Friday, January 18, 2008

Clayton Millard Frank, 1911 - 2008

Tough weekend. We officially moved into our house last Friday, and then my grandfather died on Sunday. He had been in and out of the hospital for about 10 days, and he was in some pain. For some reason, I was convinced that he wasn’t going to die now. I thought he was too ornery. But after receiving a three day pain patch, he went peacefully that morning. Although I am tremendously sad to have lost him, and that I didn’t get to see him once more, I am relieved that he is no longer in pain and that he can be the kid at the family table again. Several years ago, before his sister died, he commented that he was running out of relatives. I’m now grandparent-less and I understand. Here’s what I said at his funeral:

Someone once told me that the reason there is a special bond between grandparents and grandchildren is because they are each closer to another life. It’s a reincarnationist’s theory, for sure. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I follow that particular philosophy, but I do believe that the people who are special to us, those that really matter and have a tremendous impact on who we become, couldn’t be in our lives via random happenstance. Somewhere in the grand plan, the people who belong together find each other. This is why I believe that this man, Clayton Frank, was the perfect grandfather for me because he had the qualities that I needed to learn in order to become the person I am today.

Papa liked to work with his hands. He had a very nice workshop that he liked toodling around in. Many didn’t know that he owned a patent, on a clamp he developed while working at the Defense General Supply. Even though the clamp never went into production, I don’t think he cared. He just liked being inventive. He built a desk for me for school, and a wheelbarrow for my son Clay. Some projects turned out better than others. He seemed to always be working on a lawn mower. In college I rented a house with some friends, and he gave us a lawnmower to use. Unfortunately, to get it to start you’d have to do something crazy, like stand on one foot, stick out your tongue, lean WAYYYY over, and then pull the cord. It would cut half the lawn, die, and then we’d call him and he’d drive an hour to bring up another. He was always generous, with his time as well as his things. If you needed anything, you’d only have to ask. He taught me that being loyal and generous were better than anything else, and I’m grateful to him for many things, but for that especially.

Definitely not the most eloquent eulogy, and it certainly doesn't do justice to the man that he was, but I found myself speaking unexpectedly. The day before I had drafted something for the minister to read (also not the best thing I’d ever written, but hey, I was not in the best place emotionally), but it became clear at the gravesite that he couldn’t read what I wrote. He was also having a bad day, and the service he had just led was evidence to it. I didn’t want his bad day to turn my grandfather’s final day into crap. So Mike (bless him) asked the minister right then and there if he’d mind if I read what I wrote. He didn't. And I did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just teared up again reading this.

Much love,