Thursday, July 29, 2010

YOU:create... Week 3

Mom and Dad came to visit me on the Sunday before he died.

And I will never be able to tell you how grateful I am for that.

Usually they would come to visit on a Sunday, we would eat lunch and have a lazy afternoon of watching movies. The last few times they came we got in the habit of Dad and I propping ourselves up in my bed, with mom in the gold corduroy chair that had been in their home since I was a little girl. It was cozy and comfortable and one of my favorite ways to spend the day.

That Sunday, Mom asked what I thought I could eat and I told her I wanted to learn how to make her special potato salad... the one that never had a recipe. So she whipped up a batch and paid attention in order to estimate measurements, and we had potato salad with ham and great conversation. We talked about their trip to stay with my brother Steve’s kids, and the other grandkids’ games they had attended. They told me about a friend of our family who had suffered a heart attack while driving, and we were all so grateful that he was not only alive but doing very well. On the way home they wanted to visit another friend who was in the hospital as she and her husband were in a motorcycle accident.

We talked about how fleeting life can be, the miracles of modern medicine and the grace of God’s protection. Looking back on it now, I am crying at the irony and still so grateful for the grace of God’s protection. His protection of my Dad in the way he was honored with a peaceful death while happy, content and doing what he loved most... being on the lake and enjoying the people he loved.

It doesn’t make the pain any less, to be honest, but I am grateful nonetheless.

The three of us went into my room, assumed our positions, but never got around to the movie. Instead we talked about ways to redecorate my room, what colors to paint the walls, and if I should paint some of my furniture white. Since Dad has been helping Mom more in her interior design store, he really seemed to have gained some good opinions about these things... but it still made me laugh a little inside to hear him voice them. :)

I had given Mom and Dad my old camera and Mom has become a pro at whipping out the camera so I can see all that happens now that I’m not around. So, Dad brought my computer into bed with us and I downloaded all the photos so he could show me all the landscaping work he had done. He has loved working on the yard, and said that his little garden was his way of still being a bit of a “farmer” without the field.

I told him I should use these photos as his YOU:create project, and he got a little grin and shrugged. Which is how I knew he kind of liked the idea. Then he showed me the photos Mom had taken of him repainting some old lawn furniture for my Great Aunt Camilla and I said, “THESE are the photos I’ll use for YOU:create!” He was grinning less at that idea and said that maybe he should have put a shirt on, but he let me go with it anyway.

He’d do about anything to make me happy.

I have to tell you, out of all the memories, out of all the photos, these are the ones that are hardest for me. These are the ones he told me in detail mere days before his death. These are the ones where I can still hear his voice telling me what a deal he got on the tall grass at Bomgaar’s, and how to use Round-Up on the grass you want to plant in rather than till it under so you don’t have to worry about grass growing back in later. I can hear him explaining to me about the dark mulch that looks like dirt, and how he was so happy to be able to do something for Aunt Camilla. How he always thought it was better to fix what you have rather than look for something new. How it was important to her and that made it important to him.

I can still feel his shoulder when I rested my head on it, I can still feel his hand as we compared his dark skin to my light. I can hear his voice in these photos, and I miss him.

So, here are some of the photos of Dad’s YOU:create projects, but the one project I'm most grateful for is the one he created by loving me through my life.









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I’d love to see what you all have been up to the last few weeks... Just click below and follow the instructions to link to your project. When it asks you to choose the web or a file for your thumbnail, choose web. Then it will take you to a list of the images on the page you are linking to and you’ll be able to choose a photo to represent your project.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Have a Date with Fancy

I happen to think Flip cameras are the best things ever invented.

Why, you ask?

Because last Christmas, my friend Shannon decided that it would be an integral part of my gift from her and her family. My friend Shannon, who I met through this blog. Who became like a sister to me. Who came into my life, let me into hers, and has let me claim residence in her family ever since. Yep. My friend Shannon gave me the best Christmas present ever.

She made me a part of the every day life of her family.


Shan, her husband Jason, and daughters Hannah and Eliana, take me with them every day. They film birthday dinners and dance practices and rousing games on the Wii. They take me with them to Sonic and Home Depot and 4th of July fireworks displays. Hannah plays me the piano and Eliana reads to me, they include me in their dinner conversations and decorating decisions and every day life.

