Thursday, April 10, 2008

FEB 94: MEETING FRANK

Before the Maynes and I arrived at the Stockshow Cindy told me about a gentleman named Frank with FA whom I would be meeting there! She said he was one of the most determined and amazing people she had ever met! (I agree) Frank did not appear to be someone interested in going to a Stockshow. He was an Italian guy, originally from New York, with a heavy accent, and tattoos. He was wearing a tank top with a pair of loudly colored MC Hammer pants (I have heard them called weight lifting pants before). Hey, give the man a break for it was the early 90’s, and I hear they are very comfortable! (A couple of years to go Sara, Frank, and I were talking and we were laughing at him always wearing those types of pants back in the day! He just shook his head and said “What was I thinking?" LOL) Frank was already in a wheelchair, and in his early 30’s. Frank had a late onset of FA. So he did not begin to see signs until he was about 19, and he officially was not diagnosed until his mid-20s. FA does not discriminate on age, or race.

Here is a picture of Frank and I. I am not exactly sure when this photo was taken, but long ago.
Frank quickly became my mentor. I would look to him for advice as he could understand me better than anyone else. He had a good sense of humor and a very quick witt! He was (and still is) an amazing individual with a good head on his uncoordinated shoulders! He was living on his own in a beautiful home, with a wonderful job, and driving himself everywhere. He was very big into exercising and staying fit (did you see the dudes arms in that picture, hello!). He was the President for Disability Sports of North Texas. Was riding a hand bike (New York marathon 2x and tons of others), playing Bocce Ball and playing tennis. He probably did more than just those because you name it and he did it. He also participated in the Paralympics. He was doing all of these things from a wheelchair not to mention while having FA! FA is not in a easy disability to categorize because it is hard to figure out areas that would make it fair for us as far as the Paralympics go. Traveling while having FA is no easy task but Frank did not let that get in his way for he traveled not only with work, fun, but also for the Paralympics team. What an inspiration he was to me!

Besides going to the Stockshow together we did a lot of things together. I will mention a couple of them for they are funny.

Sometime in March 1994 Frank called me to ask me if I would like to see the site's along with his brother and best friend from New York as they were in town. He said that his brother and best friend would be there to help push us in our chairs and stuff. They were going to Dallas and I had not been yet. I thought the world of Frank so I knew I would get along well with his brother and best friend. His brother Mike was a New York cop and so was his best friend Louie (who was also a volunteer fireman, woo hoo!) So when they came to pick me up I was of course a little intimidated to be around all these NY Cops. Louie drove Frank’s van while Frank sat in the passenger's seat while Mike and I sat in the back. It did not take long for me to warm up to these guys. They were cracking me up they were so funny. So we went to the Dallas West End and walk/rolled around there with all the shops and different places. We were all getting hungry at that point, so the guys decided they wanted to go to Hooters. I was outnumbered and not going to argue so I just had to grin and bear it!! I had the best hot ham and cheese sandwich I had ever eaten so I was not complaining. Since we left in the early afternoon I knew that I'd better go to the bathroom while I'm there. So I asked the waitress if she could show me where the restroom was. We went in the restroom, and I got a little nervous. There was nobody else in the restroom!! So ladies if you are ever out and about and need to go to the restroom really bad and want to go somewhere where you know there's no lines…Hooters is the place to go! The waitress was so nice, for at that time I did not need any assistance in the restroom but she said she would wait with me just in case I needed anything. That meant more to me than my awesome hot him and cheese sandwich! When I came back to the table Louie had spilled his drink and Frank and I just laughed and laughed saying how we should be the ones to spill the drink! From there we went to see the Dallas Stars hockey game. It was great! I only watch hockey when it is life for I love the excitement of the crowd. I spent the whole day with these guys and did not stop laughing.

It has been quite a while since I have seen Mike or Louie in anything other than pictures. The both of them were not harmed during 9/11, which is a big blessing! They both have family’s now and are doing great!

The other story I wanted to share with you happened in September of 1994. Frank and I were chatting on the phone when he mentioned that he had been trying all day to get Metallica tickets. I told him that I liked that group and they were the only heavy metal group I did like. He had a hard time believing that of me to even like any heavy metal group. So he called me back a little later to invite me a long to the concert with him and one of his friends. He probably thought I would gracefully bow down from taking the ticket, but I accepted! I was all excited. I did my best on trying to look older. When David and Frank arrived I got in the van, and off we went. The concert was at the Starplex in Dallas and the closer we got the more congested the traffic became. Even though we parked in a handicapped accessible parking place there was still aways to roll to get inside the stadium. David was trying to push Frank and I so that we you would be quicker! Poor guy, I am sure he worked up a sweat! As we reached the gate Frank told me he to open at my purse for the security. I was all taken back by that for that had never happened to me before. I felt a little violated, but did not blame them because of where we were. As we got to the stadium I felt like all of us crips had some of the best seating! We were sitting right behind the reserve seating. There was a ramp to get up to it, so we were taller than everybody else. It was awesome! But the only problem was that people would try to climb up on our turf to get to the reserve seating. There were security guards all up in our business trying to stop the squatters! ARGH! I know I got some second hand Mary Jane smoke if know what I'm saying!! There were several opening groups but we missed half of them and the other half I do not recall. When Metallica got on the stage it was like the whole floor was vibrating. There was no way I could talk to anybody not even between sets because my ears were ringing. I loved it. We left a couple of songs before they did their encore so we could try to get the heck outta Dodge before everyone else did. As we were leaving the parking lot we had our windows rolled down, and we could hear them playing "Enter Sandman". It was a experience and a half. And I was glad I got to experience it with Frank. Not only is he a funny guy but any time you get two people with FA together there will always be something to funny to talk about!

