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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Sweet Dink

Turner and Dink last Christmas

My mom just called me to tell me that my sweet grandfather - Harry Eugene "Gene" Frech - just went to be with the Lord. As sad as I am - for mom and her sisters and my grandmother and our family - I feel such a peace. He would have been 93 on December 30th. I just told my mom "Wow - he went fast." We both laughed - who says that for 93?? It is all relative, I guess.
Dink with Turner (December 8, 2008 - 2 years ago today)
On Sunday, mom and I were over there as the precious nurse from hospice (I wouldn't refer to many of them as precious, but this one was a Godsend) sat down my mom and Nanny and told them it was just a matter of days. She knew what she was talking about! Mom and I were crying, and Nanny was the rock. I told her I was crying more because I was sad for her - how amazing that they were able to be together for 70 plus years!! She calmly told me it was okay, it had been sad for a while. We talked about how he would be whole again, and how this life was no way to live! She had a peace.
Lindsey said the other night when she was there, Nanny came in to say goodnight. She has 2 broken arms - so she is not moving around too great. But, she said "Night, Poppa." (They called each other Momma and Poppa among other things). She said she stopped and looked at him and said "Are you trying to tell me goodnight?" She leaned over and kissed him on the mouth and told him she loved him. She knew. Heath reminded me that while this is one of my first times dealing with the death of someone close, she has done it more times than she would have ever cared to. She has lost almost every one of her immediate family, extended and close friends.
Nanny and Dink and Grandad, last Thanksgiving
I keep praising the Lord for the time he gave me with Dink. I was able to have him for almost 30 years!!! He was so active and so "with it" for so long. Only in the last couple of years did his body beg him to surrender. He had several strokes - mostly small, but they took their toll. And he had diabetes, and it is a miracle he lasted this long because he wasn't scared to "sneak" some sugar as often as he needed!
He had SUCH a sense of humor. He was mischievous for sure. I remember how he used to wake us up at his house with a feather tickling our noses. And he would laugh and laugh as we would bat it away. And he loved to trick us. At the beach one year, he swore that there was a party on the roof of our condo. He bragged about how fun it was, but you had to be at least 15 to get up there. Of course Lindsey and Derek and I were probably 6,7, and 8 at the time. He said "I would take you - you would really love it. You're just too little!" and watched as we were frustrated. And the stories mom and her sisters tell about how he treated their friends and boyfriends are hilarious - they would have to be with a house full of 5 girls! One time Mom said that one of the sisters (it may have been her - I can't remember) was dreading going out with some boy. They were being dramatic because he evidently was less than Prince Charming. Dink told her "I bet it will be great. If he is as ugly/horrible as you say, I will give you a dollar. Cheer up!" Well, when he came to the door, Dink welcomed him in and then gave the sister a dollar right then and there.
And Dink was an AVID Auburn fan. Though he couldn't really enjoy the last several games, I know he would have. He went to Auburn back in the 30s. And Yale. Who does that??
And he loved flying. He had a plane until 2000 or 2001 - and he loved to fly us in it. He was able to teach my cousin Mike how to fly and share that passion with him. He finally had to give up his pilot's license when he was 82 or so - and did it VERY begrudgingly!
He loved the beach - he still has 3 condos, and we went down there with him up until last summer! One of his favorite feelings was his feet in the sand right by the water. And he was able to share that love by letting us use those condos literally hundreds - probably a thousand times over the last years. He bought the Panama City one in the 70s. It is where my parents met on a blind date, and it is where we celebrated Kate's 3rd birthday this summer! There is a drawing of him as a cartoon character, walking on the beach with a big goofy grin. That is so him!
He was so generous. He helped us be able to enjoy Briarwood and Auburn and listened to us whine enough to buy Lindsey and me a Camry to share at Auburn. Then he drove down with my parents and surprised us with it! And Derek drove that thing until earlier this year - I am surprised the wheels didn't literally fall off, the way we treated that thing! But, I also remember a family living illegally on some of their property years ago. While it annoyed him, it was in the country (well Hwy. 119 - but it was "country" then). He had several acres, and a family had been squatting (is that even the right term??) for years on his property. Well, they had a trailer and it caught on fire. He bought them a brand new one. In the same place. With all new appliances and everything. He loved on them, even as they "borrowed" land and power from him.
I am grateful that I was able to enjoy him so long. He lived next door to my parents for the last 14 or 15 years - only last year did they move to assisted living. He was a fireball - we had to explain to everyone that came to help (as they almost got kicked out of assisted living facilities) that they had to excuse him for calling them an ugly or socially inappropriate name. He wasn't going to apologize. He grew up in a different time, and made no apologies for saying things, especially in his old age. While it wasn't right, almost every one of them loved him enough to be gracious and turn the other cheek.
At Milo's with us last September
He loved loved loved his daughters and grandkids and great-grandkids. He had a stroke about 2 months before I had Turner, but he still loved to talk to me about the baby coming. He called Turner "Smiley" and his favorite picture was this one from Christmas last year.
He had it framed in their little apartment! He was amazed at how smiley and funny Turner was. He held John Burke a few times, but wasn't as able to as he was with Turner. It baffled him that we named him a double name. He kept asking Mom what we were really going to call him. :)
Dink with Burke Burke
Taken from my phone
I am grateful that Turner was able to meet him. We went over there right before Thanksgiving and Turner kept saying "Deek. Deek." And Dink even gave him five just a few weeks ago. When we went to Granny's in Andalusia, he said "Where's Deek?" He couldn't put him with Nanny, not Granny. And he laughs when I try to explain it! Yesterday I was putting his clothes on, and he said "Deek?" I said, "Dink is about to go to heaven with Jesus." And Turner looked at me like I had lost my mind and said "Deek" again. Lindsey and I took the kids over there last week, and Blake and Kate and Turner kept saying "Dink!! Hey Dink!!" Kate even said, "Mommy, he didn't talk to me this time." How nice that this was one of the first times - and it was less than a week before he died.
God keeps comforting me through the 23rd Psalm. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. Thou dost prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; Though hast anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." Thank you, Father, for sharing this precious man with us. And for guiding him (and us) through the valley of the shadow of death. I praise you that you have taken him home!!
*Sidenote - please pray for our family over the next days and weeks. I love blogs because I am able to sit here in the middle of the night and remember my grandfather with best friends and strangers all at once. Forgive the ranting and the fact that I didn't have better pictures of his whole life on hand. What a blessing that I was able to have so many from the last couple of years, though!