They turn on a Flip camera every day and send me these videos that make me feel loved and included and valued. Shan takes me with them on walks to hear the birds, and out in rainstorms to see the drops falling from the sky, and makes sure I can hear the ice crunch beneath their feet on winter days. They get me as close to leaving these walls as I’ll ever get.

They have had my heart and been family to me for so long now, and today...


they are showing up at my doorstep. They are driving all the way from Tennessee just so I can hug them all around their necks. I won’t have to see them through video. I won’t have to laugh with them on the phone. I get to sit and look at them in my very own house, and pray that my [very overwhelmed from the commotion of the last few weeks] dog learns how to play nice.

We planned this trip for the end of July a few months ago. And when Dad died on the 9th, Shan was ready to change everything and hop a plane to be with me. But I told her that I thought we had planned this just right without knowing it. We planned for this much needed respite from the real world before we knew what the real world would be.

So, for the next few days I get to spend time with people that my heart has been longing to see for such a long time. And I get to love on my little girls who are bright and beautiful and, above all else, fancy. I am so tired and worn down, and my heart is exhausted from aching so hard. And I think seeing these faces:

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is going to be just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gitz Bits 2010: Filling Time

I am so tired of saying this phrase:

“I don’t know how to do this.”

But, people... it’s coming out of my mouth all the time. I don’t know how to do this life without Dad. I don’t know how to grieve. I don’t know how to be normal. I don’t know how to feel sane when my emotions are all over the place.

I don’t know how to make a Gitz Bits post summing up the past two weeks. I try to make these posts light and silly and still truthful. But I don’t think light and silly are going to cut it. Truthful I can do.

So here it goes.

IMG_0430The rest of these photos are ones I just randomly went around and took today, but this first photo is an old one. It’s my favorite one of Dad, and I wanted you all to see it.

I took it the last time I was home, back in 2007. Mom had gone to bed, and Dad and I were up watching the end of some random Hallmark movie. I was sorting through photos on my camera and I turned to take a photo of him.

He did NOT want to pose. I told him that I promised I would delete the picture right after I took it... that I was just wanting to test the settings on the camera. He looked at me and stopped just short of rolling his eyes.

He totally knew better.

And then I said something drippingly sarcastic - something to the effect of, “Oh, come one. You love me. Just one picture.”

And he turned and smiled and gave me this look.

God, I love that man.

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IMG_0818This is the funeral card that I was honored to write his obituary for. It was one of the little things I could do to help from here. It reads:

Michael John Frankl was born in Algona on May 3, 1944. As the son of Gerald P. and Rita (Kunkel) Frankl, Mike grew up in the Irvington area, graduating from Garrigan High School in 1962.

Mike married the love of his life, Jane Grandgenett, on August 8, 1964, at St. Benedict Catholic Church. They raised, taught and loved their six children on a hog farm near Irvington, passing on the life lessons they learned in their own farm upbringings. Mike was proud to be a member of the Kossuth County Pork Producers Association and presently was on the Heartland Mutual Insurance Board. In earlier years, Mike was named the first Outstanding Young Farmer in Kossuth County by then Gov. Ray.

Mike was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, never putting anything above the needs of his family. At the same time, he was an unwavering friend who loved every person he met, giving of his time and his self. Bishop Garrigan School and St. Cecelia Catholic Church were very important to him as he served on many of their boards and committees.

Mike’s life work was serving and loving his family. He savored the moments of family gatherings at home, time spent at the lake and being the proud spectator at his grandchildren’s activities. They always knew him by his cheers and that booming whistle. Mike died Friday, July 9, 2010, in Brainerd, Minnesota, enjoying time with family and friends.


IMG_0880The first photo is a candle used at the wake, and the second shows the back of the funeral program... there were seven priests and three deacons on the altar celebrating Dad’s life.

IMG_0919And this is the register people signed... over a thousand people attended my dad’s funeral. And I have no doubt every one of them felt as though they were special to him.

Because they were.

Dad made people feel they were important, because he made them important both in the way he spoke to them and in the way he listened. There were fewer handshakes than hugs in my dad’s world.

IMG_0922I’m throwing this one in, lest you all think Riley suddenly stopped being a poser. Trust me, in every one of these photos, he’s sitting directly next to whatever object I’m photographing. And insisted on Cheerios after each one.

Some things never change. :)

IMG_0952This is the rosary that sits by my bed. The one I’ve used many times over the last few weeks. The one I grabbed when I Skyped the funeral home to see Dad for the first time and say a rosary with my immediate family.

