris, Kat and Me

My brother, Brian, Mom, Me, my sister, Deb

Mom and her kids

Me, Michelle

My cousin Michelle and me

Brian, Mom

Brian and Mom

Leo (Bonnie’s husband)

Leo

Rose Bush With One Rose

One Rose

One, Single, Solitary Rose: AKA Frank

Frank's Rose

Which means I have time now to do some of the things I’ve been wanting to do, but couldn’t because I had to study instead. Like make my quilt using the fabrics I blogged about here.  Or work on the stained glass project that I cut the glass out for last fall (it’s a fish!). Or catch up on emails, reading, knitting. Oh man, knitting. I miss knitting.

I have a sock that I finished knitting last fall but don’t remember what size needles I used, because for some unknown reason the needles aren’t in the project bag with the single sock. Yarny Old Kim gave me the yarn as a gift that I blogged about here, and it’s beautiful – I’ll figure out the needle issue because I really want a pair, not a single sock, darn it.

I’m also going to finally start the sweater I bought the yarn for more than a year ago. I blogged about that here. Actually, there isn’t much info there other than the yarn picture itself, but the sweater will be a fair isle one. The good thing is that I’ve lost weight so I can make the smaller size – yeah!

The last five months have been quite stressful but now it’s time to try and relax a little and enjoy life for a time. But also during the last month and a half, some very cool and positive things have happened. As each event transpired, I would briefly wonder why. Seriously – I can’t figure out why these good things keep happening to me. I know we shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, but I don’t think I’ve done anything special to deserve these things. So I went to the bookstore last week and found a book that I think is helping me to understand what’s happening. Maybe what the author is talking about isn’t the real reason these things have been happening, but since I can’t prove it isn’t, I’m willing to keep reading the book to find out more.

The book I bought is called The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire by Deepak Chopra. As I’ve been reading the book I’ve come to realize that being more open and willing to try new things, no matter how hard, is so good for you. I’ve definitely become a stronger person emotionally over the past year and a half, and I’m no longer quite as shy as I used to be. In fact, I feel quite bold most of the time. I don’t know where that came from but it’s definitely there.

To this day, I still can’t believe I started a 40 credit program during one of the most stressful times of my life – I had just been laid off after 25 years at my job, my husband’s cancer had returned and he was considered terminal. But it was the right thing to do, I know it was. To this day I know I chose the right program, I feel it in my gut, and Frank always said he thought it was right too. Each time I would leave for school for a test, he would tell me to go to war and get that A! So I did.

Then this year at the end of February, he passed away and for the briefest moment I wanted to stop school, only a microsecond mind you, because it was so difficult to do my homework, go to school and also grieve for Frank. But I knew he would have been profoundly disappointed in me if I had quit, so I didn’t. To this day I have an A average for the program, so my perseverance has paid off. And by the way, lest one thinks community college is easy, you’re wrong. Especially when you aren’t willing to settle for less than an A.

Maybe I’ve developed some new-found determination over time. I don’t know. But what I do know, is that sometime last year I must have figured out that to sit back and let life rule me is not an option, I’m the one in charge.

Just watch me soar.

Sunday, April 25th, will be 8 weeks since Frank passed away. Sometimes it feels like it’s been longer than that and other times, much shorter. Maybe it’s because I’ve kept busy with school, a surgery (I’m fine), an internship and hanging with friends and family since then.

Last Saturday I had a party with a special group of people to honor Frank. We had picnic food, a campfire, a quiz with prizes and just all around grand fun. I bought some shot glasses with an up north scene on them and had Frank’s name and the date he passed away imprinted on them. So we all toasted him at the campfire with them – I had scotch because it seemed the right thing to do as that was what two of Frank’s best friends and I had the day he passed away, in the living room while saying good-bye.

I never did share here much of that day and some parts of it will always remain private. It’s interesting because I had put out a post on the blog at 10:06 am that day, Feb 28th, explaining that I was going to be restricting visitors because he seemed so agitated, and then he passed away not much later the same day.

From the time I put out that post until just moments before he died, I knew something was happening. I honestly didn’t know what it was but I knew something had changed. The energy, for lack of a better term, was different in the house. I had to be in the same room with him, I needed to be, I physically couldn’t bring myself to leave his side. Even though he wasn’t responsive at the time I talked to him about the fact I loved all the trips we took together and how much fun they were, and how he was the love of my life, how it was a good thing we never went to bed angry at each other because it was so much more fun being happy, how I knew I was going to be okay and that he didn’t need to worry about me. Sweet stuff. Silly stuff. Our stuff. I told him I loved him and I kissed him, and hugged him the best I could without hurting him.

