Wishing my best friend, Frank, a very happy birthday.

Take The Time To Say 'Happy Birthday'

I know I've been really bad with doing this in 2018, but it's on my "musts of 2019" - get better at remembering and wishing others a happy birthday.

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One can look over the course of their life, and see the multitude of friendships they have or had in that time. It is true, teammates, colleagues, and friends can come and go. If you're really fortunate enough, you'll have a few that were there since the very beginning.

December 6th is a day in which I gladly can say, happy birthday, to my dear friend, Frank Anton Petrich. Having a "Frank" in your life is an extraordinary thing because this is a person that embodies loyalty, compassion, and humility to an unprecedented degree.

Frank is the friend who can pick up the phone and talk to you right where you last left off with him, even if it's been a month since you last spoke to him! On the compassion side, he shared many common hardships with me when both of our grandmothers were getting older, and it was important to check in with each other and be there when their passing arrived.

Frank is a man of true humility because he was raised in such light through his parents. While he had the most kick-ass 2008 Ford Escape, with chrome rims, he never flashed that in your face - but he sure didn't mind cranking up the music in the summertime with the windows down - and the bass was kickin'.

Frank asserted himself as a brother, from a different family, in my life. We experienced many different life events together, baseball championships, hockey tournaments, soccer tryouts, graduations, birthdays, casual Fridays of movies or friend gatherings...the list could go on forever. It does not seem possible, but it has been 22 years from day 1 of friendship. These 22 years are some of the best memories of my life. I hope that many more are on the horizon, for laughter, for sincerity, for humility. December is a great month to celebrate this guy, and his name is Frank the Tank.

P.S. Make sure to have a few cold ones. As hard and for as many hours you put in, take some time to enjoy yourself and 28 years of life!

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject. It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease. The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own. We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time. Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death. However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me. In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident. A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life. I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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4 Things I Wish High School Me Knew

Every day has a purpose.

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People don't give high school enough credit for having the ability to shape your life. It can build you or it can break you and often times there is no in between. As I enter into my senior year of college I have reflected a lot on my college career and how it really has been the best years of my life up to this point, but I know that without a doubt my life would have been so different in I would have known these things as a high schooler.

1. Your life is valuable

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. - Ephesians 2:4-7

2. You aren't defined by your singleness. 

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires. - Song of Solomon 2:7

4. You aren't going to fit in

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:2

4. Your clothes aren't going to fit forever, don't spend all of your money on them 

Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions." - Luke 12:15

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