Monday, October 15, 2007

For Fran

On Wednesday, October 10, 2007, Fran Crumpton's boy, Stan Adams, went to live with the Lord. Fran asked me to say a few words, which wound up being many words, at Stan's funeral on Saturday, October 13. And so I did. I've posted here what I said to Fran. The next post is the letter that I wrote to Stan. Please read and remember the good times that we had with Stan the Man Adams!

October 13, 2007
If you’ll excuse me for just a minute, I’d like to talk to my friend Fran before I reminisce a bit about our boy Stan. First of all, I bring you greetings, sympathy, love, and hugs from the Big Five of 1981: Wendy Young, Gus Krucke, Danny Stohl, Beth McLeod, and Earby Matheny, who is visiting Wendy right now with his wife and five children, and his mother-in-law. In fact, six of these people are staying at our house while we’re here with you.

Fran, you are an inspiration to everyone in this room. You always talk about others as being your role models, but you, my dear, are the consummate role model. During the thirty something years that we have been friends, you have lost both parents, your only two sisters-in-law, Stan’s father, Bob’s son, and then Bob. Through all of these losses, your faith has never wavered, you have comforted others when they were at a loss as to how to comfort you, and you smiled . . . sometimes with tears in your eyes, but nevertheless, we were cheered by that beautiful smile.

On Wednesday morning, Stan also went to be with the Lord. I’m sure you’ve asked, “Why, Lord? Why Stan? He was so young and had so much life still ahead of him.” Well, dear friend, you won’t get the answers to these questions in this lifetime. Someday we’ll approach Jesus with our list of questions, and these will be among yours. Right now, your heart is so broken that you may not be seeing any light at the end of the tunnel, but I’ll give you a little saying that the Lord gave to me right after Jay died, fifteen years ago. So many well-meaning people said to me, “How will you ever get over Jay’s death?” It was so clear to me. I replied, “It’s an English-teacher thing, a lesson in prepositions . . . we’ll never get over his death, but we’ll get through it.” And get through it we did because of our faith, our prayers and the prayers of others, and the love and nurturing of Christian friends like you, Fran. You, too, will get through this agonizing time with those same three things. We love you, Fran. Let us help you in your grief as we grieve along with you.

When Bob died, you asked me to say a few words at his funeral. I couldn’t refuse my friend Fran. As Frank and I drove home from the gathering at your house on the evening before the funeral, I was getting panicky. I still hadn’t figured out what I would say or how I would say it. Again, the Lord spoke to me and gave me the answer: “Write a letter to Bob. He’d like that, especially since you never wrote a letter to him while he was alive.” I knew when you asked me to speak today that I’d have to write to Stan, too. As I was preparing to compose my letter, a quotation came back to me. Every year in April or May, I’d write this quotation on the board so that my seniors could respond to it: “Nothing rattles like an empty mailbox.” My reason for giving this quotation to them was to encourage them to write to their parents when they went away to school. I thought it appropriate for you to have a letter right now because your mailbox may be rattling from the emptiness of not having Stan right here in person with you. This letter’s for you, my dear, dear friend.

1 comment:

Gus said...

The Big Five of 1981 found their paths in this life; living, learning and exploring. A great deal of our success can be attributed to the loving guidance of our parents, though each of us remembers the special parenting we received from Fran, Sandy and Frank. Unlimited in their love for us, we all felt special when near these folks. Gently nudged, I can recall each of them saying; "Now, Gus ..." which always implied that I might consider that human nature had not changed in tens of thousands of years. What seemed so clear to me as correct or scientifically relevant was not always so true for the people I might have judged in this life. Each of them noticed that I had something more important than a good mind; a deep, loving and caring spirit. I was encouraged to cultivate it. Virginia Stephens sensed this about me as my project for her class was an old fashioned slide presentation of photographs taken of people living with many challenges at the end of life in a nursing home environment. With "Bookends" by Simon and Garfunkel in the background, I remember seeing Ms. Stephens with tears in her eyes as she watched the compelling story of the people whose lives we had only just glimpsed. Fran taught me how to appreciate that the "rules" in life were not necessarily wrong because of the thoughtless application of the unthinking. Sandy and Frank taught me that my quirky sense of humor was something to cultivate. I think they knew I would need it. Scroll forward a few years and my mind easily brings me back to these memories as I care for very, very sick people living with HIV/AIDS. For many years so many of my patients lost their struggle to this disease with me to walk with them in their final moments. What gives a mere human being the right to have access to not just one but hundreds of compelling moments? Each of the Big Five found a niche in this life which allowed us to share our gifts and our love with this world. Do Frank, Sandy and Fran have any idea how their involvement in our lives as young people now indirectly touch the lives of thousands of living souls? When we loose someone as mighty and wonderful as Stan, there is no "getting over" the loss as Sandy so wisely asserts. I would argue that we don't even get "through" it; rather we learn to travel "with it". Death forever changes our world. I believe in an existence of unbelievable peace following death. As such, it is not so hard for me to imagine that Stan is now in such a wonderful place. Because, "when he was a young man, he never thought he'd see ... people stand in line to see the boy king ..." Stan knows why all the cards fall the way they do in life because he lives with a King now; the only King that ever mattered. Much love, Gus (one of the "Big Five")