Monday, March 8, 2010

A Picture for Frank

Life Guard, 2005

I took this picture for my friend Frank. He used to live here at the beach. We worked together for several years later on when he was in our firm’s offices in Michigan and Nashville.

Later on, Frank had his own business back in Michigan. We continued to do work together until, just after I’d finished a large study for one of his clients, Frank sheepishly told me he’d be unable to pay my last invoice, a rather sizable amount in my world. I was one of many creditors, most of whom agreed that our best chance for getting any payment stood in keeping Frank in business. But the largest creditors felt otherwise and shut him down. So no one got anything but mad.

Frank and I didn’t talk for several years. I was angry and disappointed. Frank was embarrassed and ashamed at having failed and having left so many friends and associates holding the bag. Over time, he got his act back together. He married a wonderful woman. I heard he was picking up a little freelance work here and there.

Then I heard that Frank had cancer and not only that, but that he was close to death. It’s one thing to be angry at a friend over a bad debt. It’s another to deny him friendship when he’s dying. I had to be up in Michigan on other business not long thereafter and called Frank to see if I could visit him. By this time, Frank was unable to work any more, but his mind was still strong and he was at least still able to get around with a cane. I arranged to take Frank and his wife to dinner at a small lakeside restaurant nearby.

I arrived at the house late on a snowy afternoon. It was one of those dark gray late winter days when the light is such that morning and afternoon are indistinguishable. The house sits up on a hill surrounded by fields. Imagine the landscape in Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World, only covered by snow.

Frank was frail. We talked until his wife got home from work. Among his other talents, Frank was a good writer and had a great interest in state politics. I encouraged him to start a blog to give himself something to do. But he was uncomfortable, and as time passed it seemed he was more uneasy about my presence than with his own condition. Finally, he stopped me in mid-sentence and said, tears in his eyes, “I didn’t think I deserved to be your friend anymore.”

In June I learned that Frank had been moved to a hospice facility. He’d hoped to get one more trip to Virginia Beach in before dying. But that clearly wasn’t going to happen. So I went down to the beach and took several pictures and had them enlarged and overnighted to the Hospice, where they could be pinned up on the wall in Frank’s room. His wife told me later that they lifted his spirits and gave him something to reminisce about when visitors came to see him.

1 comment:

  1. Man, Frank sure had his share of things to deal with. A photo like this one would have cheered me up--love the red/yellow/blue primary colors here.