Around that time we also went see the movie "Forrest Gump" in the theater with our friend Marjorie. It is one of my favorite movies! And that's all I have to say about that:)

I still see Frank time to time. A year ago he got married to a wonderful and sweet woman named Jacqueline. I had the privilege of meeting her this weekend in their beautiful new home. The picture below was taken of us then. Look how much shorter I am compared to Frank! I know it is his power wheelchair for it is taller, but it makes me laugh.

He still has the same wonderful job that he did when I met him! I am very proud of Frank for several years ago he got his master's degree online. He is a very hard worker. Frank has had some health issues, but that has not slowed him down. He is no longer driving. Several years ago he was diagnosed with having diabetes. Diabetes is a common symptom for people with FA. It is under control, although he has to give himself shots of insulin twice a day and watch what he eats. He had a couple of other health issues. But it is all OK now. He is working all the time and has started back to riding his bike. He uses a Hoyer lift for most of his transfers now. Doing the same things it is not easy as they were before. And as he says if you don't use it you will lose it. I myself have proof of that!

Frank is a very special person in my life. There will never be anyone else like him. I know he has been through some hard times personally, emotionally, and physically. When I saw him this past weekend he told me that he has never been happier! I could not be more thrilled for him as he deserves it! He is still an inspiration to me!

Do you have someone in your life that has been a mentor, or someone you have looked up to that you would like to share? I would love to hear.

Thanks for taking the time to read, Miss S

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am very touched by tour blog. I know what an amazing man Frank is but it's an honor to know that others feel the same way! I feel very fortunate to be married to such an incredible man! I hope you don't mind but I forwarded your blog to Franks friends and family. They would appreciate knowing how highly others are touched by Frank. Thanks for sharing. Many blessings- Your new friend, Jacqueline

Parisjasmal said...

What a great post about your dear friend Frank.
I feel like I almost know him after hearing about him all these years.
And yes I did see the dude's muscles!
Weren't you and Frank going to go to Australia for bocce ball at one time?

OK so the thought of YOU at Hooters with Frank and his New York Cop brother and friend is CRACKING ME UP!!!!!
Oh and you at the Metallica concert??!! Somewhere Greg H. is smiling!
ROFL about the "crips" having the best seats!

I would say my Aunt Marlene has been a mentor to me. But you already know all about her.

Loved this post and I am so glad you got to meet Frank's wonderful wife Jacqueline AND the precious precious Ranger!!!!!

Much love my metal head diva!!
xo

MISS S said...

Jacueline~I am glad you liked it, the pleasure was all mine I am glad you liked it! I am so glad that we are friends.

Parisjasmal~Frank and I were going to be partners in bocce ball for the Paralympics. It was in Australia I think that year. You have a good memory. We could have said Sydney on three, Sydney on three for real!
xo

curlgirl623 said...

I am absolutely faklempt. Being Frank's cousin, I know he is an extraordinary man. His spirit and determination inspire me always. It is wonderful to see him get recognition in your heartwarming post.
Thank you for sharing,
Annemarie

~*Miss Melis*~ said...

I love this post! (of course, I love them all!) Just reading what you said about Frank and how you described him was an inspiration to me. He sounds like an awesome friend and person.

I loved your use of "crips." I had to read it twice for I couldn't believe my eyes. You make me laugh!

There are a few people who inspire me, all for different reasons and in different ways. At the risk of sounding like a suck-up, you are one of those people. I feel blessed to have you as a friend. We have known each other a long time, but I feel like we have really gotten closer over the past few years thanks to the wonderful e-mails we exchange and I am so glad we have. You always give great advice and cheer me up when I need it and I'm grateful for that. I am inspired reading your blog and always amazed when you talk about going through something similar to me. It's nice to know someone can relate.

Keep up the good work! Hope you are well!

My Love Always!

MISS S said...

Miss M~ U SUCK UP!!! For reals though, the feeling is mutual. Like you there are different people who inspire me in different ways. You are also one for me. There are sometimes when I read your e-mails and take a look back in amazement at how you handle yourself. Your friendship has definitely been a blessing in my life. Thank you so much for all the complements.
XO

Lee W. said...

your blog about frank is very actual and factual(as i remember).
i meet him back in the day, we played wheelchair rugby, bowling at don carters, were does the yrs. go?
we could scare anyone with our driving. as i remember he is/was devoted to his job. we have lost contact over the yrs. i would like to c him sometime.
Lee W.