Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dinner with Frank

As we travel through this life, there are a few people who make real impressions on our lives. These are the souls who leave an imprint on us, leave us feeling hopeful about the future, and gracing us with humor, love, and a simple charm. People such as this are rare, and when we find them, life is sweeter for having been in their presence.

For the past 15 years or so, I have known a good and gracious man named Frank. Frank is much of the kind of man I want to be "when I grow up" I tell myself. Frank grew up in the eastern US, moved to Southern California just after World War II, settled down, and started a family with his sweet wife Jane. They have had children and grandchildren, seen births and deaths, joy and heartbreak. Frank grew up in a Jewish home, and came to accept Christ as a young married father here in Los Angeles. He has been very involved in the life of our church for more than 30 years. Frank and Jane's life together has been a blessing to those around them.

Frank is one of the coolest older guys I have known. About 15 years ago, there was an active and fun young couples group at our church. Several folks from this class have ended up in the ministry over the years, making career changes to follow Christ. Frank was a mentor and friend to many of the guys in this class. However, Frank's mentoring sometimes took a different form - poker night. Frank often organized poker night for the younger guys. We all love Frank.

Recently, my friend Frank was diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Frank is 80 years old, but is the youngest 80 year old I have ever known. I swear he looks 65, and I suspect this is the result of Grace upon his life. Although his body is beginning to give way and he cannot walk anymore, his sense of humor is completely intact. He gets around these days via an electric wheelchair.

Last night our family made him dinner at his home, and afterward, Frank and I had a brief moment together in the dark on his patio under the stars. I asked Frank how he was doing, and how he was feeling. "You know, some days are better than others. Sometimes I get down, but you know, the Lord gives me great peace." Knowing Frank as I do, I know he meant that; he has never been one to spout Christian platitudes. Great peace. What a sweet gift. Come to think of it, that is what Frank is to me - a sweet gift.
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