It's the one year aniversary of the passing of my Mom, Andra. To honor her I am re-publishing my tribute to her as I still miss her just as much today, if not more, than the wee morning hours when I wrote this.
I also want to remind people that family should be the most important thing. I hope you call your parents today if they're still alive, or your children or siblings and remind them you love them.
To Andra: I think about you every day but you already know that...
In this crazy world of the bigger, better deal, sometimes priorities in life get mixed up. We covet so many things. We want this next greatest thing, and if I just had this, my life would be complete.
I'm just as guilty as anyone. I have an iMac. But I also have three MacBooks. Really? Do I need three? Sure, I have a business, but 3? And then I have an iPad just because $1200 MacBook is too bulky. Are you serious?
Our lives are focused on things that that we believe will make us "so happy" if we could just acquire them. We are a nation of gathers. We want to make sure we have our possessions, and if we have more stuff than the next guy, then maybe we're important? Or maybe we're doing better than the next guy? Maybe we've accomplished more as we acquire more and more stuff.
And we idolize things that are truly ridiculous. We put the most asinine things up on a pedestal just because they can do something we can't. They can score touchdowns. They can run fast. They can do crazy things with a basketball. They can sing or dance.
But what matters most, and what I was so sadly reminded of lately is the best things in life are free. They truly are.
I want to tell you about the greatest five-star prospect who ever lived---at least for me, anyway. Standing 5-foot-1, 100 pounds most of my life, and slow, un-athletic, ditzie as Marylin Monroe, a horrible driver, an average student, the least musical person I know…..
Her name was Andra. And she was my rock.
From a very young age, Andra and I had a special bond. I think almost every son and mother do. But ours was special because we were so much alike. It's crazy to think how much we're alike. I have most of the good parts of my Mom in my personality, but I wish I had more of her truly best parts, and that's what makes her so special, not to just me, but to everyone who knew her.
I have a few of her very few flaws, but as we always said, "we're working on them." Sadly, she was further along than I am, currently, but I'm working on it….
I mention the "least musical person I know" because my Mom was a horrible singer. I'm not much better, but Andra was awful, and she knew it, but that didn't deter her from doing what she knew would impact me for the rest of my life, and she was right. Some of my earliest memories, and certainly some of the fondest, is my Mom softly singing to me. I'm going to guess most of us remember it, and it's something I'll never forget.
My parents had six kids. And while my dad made good money, they both felt it was much more important to have a mother at home versus making a few more dollars to add to the pot. I'm so glad they made that decision.
Thus, we were not rich. I didn't have the best of everything growing up, and to be honest, I'm glad I didn't.
My mom loves to tell a story that I've jokingly complained about for years. It was a truly traumatic experience for me. Only those who have experienced this can truly know….
Back in the 70s, there used to be grocery stores and there weren't many "Target" stores out there. We had "Alco" and "K-Mart," but not many Targets. Not that Target is cool to most young kids, but let's just say it was a HUGE step up from Alco and K-Mart.
There used to be a thing called "grocery store shoes." This horror was far worse than Alco and K-Mart.
This stigma was a wire basket in the middle of an isle in usually the frozen food section of a grocery store. Inside the basket was a wealth of the least cool sneakers ever assembled. And worse, you didn't even get a box with these shoes. Nope, they were gathered together by a simple plastic band. And to "test" these shoes you had to sit on the hard floor, in the middle of the grocery store, take off your severely worn shoe and strap on this beacon of shame.
Many a kid faced this horror, and had to then wear this badge of dishonor every day at school. I was such a fellow. That was life in our family at the time with 6 kids born within a very short period of time. It was embarrassing, but it also taught me to be humble and thankful. And my mom sat me down and explained to me that even if I had the greatest shoes ever assembled, it still didn't define who I was. And people only truly respected who you were, and not what you wore.
What Andra was truly a master at was somehow making you feel special amongst 6 kids with limited resources and limited time. How is that possible? She made it happen.
Our deal was our special times together. She made a point to make me know that X amount of time, even if it was 10 minutes playing with only me, was only me. This continued throughout my life.
One of my favorite stories is how my mom and I are both night owls. We would sneak the station wagon out when I was 12-13 at least once a week and hit Taco John's. We'd sneak a few bucks out of my Dad's wallet and drive there at 12:00 AM a few nights a week and grab some tacos.
The rest of my siblings had no idea until I broke the news a few years ago. They were truly shocked by this and had no idea, but that just reinforced that this was how Andra found time to make me feel special amongst a mountain of stress and a huge responsibility.
And Andra was the referee. Dad was the hammer, and trust me, if anyone needed a hammer, it was me. But I'm the responsible, self-sufficient, reliable, punctual, respectful and disciplined person I am today because of my Dad. This is not my nature, trust me, but this is the greatest gift he could've given me because this is not in my nature, and I thank him continually for this as he did the responsible and not easy things he needed to do to get me to where I am today. And I love you, Dad, for it.
She was the "good cop," and the best good cop out there. Trust me, I was forever in trouble. And she was there every step of the way.
Andra was like the little rectangle in the game of Pong. Things would keep flying at her and she'd just bounce them off---one right after another. If I were down she'd bounce me back into the game of life with a boatload of confidence that I could defeat anything thrown at me. She'd pick us all up and put us right back in the game, ready for battle.
She was this same paddle for the rest of her life. That was her gift. That is what God wanted her to do, what he called her to do. She gladly accepted.
My Mom was a strong woman, just like her grandmother she so admired. She wasn't strong physically, or in presence, but she was strong in her convictions.
For the past 20+ years of her life she fought for the rights of the less fortunate. As the head of Citizen's Advocacy in her town she fought for every special needs person in the area. There was nothing she wouldn't do for those who couldn't speak up, or wouldn't be taken seriously even if they did. That was who she was. That is what defined her.
A few days from now Andra will fill the church to the rafters with people who knew, loved and respected my mother. She did so many wonderful things for so many people. Even I will be surprised by what will be a true statement to how many people she impacted in her community.
But it's important to know that as wonderful as she was to so many people who had very few people fighting for them, she was even more important to us and truly the rock of the Frank family. She was my rock, and for everyone else in this family as well.
Andra got called up to the show. She's in the big leagues now. And I'm here to tell you I'm not an overly "religious" guy, but I'm a very spiritual guy. Mom, at the end, was as focused as I've ever seen anyone in my life. There was one place she was staring, and I've never seen anyone more focused on one object in my life when she passed. Andra surely convinced me there is something out there beyond this world, and she's there now.
She is in the show. She was called up at what I swear was exactly 12:00 a.m. August 28, 2012. She'd probably rather be down here helping the less fortunate, but God felt it was time for her to go to the show.
In a few days there will be a huge celebration in the honor of Andra, and anyone attending will tell you rightfully so. But at the end of the day, I'd just love to have my Mom back , but once again, she just pushed me back into the game of life and said I was ready to stand of my own.
I write this as a tribute to the truly greatest person I know. But I also write it so people can hopefully gain some perspective on what's truly important in life. Sadly, one thing that's truly important in my life is now gone. I will miss her more than anyone can imagine. I hope my comments today remind people to tell those special to them how much they truly are important in their lives.
I will miss my Mom a great deal. Life can change within an instant, as it did in this occasion. Don't miss out on the opportunity to make those you love truly understand how important they are in your lives. I did with Andra, and that allowed me to write this today at 3 a.m. this morning.
A tribute to the greatest person I've ever known. May God embrace you and reward you with the kindness and love you've shown so many in your life down here in the minors. Hopefully some day we all get called up to the show.
Your loving son, Mike