  1. Praying for all of you! What great memories and years you had with him! Thanks for sharing what is on your mind, it is never easy no matter how old someone is or the circumstances.

  2. Awe, Kelly. I'm so sorry for your loss. What a long, great life he had!

    Praying for you guys!

  3. What a beautiful tribute to your Dink. Thank-you for sharing a little bit of his life with us. He sounds wonderful. So sorry for your loss. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. I am in precious and sweet. I absolutely love that he shared 70+ years with your grandmother. What a wonderful man! I am praying for y'all...and I am so glad you shared!!!

  5. Loved reading all the memories. It is so funny about that generation and how they say whatever they think. My grandmother never liked it when Laura Beth wore her hair curly, she would always ask, "Are you going to fix your hair?" And she never liked (I'm sure she got used to it after awhile) that my parents didn't call Kate, Katherine. Praying for your family.

  6. Kelly, what a BEAUTIFUL post!! I have wept through the whole thing! Thank you for sharing! I have always loved hearing Dink stories and enjoyed being filled with even more. I will be praying for your sweet family during this time!

  7. So sorry to hear about your loss!! Will be remembering ya'll in my prayers!!!! Memories are so great in times like these and in the years to come!!! Angie and Eddie

  8. Praying for you and your family, Kelly. I enjoyed reading your memories - what a blessing to have him as long as you did!

  9. Praying for you and your sweet family!

  10. Ok I just tried to post a comment but I don't think it worked, so I'll try again. :)

    I found your blog from Megan's and have been lurking from afar. This sweet post just made me cry. It is clear that your Dink led a very rich, full life and was so loved by many! It is so hard to lose a grandparent, no matter how long of a life they lived.

    I lost both of my grandfathers several years ago, one after suffering years from Parkinson's, and the other right before his 94th birthday {also on Dec 30th!). Though I know they are in a much better place, I still grieve for them.

    I will be praying for your family as you mourn the loss of your sweet grandfather.