I'm finding words to be elusive. An incredible man drew his last breath early Thursday morning, October 21st, his family by his side. Yesterday afternoon, my hometown gathered around his family to say goodbye. It is hard to wrap my mind around it happening so quickly; they hadn't even had time to adjust after hearing that dreaded word: cancer. I suppose on one hand that can be seen as a mercy, but right now I have to admit that I just see it as a tragedy.
My heart is broken for everyone who knew and loved Frank. And as far as I can tell, to know him was to love him. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I am incredibly thankful for the years I've counted him as part of my church family. That phrase doesn't really do it justice--our tiny little group is a lot more of a family than it probably implies. I'm thankful for the countless Sunday mornings spent sipping coffee, eating breakfast, and studying God's Word at a table with Frank. He was always quick with a smile no matter what he was facing. His laugh was contagious. His love for his Savior and wisdom will always serve as shining examples of what it means to be a godly follower of Christ--as Pop pointed out at the service, Frank pointed to God every day by showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Reading the tributes on social media, it leaves no doubt in my mind that Frank's reputation didn't vary depending on the person talking. He was greatly loved and greatly respected, and he will be greatly missed. That was only made more evident by the fact that the church building was overflowing as people came to pay their respects and say goodbye.
Frank first served his country, but then he spent most of his life serving his community. He was a fixture in the Green Forest hardware business--first at Tanner's, then at Bonham Powell Hardware. He saved a lot of people a lot of headaches--you could walk in, tell Frank what you were trying to accomplish and how you thought you wanted to do it, and he would kindly suggest the better way to do it in a way that made you feel like that had been your plan all along. My dad has said that his own bill at the hardware store will most likely go up--because Frank won't be there to tell him when 2 pieces will work better than the 5 he had in mind to fix something. I can't count how many people have shared that they followed Frank from Tanner's on the square... to Tanner's at the east end of town... to Bonham-Powell's... simply because they knew they could always trust him to tell them what they needed to fix whatever they were working on.
I don't know why Frank is gone. I don't know why his story wasn't one of miraculous healing here on this broken earth. I do know, though, that Frank knew where he would draw his next breath after the last one he drew here. I know that God welcomed him home as a son and a faithful servant.
"What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains."
And I have to admit, I have a picture in mind of Frank working alongside the Carpenter right now to prepare the new Jerusalem, making sure everything is just right.