It was the first moment since hearing about Dad’s death that I felt like I could breathe for a minute.

IMG_0964And this is my homage to the makers of Puffs Plus. Their soft tissues have been much appreciated.

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Ok, these next two photos are ones I didn’t know existed until a few days ago when a friend on Twitter made reference to them. Alece was keeping everyone apprised as to when the wake and funeral were scheduled, and I was so focused on what was happening on my computer screen I was totally oblivious to what she was doing.

Honestly, I lived through those days, and I still find these photos sad to look at. But, as I always say, it just is what it is. And I’m so grateful Alece let people know what was happening when I wasn’t in any shape to do it myself. The prayers, I have no doubt, made a world of difference.

129384286This was me Skyping with people who were at Dad’s wake. I thought I would just be watching, so I didn’t worry about putting on makeup or doing my hair. But as people found out I was on the computer, I ended up turning on the camera and talking with them. I am so grateful I had that chance to reconnect with so many... and apparently I got over my embarrassment of the steroid weight and my paranoia of being seen with no make up. Some moments are just too important to care.

129788138And this is the photo Alece took when Dad’s funeral was about to start. My Aunt Ally came, as well as many of my friends in town, and we celebrated Dad’s life together. I’m so grateful they all were there.

IMG_0935Dad’s funeral was also videotaped, and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to watch it and see things I would have otherwise missed. It’s really hard to watch, but it would be harder sitting here and not knowing all the details.

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IMG_0745This photo Cracked. Me. Up. I was downloading the ones I took today off my camera and this one was the first that popped up. I’m assuming Susie must have grabbed my camera one of the afternoons she was over here with Jonboy. And I know exactly why she took it.

It was probably close to 100 degrees outside that day, and the poor kid was freezing inside my house! I keep it pretty cold in here so I can breathe better, and everyone who walks in either grabs a sweatshirt or a blanket.

Wimps. :)

IMG_0706The night before the wake, my brother Steve drove down for a quick visit with my three oldest nephews.

How cute are they?

Alece took this photo for the same reason. They all tried to act tough, until Spencer finally broke down and grabbed one of my sweatshirts... then it was a free-for-all with them grabbing any blanket in sight.

We’ve gotta toughen these boys up a bit...

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The rest of these are some gifts that people have given me to remember my dad. I have been inundated with kindness, including a friend’s favorite blanket sent over the miles just to wrap me up. And a blogger who sent sand from her home in Hawaii to give me a piece of the world beyond my doors. And two stuffed dogs from two little boys who own my heart.









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Then there are the cards, bringing love from all of you.


The card below was made by my friends’ kids...


Complete with their handprints and the nicknames I call them...


And the sweetest note of love I’ve ever read.


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And this is the photo that sums it all up. Mom and Dad. Together. A life well lived and two souls well loved.

We should all be so blessed.

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Thanks for once again sharing my week with me! Click on the button below if you want to go to Jessica’s site and check out the other participants showing off their weekly photos as well:

Monday, July 26, 2010

In the Pursuit of Normal

I remember after 9/11 happened and David Letterman first came back on the air, he said he wasn’t sure how to do something normal again. How to tell a joke when nothing in his life felt funny.

I feel a little bit like that. The day after Dad’s funeral I got up, looked at Alece and said, “What are we supposed to do now?” It felt like there should be more to do; I just had absolutely no idea what that was. So, I find myself trying to do normal things while feeling anything but normal. My sister Laura described it best when she said she feels like she’s walking through her day with a nagging homesick feeling in her stomach.

We’re all homesick for Dad.

But, we are all going to do the normal things despite feeling homesick. We’re going to tell jokes even if nothing in life feels funny. I’m going to get back to our normal blogging routine, even if in the course of it I talk about Dad and grief and all that comes with it.

Thanks in advance for bearing with me. :) The most normal thing I can do is share with you all whatever comes to mind... show you what real life is here... and throw in a lot of sarcasm for good measure. In other words, business as usual.

So, tomorrow begins our Tuesday Gitz Bits again. I’m going to go around and take some photos that will sum up some of the last few weeks, and then we’ll get back to a photo a day after that. I’m also going to start back with our YOU:create project this Thursday.

Ironically, Mom had taken photos of Dad doing a project that I told him I was going to put in a YOU:create post, so I’m going to go ahead and do that on Thursday. If any of you did projects the past few weeks even though I wasn’t posting, I’d love for you to link them up there so I can go around to your blogs and get caught up with you. Then, starting next week, I’ll be posting my own creative endeavors once again.

