This is the post I never wanted to make. And it was the last thing on my mind when waking up a week ago last Saturday. But my little buddy Frank unexpectedly passed away last Saturday afternoon.
It’s taken over a week to maintain enough composure to post about it. But I wanted the focus to be on honoring Frank, not on my own sense of loss and heartache. He deserves that!
For what it’s worth, Frank didn’t show any suffering for long. Although, it’s hard for me to think back and wonder if I didn’t misinterpret some of his slowing down. Without going into any more details than are necessary, Frank woke up that Saturday morning and seemed the same as on Friday, when he was rolling around in dirt and as playful as he ever. I even took a photo of the beautiful sunrise we had and made a post or two about baseball, of all things!
Frank spent a little time in my arms as he always did after my first cup of coffee. I don’t remember everything we talked about. Nothing of any import. I told him about Bob Costas getting into the Hall of Fame before Barry Bonds and Frank grinned about that. He wasn’t too fond of Bonds. Felt he gave a bad connotation to the phrase “dogging it”. But we talked a little bit about this and that and then started about our day.
It wasn’t too long before I noticed Frank was in obvious discomfort. He had diarrhea and was having a hard time walking. I picked him up and put him in the cabin for a minute to think about what I was going to do. I had an appointment for him already set up in San Diego the following week. Frank suddenly appeared in the doorway then, asking to be held again. So I did for a few minutes more while talking to him about what we needed to do here. But it was obvious that something was wrong.
I found an emergency vet and got the terrible news. Frank had a very large mass in his stomach and it had evidently started bleeding. And there was nothing we could do except ease his pain.
So I did what had to be done. In less than an hour and a half from when Frank first let on that something serious was wrong, he was gone. Out of pain and discomfort. I’ll just say that Frank knew to the end that he was loved. And leave it at that.
I could try to put together words that sum up the time Frank and I shared together. But I don’t think I could come up with anything better than what long-time friend Dale wrote and shared on my Facebook page. It not only captures what Frank and I shared but also what Frank meant to so many people that crossed his path:
“My friend Jeff lost his faithful companion and best friend, yesterday. It was sudden and unexpected I believe the Divine power of the Creator/ God or whichever name you call it; gives us angels to help us through the tough parts of life. And they come in many disguises. Frank was there to help Jeff when the world looked dark and unpleasant and he led him to see light and hope and find compassion and love from friends and love of self.
Frank shared himself with the world around Jeff and those of us who are included in that world found Frank to be an amazing little angel, indeed. It’s not goodbye. It is until we meet again I know he will be there at the rainbow bridge when it’s Jeff’s time to make the journey whenever that is. So long for now, Frank I know you will check in on your buddy now and then. Thank you for being Jeff’s healing angel!
Frank was definitely my angel. He wasn’t just a four-legged companion. He was my compadre. My confidant. And he was definitely the smarter of the two vagabonds that left Charleston, SC over two and a half years ago.
Frank was also the Chief Navigator of this journey, although I think he’d agree that he was more than happy to let the GPS do the bulk of his work. But maybe that’s because he was taking a much deserved break. After all, it’s easy to see in retrospect that Frank’s navigation duties began from the time we met in early summer 2014, when almost from day one he took it upon himself to steer me through that pretty rough time in my life Dale mentioned. Initially, he worked to bring me out of it. And even when that failed, he kept me alive simply by having agreed to stay in my care. You can read more about that on the About Us pages. But in simple terms, I would not be here today if it weren’t for Frank.
One of the things he and I used to do at the end of a day on the road was to count our blessings. Even on tough days, we’d take a few minutes to do that. What blessings might come out of this, you ask? Well, If you look, it’s not hard to find them.
The timing of it. A day later, and all of this would have been happening after packing up and while in transit to San Diego. Two months earlier, we were out in the middle of nowhere, boondocking. In either of those situations, Frank could have passed in pain while lying on the passenger seat as I was trying to get him somewhere.
The closest Banfield vets were both closed. On a Saturday in Palm Springs!?!? By happenstance, I found another vet who couldn’t have shown more kindness and compassionate care to an old dog … and to the old man who was about to lose his closest friend. They even waived all fees, including Frank’s cremation. Without my asking, they offered to write off the fees against an angel fund to help those in need.
A friend and fellow full-time camper, John, reached out and invited me to spend the holidays with him at his camp just south of Prescott, AZ. That’s where I’ve been for the last week. John’s roommate and confidant, Jake, a big black lab, has sensed that something has happened, I think. He’s spent a lot of time sitting next to me and making sure I’ve gotten my quota of dog kisses. But more than that, John has offered to help get me better squared away to go off grid, something that I’ve been itching to do for quite a while now, but have been a bit afraid to do, given how little I know. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity right now if it weren’t for the circumstances.
More than anything, I’ve been overwhelmed by all the outpouring of love and support that has come to us since December 16th. More about that…
I posted about Frank’s passing that Saturday afternoon and shared it with 4 Facebook groups to which I belong. The last I looked a few days ago, more than 2,000 people have acknowledged Frank’s passing. Those posts were shared more than an additional three dozen or so times by others. And between comments, personal messages, emails, texts, and phone calls, more than a thousand people have expressed their own thoughts about Frank’s passing. I had no idea that he had touched that many people.
I heard from people that said they met us here and there along our way. I heard from others whose names I didn’t even recognize, who said they were “following the story of Frank and Jeff”! I had no idea! If only Frank had an Inkling of how many people he touched. But then, he really didn’t care about that! All he really seemed to care about was protecting me. Taking care of me, And the two of us being happy together. And food.
That sort of leads into the other way I’m going to honor Frank. I need to continue the journey he and I started. And to do that, I need to face reality And acknowledge that I can’t do that on my own. So I need to make room for another companion. He won’t replace Frank. Actually, he can’t. In actuality, Frank did his job completely. He bridged the gap between where I was back then and where I’m at now. He brought me to a place of mental and emotional well-being … with a willingness to engage with the world again.
The next companion will have another task – to help me get back to physical health. More walking, more off leash hikes, and less sitting. I pray that I’m led to meet and recognize this dog the way it happened with Frank.
So vaya con Dios, my little compadre. You will always be in my heart. And Frank,while you may be gone, you will never be forgotten. I love you, buddy … and I pray that you are at peace and happy.