Later I was sitting next to the bed, just being quiet, touching his arm lightly. I knew then it was close. I felt it in my gut. He moved a bit and then took two calm breaths with a pause in between, just in and out, very slowly. And he was gone. After that and before I called anyone, I spent time with him, just me. No one else. It was my turn, my time. I wanted more time than nearly 15 years but you have to appreciate what you get, right? I held his hands, I patted the arm that was nearest to me. I kissed him, I hugged him and tidied the blankets around him. Then I started the calls.

Later that day two of his friends were here with me and we stood around the bed and toasted him with shots of scotch, because that’s what Frank would have wanted. Yes, it was sad. Yes, it sucked in the worst way imaginable to even do that because it signified the end of his life here as we know it, but we had to honor what we thought would be his wishes. Frank was a big presence, a free spirit who spoke his mind and loved those who were true, and he will be remembered that way always. If anyone remembers him as anything else, you didn’t know the same person. I know he is somewhere enjoying the next part of his journey, pain-free, strong and happy. I wish he were here doing that but I have come to accept that isn’t possible so I need to more forward with my life. To my next journey.

I wasn’t going to share even this much on the blog but I just spent the past week doing my 40 hour internship at the same clinic Frank received his cancer treatments at. I wasn’t sure if it was a smart idea going there for the internship but it turns out it was definitely the right thing to do. There wasn’t one single person I met or worked with who didn’t truly care about the patients – the level of compassion and caring is simply admirable. I applaud the entire staff sincerely for what they do – from the front desk to the switchboard, the schedulers, financial counseling, the nurses, the doctors…everyone really, truly has empathy for those coming to the clinic.

They welcomed me with open arms and those who knew Frank, I offered a memorial bookmark to them that I had made for his service. He is now all over that clinic with those bookmarks, he’s grinning from ear to ear in the picture on it – and likely grinning from wherever he is now because even when he was at his crabbiest, someone always got him to smile when he was there. Believe me, I heard the stories and they were lovely. For that, I thank the staff from the bottom of my heart for not only helping make his day, but sharing those stories with me last week. To the staff – I will be visiting sometime this summer and I’ll bring the salsa I promised all of you. 🙂

I know now doing my internship there was the right thing to do because it confirmed for me that I’m moving into the right field for the next part of my life’s journey. I may not be able to work at that clinic but I know what aspect of the Medical Office Assistant role I want to do now, actually – it’s probably really not a true aspect of it but it’s definitely related. And it’s important.

I don’t know when it happened but the majority of the anger I had about losing Frank has dissipated, it’s been replaced with a quiet resolution to move forward and begin my new life, and with the knowledge that it’s okay to do so. But I will do it without forgetting Frank – he is permanently in my heart.

I wrote a eulogy for Frank expecting to be able to read it at the service. Nope. No way. Not a chance. Just reading made me choke up so I asked Reverend Jack to do it for me. He did a beautiful job. Here it is.

I made note in Frank’s obituary that he had beat the odds against kidney cancer. That may have raised an eyebrow or two because if he beat it, why isn’t he here?

Frank beat the odds because only 5% of those diagnosed with advanced kidney cancer make it 5 years. Frank’s original diagnosis was made in March 2005 so that means in my mind, it was close enough to say he beat the odds.

He is part of that privileged 5%.

I am most proud of Frank’s unwavering determination and upbeat attitude throughout his cancer journey. Not once did he give up or admit defeat. He literally fought the cancer to the very end.

I don’t know if I could have fought as hard as he did, and with jokes no less.

One of the things Frank started to do over the past few weeks or so as his illness advanced, was signal to us that he needed more time to process an answer to a question. To do this he would raise one finger, smile and then say “I’m still here.”

I firmly believe that Frank is still here with us in spirit and always will be. He is here in our hearts as well. I think Dr. Suess had it right when he said “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

I think Frank would have appreciated that quote because he was all about enjoying life to its fullest.

I still have a lot crying to do but I also have so many, many happy memories that I can think about to help me heal through this next part of my own life journey. Just remembering his smile makes my heart flutter and makes me happy – I guess that’s what true love must really be if something as simple as his smile can touch me that way.

I will love Frank to my dying day – he was my first true love. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have had him in my life for nearly 15 years. He was one of the most well-read people I’ve ever known, always searching for knowledge, always looking for answers.

In fact, I can just see him at the pearly gates telling St. Peter – “Hold on, I’m not quite ready – I have another question for you.”

I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to Frank’s friends for their unending support and love for him, especially during the last month or so while he was in the hospital and then at Presbyterian Homes and finally, at home.

You were all there for him, night and day, without question, even if that meant yet another spur of the moment trip to the Mall of America, wheelchair transfer and all.

You have all also been there for me. I could not have gotten through this time without you. We have all talked about Frank’s loyalty to his friends – you are all just as loyal. For that I love and thank you.

I feel so lucky to have been a part of Frank’s life and of course, part of his family. Thank you for sharing him with me.

Cheers to you, Frank, my love. May you find peace and happiness wherever you are.


Down, Stella!

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