Now, who wants to help in my pursuit of normalcy?

[Don’t everyone raise their hands at once...] :)

I’m going to be bringing back Blog Peep Questions for awhile to help me get back in the swing of things. So here is your mission, should you choose to accept it:

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Leave me a question in the comment section. It can be deep, shallow, personal, obscure, interesting, silly, insightful or random. I don’t care. You ask it, I’ll answer it... anything goes!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Flashback Friday: A Long Way From Your Heart

When I was a little girl, any time I would get hurt and go to my dad crying about my ailment he would always do the same thing. He would take my pinched finger or other such hurt and say:

You know what the good thing about this is, don’t you? It’s a long way from your heart.”

Then he’d laugh while trying to get me to laugh and think about anything else but my hurt.

Being a kid, I would always take that sore finger, hold it to my chest and say, “No! See? It’s right here by my heart!” But the conversation and the laughter usually distracted me enough, making whatever had been hurting suddenly not so bad.

I eventually understood his lesson behind the distraction... that no physical ailment could change my heart. That every hurt would pass and I would still be the same on the inside regardless of the outside.

I’ve had many opportunities to put that saying to the test in my adult life, and I’ve realized something about Dad’s theory...

I realized that some hurts aren’t a long way from my heart. Some hurts reside there. But they don’t change who I am inside.

They don’t change my faith.

I realized that every lesson I learned before remains the same after.

I realized that nothing is different. God is the same. Love is the same.

No matter how much my heart hurts.

Years ago, I felt like God drew a line in the sand and asked me to either choose the fear and worry, or choose to trust Him. I chose trust... and it was an all or nothing decision.

Being sick didn’t change that. Becoming homebound didn’t change that. My dad dying doesn’t change that. Because I know better... because I made that definitive choice to trust Him with my life... I can’t pretend to be ignorant simply because my life is suddenly altered.

I know better. I know Him. And I trust Him.

I trust that my dad was instantly overwhelmed with love and peace and joy the moment his heart stopped beating. I trust that God never changed for a moment... that His grace has surrounded all of us every moment of every day, just as it did before Dad died and just as it will tomorrow.

I trust that God sees all, knows all, understands all. And because I trust Him, I can walk through this life with the goal of fulfilling what I know I will never understand.

This life is so random to us, but it isn’t random to Him.

And that is enough for me.

Just know that you can make the choice for it to be enough for you, too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


It’s been over a year since I’ve been confined to my house. A year since I’ve opened a window or even stood in the hallway of my building.

It’s been over a year since my parents came with me to my last “outside the condo” doctor appointment. We left there knowing I wouldn’t return... wouldn’t go outside or travel home. Dad asked where I wanted to go, what I wanted to see before I walked back into my house for the last time.

So we went to get McDonald’s french fries and the three of us sat on my patio, soaking in the sunshine and feeling the perfect breeze, until my breathing got to the point where I couldn’t take it any longer. Then we went inside and I’ve been here ever since.

We talked about a lot of things while sitting on the patio. We talked about the change that was happening, the choices I no longer had. We talked about things to come that I would miss, like graduations and weddings and birthdays and funerals. We talked about acceptance and trust and faith.

I just had no idea I would have to put those things to the test so soon.

Despite knowing how random my own life had become with my illness and it’s repercussions, I had no idea that randomness would spread so much further. That randomness would take my dad.

The autopsy showed that my dad was as healthy as we all thought he was. His heart was in perfect shape. He didn’t have a stroke or heart attack or any other thing that would take someone so instantly from this Earth. My dad, the farmer who spent his whole life outside and was probably bit by every bug imaginable while working in the fields, was stung on his toe while they were out on the lake.


He was stung on his toe, and they think he died of anaphylactic shock. He had no symptoms other than the sting hurting. His throat didn’t close. He didn’t get a rash. They think his blood pressure just dropped until he was gone. One minute he was flirting with my mom, the next minute he said he might not feel well, and the next second he was gone.


I keep thinking he should have lived for at least twenty more years. He should have. But the truth is, there are no shoulds in this life. I know that. I’ve lived that. I know that life isn’t about what we think we deserve, but rather it’s about fulfilling our purpose while we’re here.

