When I was pregnant with Alden we tossed around the name Frank. Ultimately we went with John Alden. John for Damon’s dad, who passed away when Damon was 13, and Alden so that he would have a name that is only his. But such is my Uncle Frank’s place in our lives that he was a contender to have a namesake. When I was pregnant with Elliot we had the same conversations, but we struggled with how to address the other fathers and father figures in our lives, my dad, my stepdad. Ultimately we feared that honoring any one of them would feel like a slight toward the others. And so we picked another name that is fresh to both our families — Elliot. But we gave him St. Charles as a middle name as a tip of the hat to his entire maternal lineage. (Well done, right?)

All that to say that Uncle Frank, my mom’s only sibling, holds a lot of emotional ground in our family.

He has always called me Jillbee. He expressed total confidence in my every plan, even when, in all honesty, the plan didn’t deserve much confidence. When I was a teenager and fell in love with musical theater he called a friend and arranged backstage tour of Phantom of the Opera. He got me a gig as the Cincinnati Bengals mascot the year they went to the Super Bowl. I could go on and on and on.

But I’ll bet you can tell where this is going.

We had a family meeting today and decided to halt Uncle Frank’s dialysis treatment. He had a stroke last week and our hopes have risen and fallen through the days. All the tests and consults finally translated into the reality that while he may be able to recover neurologically, his many other medical issues mean he won’t be able to survive. We know our choice is between letting him go more peacefully now or letting him go in tremendous pain in a few months. His son and his doctor went and told him of the family’s decision. And while he can’t speak, they believe he relaxed and was more peaceful afterward.

He’s a bull of a man, or he wouldn’t still be here at all. He was a football star and locally famous in his youth. In his adulthood he is famous for his tremendous geniality, his many steadfast friendships, his deep faith. He would kick your ass (oh so literally) if you hassled his sister. It is a breathtaking loss for me, for our family and for his larger community. And I wanted to make sure that I say that tonight, while he’s still here.

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16 responses to this post.

  1. I’m so sorry to hear this. He sounds like a great man to have on your side, and you seem to have a lot of Frank in you.
    Maybe if you fulfill the item in your list of adopting a little girl, one of her names can be France?
    In any case, I will be holding you all close.

    Reply

  2. I’m so sorry to hear this. He sounds like a great man to have on your side, and you seem to have a lot of Frank in you.
    Maybe if you fulfill the item in your list of adopting a little girl, one of her names can be France?
    In any case, I will be holding you all close.

    Reply

  3. So sorry to hear this. Not an easy decision.
    ::hugs::

    Reply

  4. So sorry to hear this. Not an easy decision.
    ::hugs::

    Reply

  5. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    Reply

  6. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    Reply

  7. I’m so sorry you’re losing such a wonderful man. I’m thinking of you.

    Reply

  8. I’m so sorry you’re losing such a wonderful man. I’m thinking of you.

    Reply

  9. He sounds like a wonderful person, I’m so sorry. I am keeping you in my thoughts.

    Reply

  10. He sounds like a wonderful person, I’m so sorry. I am keeping you in my thoughts.

    Reply

  11. I am so sorry of your family’s impending loss.

    Reply

  12. I am so sorry of your family’s impending loss.

    Reply

  13. I’m sorry. Hugs to you and your family during this time. He’s lucky to have such an increadible niece.

    Reply

  14. I’m sorry. He doesn’t sound the kind of man who’d be keen to hang around just for the sake of hanging around. May he be comforted, comfortable, and at peace.
    And may your family be, too.

    Reply

  15. I’m sorry. He doesn’t sound the kind of man who’d be keen to hang around just for the sake of hanging around. May he be comforted, comfortable, and at peace.
    And may your family be, too.

    Reply

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