Good Sunday to you all. It's certainly been a momentous week in my life and there's been a lot of love, prayers and encouraging messages. My second hip operation was supposed to have taken place at the end of October. Yet, I was extremely thrilled when, due to my wonderfully fast recovery on my left hip, I was allowed to have it on Aug 6th. I picked this date because it was on a Tuesday, as was the April 30th surgery. On Aug 7th I was in the hospital until about 5:30 and then I came home. Nineteen years before on Aug. 7th 2003 I got a phone call from my sister who told me that my brother Frank had been hospitalized ( for the 3rd time in 2 weeks).
The call came in sometime around noon if my memory serves. I remember the day very clearly. I was having a conversation, with a friend, a very special artist named Frank. I had been trying, for quite some time, to get him to come to my loft and have a conversation about a tragedy that had happened in his life, his mother's death. The circumstances of her death were very difficult for him to talk about and I can't truly express how long of a process this was. How many conversations, how many attempts that it took for him to sit down with me and tell me his story. Yet over time he began to trust me and finally we had met and were just beginning our conversation. You see, I wanted to investigate if I could use, his story about his mother in a work most probably, an opera.
When the phone rang, I picked it up after a few rings and went through the process of hearing what had happened. As I was doing this, I glanced at Frank, the more he listened to my part of the conversation, the more nervous he became. Here he was, beginning the process of speaking about a terrible tragedy in his life and at that very moment another one began to unfold in front of him. Well, I got off the phone, filled him in on the details, my brother, Frank, had had a stroke and he was being evaluated.
The atmosphere in my loft changed palpably as we sat there. Frank was increasingly uncomfortable and I began to check train times to Poughkeepsie which is where I was headed. Between my movement and Frank's increasing anxiety it became clear that something else was going on here. Frank was visibly disturbed and couldn't let go of the strange synchronicity that had suddenly enveloped us both. The very bizarre truth? Frank and I never met at my loft again. We never reconvened to speak about his experience, we saw each other some years later and he freely offered his condolences about my brother. I took the 7 train which was across the Newtown Creek in Queens to Grand Central Station. Hopped on a train and arrived two and one half hours later.
When I arrived I found many others at the hospital. My sister, mother and father, l called my cousin Josephine who lived very close by and she came over as soon as she could. Eventually the Dr's asked to speak to my sister and myself. They explained the situation. Frank had a stroke and they were evaluating. In the previous weeks he had had two heart attacks.
During the second heart attack he was again, in a Poughkeepsie hospital and I spoke to him over the phone. I had a sense of what was going on that is, that my brother was not following Dr's orders. I started to question him about his behavior and how he was taking his medication, finally in frustration I heard myself say - "Frank what are you trying to do? If you are in such a hurry to depart why not just blow your brains out!" I could feel the curtain rise and a smile of sorts come to his face as my brother replied "You're the only one who can always see through me". We continued to speak for a bit, and he promised me he would be more diligent about his medication and his take care of himself.
My brother was on life support in a private room and they were taking a battery of tests to determine the damage that the stroke had caused. Josephine arrived, other people were informed and after spending a lot of time there, some went home, some stayed.
The next morning they had their determination and my sister and I were called to have a conversation about my brother's future. Arriving in a room where we could talk my sister and I met with the Dr's. A full explanation of his condition came to a close and I asked a very direct question. "Dr. is it fair to say that what has happened to my brother is that the stroke has blown his brains out?" He answered in the affirmative and said there was no brain function.
My sister and I were there because we were charged to make the decision to take Frank off of life support. We gave them the OK and they eventually came and shut off the machines and took out all the tubes.
It took Frank 9 or 10 hours to pass. It was a tribute to the strength of his heart, yet inevitably he passed. Other family members had come that morning, and everyone said their goodbyes in their own way. Aug 7th - Aug 8th 2003. I couldn't possibly have known then, that I would be in a hospital after surgery on Aug 7th, 2019 and waking up at home on Aug 8th to continue my recovery. Sixteen years after our great family tragedy occurred. My friend Frank could have never known that while he was reliving his family's tragedy, that my own family's tragedy and my brother's death the next day. The reality of his passing continues to ripple out into the universe and our lives. I trust that he has moved on to other realities and that his soul is as expansive as it was during his time here.
There's so much more to say about him, I don't think it's a time for that to happen here. He was, in many ways, the best of us. A very social, loving person, who very much took after my grandfather Francesco, whom he was named after. They looked very much alike and he was very much my grandfather's favorite. They were both extremely generous people and would light up the party as soon as they entered. He was a very talented drummer and a great dancer. He was an absolutely wonderful father to his kids and as imperfect in his relationships as any of us. He had a great deal of talent as an excavator and could operate enormous machines and make them dance. He love fishing and hunting and we had some wonderful adventures together. His love for dogs and other animals was famous. He even kept ostrich, when my brother was alive, there was never a dull moment at his house. He was full of surprises. Once, for Mother's Day, he cajoled my sister to go with him and he collected a baby calf which he presented to my mother for her present. When my mother would tell this story she would laugh all the way through.
My life would be very different if he were still alive, the loss for me has been immeasurable and as well as the ever present feeling that I should have done more while he was alive.
In closing, I'll return to the beginning as it were. It's been a very eventful week and many wonderful blessings have been afforded me, not to mention, that I am still here privileged to recuperate and thrive. However, there was, clearly, much more that happened during this week and I wanted to share these memories with you. I send the blessings that are all around me to my brother Frank. And wish him godspeed on all of his further adventures.
Thank you all for being with me today. Thomas