Dad did that every day. He fulfilled his purpose by paying attention to HIS purpose. Dad lived with intention, and while the sting of an insect seems random to us, there are a million things Dad did in the weeks leading up to his death that show us there is nothing random if we listen to the urging of the Spirit.

The people he visited and took care of, the trips he made to see his children, the tasks he completed around the house, the way he took care of mom in extra measure. That day they stopped and visited friends that live on the lake, and before he walked out of their house he turned back... hugged them... and asked aloud for God to bless them.

Intention. Not random.

He didn’t have a prompting in his spirit and think, “I’ll get to that tomorrow. I’ll visit them tomorrow. I’ll bless them next time.” He felt an urge and he acted.

I want to live with that kind of intention. Google says 1% of people die from anaphylactic shock. While his death may have been random, his life was anything but. I tried to remind myself of that fact while I sat in my house and watched his wake through a computer screen.

I tried, while watching his funeral on Skype, to remember that I can’t live my life thinking in shoulds. That I should have been there. I should have had the chance to say goodbye. I should have touched his hand. I should have stood with my siblings as they draped the white cloth over his coffin. A coffin I never got to put my fingerprints on and leave my mark for him. I should have hugged my mom and held my sisters’ hands while telling my brothers how much he loved them.

So many shoulds. So many things that seem like a basic human right. But that’s not how life works. Life works with acceptance and trust and faith.

Just like we talked about on the patio.

I am trying to live with that intention.

I just didn’t think I would have to so soon.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Finding Words Again

Oh, you guys.

I have so much to say to you.

And at the same time, I just don’t have any words.

You might have to forgive me if in the next week or two everything comes out as a jumbled mess... that seems to be how my brain is working right now. It’s how my brain has functioned since that moment my sister called.

I already knew something was wrong. I had called my mom’s cell phone in the middle of their chaos. I was just thinking about them and calling to check in. Dad was already gone, the paramedics had just finished working on him, my aunt answered the phone crying and said they’d call me back. I hung up knowing something was wrong, but could never have imagined what they had just been through.

My mind thought of a million scenarios of why she was crying in that 20 minutes I waited for a phone call. I thought of accidents, my mom, my aunts and uncles who were all gathered at the lake boating. I prayed for them. I prayed through every scenario.

I thought of everyone in every scenario, but I never once thought about my dad. It never once occurred to me that something could be wrong with him. That he was the one who needed my prayers.

Not once.

Because my dad is so healthy. So strong. He is the one who would know what to do, how to help, how to fix it. Because it never occurred to me, I think the shock of it hit even harder when my sister called and said those two words:

Dad’s gone.”

I’m going to be honest with you guys, because I don’t know any other way to do this than to be honest with you, I have felt like I’ve been split into two people ever since. I’ve been split into the person who can think rationally and articulate her emotions, and into the person whose physical body took over and reacted without thought.

I sat on the phone and could hear myself screaming. Just screaming. And somewhere in my mind while I heard my own screams I had the thought, “Is this what happens when your dad dies? What am I supposed to do when my dad dies?

In the last week I have been able to have conversations on the phone with my family, write an obituary, organize photos. But in the last week I’ve had to learn how to close my eyes again, relearn how to sleep, figure out how to distinguish dream states from reality. I’ve had to accept dry heaving as an every day occurrence and be patient with myself as my body catches up to my mind in learning to accept this.

I’m learning to be patient with myself, because not being able to pull myself together has been so frustrating.

I learned this last week how to let people take care of me. I’m not good at that. I’ve never been any good at that. But my friend Nicole drove here from Kansas City the day after he died and took over my world. My friend Alece flew here from Georgia to love me for the week. My best friends here in town surrounded me, laid with me, reminded me to do my breathing treatments and take my meds and try to sleep.

I didn’t know what I needed or who I needed until they walked through the door... and provided what I didn’t know to ask for.

I’m a strong girl. But I now know that when I am weak I have enough strength surrounding me to hold me up.


I didn’t look online for many days; I just couldn’t. But when I did... I felt stronger. I felt every single one of you. And I have been humbled beyond words.

Thank you for loving me. For loving my family. For honoring my dad.

I have so much more to say... so much more to tell you. But for now, I just want to say thank you.

Thank you for loving me so well. I am stronger because of each and every one of you. There aren’t words big enough to say how phenomenally grateful I am that you all found me here in the last two years and became family to me.

