It seems somehow serendipitous that we began the theme of forgiveness over the weekend, and I found out on Monday that Frank C., a true Strong Man of Grace, lost a nine-year battle to cancer. Frank was a man transformed during those nine years. He was always, always a good guy. He was funny, intelligent, loving, people-oriented and just a great person to be around. And as he would freely tell you, however, he had “an Italian temper” and it lost him a few wars over the years as he was busy fighting those battles.
I got the opportunity to stay with him, his wife and daughter about five years ago as we ventured south for a trip to the Masters Golf tournament. His family had re-located to South Carolina because the chemo had left him always feeling cold in our damp and sometimes raw northern climate. He spoke during our visit of forgiveness—of forgiving himself for his occasional, passionate, hot-headedness—of forgiving others who he perceived had wronged him or those he loved. He seemed genuinely to be at peace with events that at one time caused him consternation.
I had the opportunity to speak with two friends who visited him in this last month. They both shared that while he couldn’t get out of bed, or even lift his head off the pillow, he still gave fist bumps, laughed and joked, and expressed concern for others during their respective visits with him. It makes me emotional just thinking about the depth of his grace and the beautiful lessons he taught us during these years of adversity. Both women said it’s a visit they will never forget.
Frank, we love you. We will miss your vivacious laughter, your gracious hospitality, your generosity and your beautiful humility. Thank you for teaching us so many wonderful lessons over the years and leaving behind a legacy of grace.