Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Father, My Friend

Frank P. Haas 1942 – 2012
I first met Frank in 1978, when he was courting my mother Sandy. He had “passed muster” so he could meet my sister and me. I remember a big man in aviator sunglasses, wearing a leisure suit, and driving a mint green Lincoln Continental Town Car.
Soon Frank also gained my Grandma’s approval by pruning a rose bush and repairing the fridge. One of my first memories of him is of him helping my Mom prepare dinner. Something about the patient way he chopped the vegetables and prepared the sauce gave me pause. He gave his full attention to the task at hand, and in doing so, clearly enjoyed the work.
Eventually, Frank would teach me how to drive, found me after-school jobs, and helped fund my education. He had a life-long habit of putting others before himself, taking care of his mother, father, sisters and two young children, as well as his numerous clients and countless close friends.
I learned that Frank entered the workforce at 12 years old selling newspapers – going on to sell ladies shoes and cars, and finally, with astronomical success for almost 30 years, insurance. At State Farm his wise advice and conscientious effort made him the quintessential Good Neighbor.
He was the “go to” man for many, and he loved being that man. He never hesitated to step up to the plate and take charge of any situation, and yet, he was humble, too.
Over the years, Frank and I chatted about what is important in Life. We would invariably distill it down to three concepts: Giving is Receiving, Work is Love Made Visible and Always Look on the Sunny Side of Life.
Frank’s secret was simple: He Lived to Give. He was one of those rare people who understood what Real Love is: He gave of himself to others — his intelligence, his hard work, his humor and his joy. In return, he was genuinely loved by many, many people in his community and beyond. Frank taught me that Love is more about giving than receiving.
The poet Rilke says: “For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate test and proof, the work for which all other work is preparation.”
The love between my parents, Frank and Sandy, was a joy to see. They were, quite simply, each other's best friends. Together, they fulfilled their dreams: creating the life they wanted, traveling to places near and far, watching their children and grandchildren grow, and cherishing each other deeply for 35 years.
Throughout his long illness, Frank continued to love: interested and concerned about others even though he was suffering greatly. In an almost mystical way he gave us all time to be with him during these past months, and at the end, to say our goodbyes.
Most of all, I think he wanted to stay for Sandy, truly the love of his life. As Frank began his journey home, I asked him to continue to be our Angel on the other side, watching over us, and helping us to love and take care of each other. We all hope to live up to the high standard he set for integrity, humility, and kindness.
One of Frank’s many affiliations was Optimist International. Members believe that giving of oneself in service to others “advances the well-being of humankind, community life and the world.”
As we celebrate Frank’s life today and wonder how we will go on without him, I hear him reciting the Optimist Creed. Whenever the chips were down he would say~ “Press on to the Greater Achievements of the Future.” We need to be our very best selves, we need to live our lives to the fullest in his honor. He would want us to press on!
We love you Frankie.
And we will see you again — finally at home, where you are happy and free, glowing in the bright healing light of Heaven.
Played for Frankie in the hospital the day before he went home