I have been given more blessings than I can hold... the greatest of which is the love of my dad for the last 37 years. In the midst of all of this, in the center of every emotion, I can’t help but find myself grateful to have lived in the great and loving shadow he and my mom provided.

I am blessed.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This Hero of a Man

Sara woke up this morning and realized that a post she'd written and scheduled last week automatically went live earlier. It wasn't intended for today, so I've taken it down.

This is something Sara wrote last night. She didn't write it for us; she didn't write it for her blog. But she gave me permission to post it. Sara wants this day to be filled with nothing more than thoughts of her dad---the man who's had her heart her entire life. And the words she wrote last night seem perfectly fitting for that.

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My dad's funeral is today.

My dad died.

My dad's funeral is today.

My dad died.

I keep rehearsing these words in my mind because every time they start to develop on my tongue the taste of nausea creeps in.

They make me dizzy. Like someone has pushed me into an alternate universe where the gravity is slightly off. Just enough to trick you into thinking you are standing on stable ground only to discover you're falling by an ever-so-gradual measure.

My dad died.

This hero of a man.

Not a giant... Giants are unreachable. Not perfect... Perfect is unattainable. A hero. A faithful man. A kind soul. A man with eyes that sparkle with mischief and compassion and empathy and inside jokes.

This loving man died.

He called me baby doll.

Not hearing those words from him again sounds like a sheath being torn in two... Leaving a gaping space where words belong.

His words. His sayings.

"I'll get your neckers."
"Oh, I'm about two in a hill."
"It's a long way from your heart."
"How's my baby doll doing today?"

That laugh. That laugh at his own jokes that were only funny to him, but funny to us because they came from him.

Those nicknames. The terms of endearment. Anyone can call you by your given name. He believed you were special enough to be given an original.

I was his Gitzen Girl.

My dad's funeral is today.


Friday, July 9, 2010

My First Boyfriend

Dearest Blogger Friends:

It’s me, Susie – Sara’s favorite (actually only) – guest blogger. I’m writing this guest post for her today with the heaviest of hearts. Sara received word today that her dad passed away suddenly of an apparent heart attack. He was out on a boat with Sara’s mom and her aunts and uncles on the most gorgeous of summer days. He was doing one of the things he loved most and had just winked at his wife. A few moments later, he mentioned that he didn’t feel well. He then collapsed and was unable to be revived by family or paramedics. It is still so hard to believe – he was the picture of health and he and Sara’s mom had just visited on the 4th of July. Please keep Sara in your thoughts and prayers and know that she wishes she could call or e-mail each one of you personally, but that is impossible right now. I know I could never put into words what a wonderful human being Mike was, so I’m going to attach a previous post written by Sara on February 6, 2009 that speaks volumes about the kind of person Mike Frankl was.

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Flashback Friday: My First Boyfriend

dad me ring

That's my dad, giving me a ring for Christmas when I was a little girl. The photo was taken in his office at the hog farm, and I truly have no idea why that would be the location he chose to put a tiny little ring on my tiny little finger... but it's another great example of the "what" mattering more than the "why" or the "how."

Because this picture embodies the character of my dad. He is a man who is filled to the brim with love. He's the guy who would get on the floor to talk to you, who would be interested in your stories and would take the opportunity to tell you how loved you are, what makes you special and what makes him proud. He's also the dad who would tease you mercilessly, tickle you until you begged for mercy and climb trees to hang homemade swings, only to get stuck trying to figure out how to climb back down. He has always been a big kid, which made being his kid a whole lot of fun.

I was obviously too little to remember being in this photo, but I can imagine the story he was telling to keep me so entranced. I can hear him, all serious, "Now, if a guy would just be extra careful with a little ring like this you won't lose it... there were pert-near 30 rings in that store, but this one was the prettiest." Because every good story dad tells has to have the phrases "if a guy would just" and "pert-near" in them somewhere.

Mostly, I love that this photo isn't taken under a perfectly lit Christmas tree or when we were all dressed up to go to midnight Mass. I love that he stopped in the middle of his day, dressed in his farm clothes... his snap-front shirt that surely had a pen and a tiny notepad in the left front pocket and his smelly jeans with a holder for his pliers on his hip... to let me know that I was his girl. He knew how to savor his moments, and I'm so glad I have the photo so I can look back and savor it, too.

All my other boyfriends had no idea what they were getting themselves into... that first boyfriend of mine simply made it impossible to measure up.