Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘Fred Friswold

Final Rest

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Under the wearisome pall of constraints in place due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Cyndie’s family orchestrated a laudable graveside service for a small number of family and friends to say final goodbyes to her dad, Fred Friswold, under a mostly cloudy but otherwise dry Saturday. Masks were required and reasonable social distancing requested for the limited 30-minute window of time allowed by Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

We were instructed to arrive at a precise time and remain in our cars until ushered in a parade of vehicles to the gravesite.

The Friswolds have a family plot where Cyndie’s grandparents, her aunt, and her sister have now been joined by her father’s ashes.

In an unfortunate but inconsequential oversight, the canopy ordered to protect from possible rain was missing. The threat of precipitation waned as the appointed hour drew near and by the time we stood as a scattered group to hear various readings and prayers, there were a couple of brief openings in the clouds that revealed blue sky and bathed us in sunshine.

A flock of wild turkeys idly wandered past as if we weren’t there.

Masks served to catch many tears.

From the cemetery, we all drove to the University of Minnesota where the staff of the McNamara Alumni Center –the building Fred and two alumni buddies were instrumental in shepherding to existence– provided a pandemic-constrained space for a meal and program.

It was a day for which I’m confident Fred would approve, partially because only a fraction of the people who would have gushed over his greatness were able to be present so to do.

He touched a lot of people’s lives and impacted exponentially more who never knew him.

I appreciated hearing three different perspectives from people in his world of financial guidance to the YMCA and U of M, as they revealed to me how little first-hand exposure I had to anything but his home and family life.

Fred died in June from a cancer diagnosed the previous December which only compounded preexisting heart and lung ailments. He was clear-minded and fully aware right to the end. In the months since he died, the new reality of his being gone from us was settling in. Yesterday’s events have served to punctuate anew the depths of how much he is missed.

It’s a shame the end of life celebrations are so difficult to hold during a pandemic.

Cyndie’s family did a fine job of achieving all they possibly could under the circumstances.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2020 at 9:06 am

Restorative Return

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We slept in our own bed again last night. It had been almost a week since Delilah had seen Cyndie and the reunion aligned entirely with the hypothesis that dogs perceive absence to be the equivalent of death and if a pack-mate returns, it is a miracle.

Cyndie reported that her gardens looked so thirsty for water that a few plants appeared within inches of demise. The labyrinth is a jungle. That will be our first project this morning. It deserves a double-team effort. I hope to get the rest of the grass mowed before predicted afternoon thunderstorms.

One highlight of yesterday was a call from our log home company announcing their plan to arrive tomorrow to begin preparing to reseal our logs.

Thank goodness.

We have seized the moment to eat breakfast in bed, catch up with our online accounts, and take in some favorite Sunday morning TV before setting out on our labors of the day.

Both the obituary and feature article for Cyndie’s dad made it into the Sunday StarTribune newspaper and she and her brothers continue their efforts to fill in the pages of the memorial website for Fred.

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fredfriswoldmemorial.com

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The beginning of life-after-Fred is unfolding with not-unexpected fits and starts, but we are underway as best as we are able. Not doing too bad, if I do say so myself.

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Written by johnwhays

June 28, 2020 at 9:17 am

Many Feels

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Time moves fast and time moves slowly even though it is always moving at the same pace. Our feelings are doing the same in the days immediately following Fred’s passing. Grief processes slowly, but comes on fast and furious in waves. Luckily, laughter comes just as fast. The Friswold family has plenty of laughs. In fact, I would say they are predominantly laughs.

Cyndie and I have been sleeping at her parent’s house –I hesitated writing that, avoiding the change to referring to it as her “mom’s house”– along with Barry and Carlos. Other immediate family have been showing up throughout each day and we have enjoyed the trials and tribulations of crying and laughing our way through the essential steps of what all families face after a death.

Hugging. If only we could hug all the precious people who have been stopping by with gracious gifts of sustenance and well-wishes, and more importantly, the shared sorrow of loss at the thought of no longer being able to hear Fred laugh again.

Curses to the coronavirus.

I truly hope we will be spared the tragedy of inadvertently experiencing a rash of COVID-19 spread among any of us in our moments of weakness when we give in to our emotions and reach out to touch each other, be it ever so briefly.

We’ve got the obituary figured out and submitted to run in Sunday’s Startribune newspaper and been in communication with the reporter who is also writing a feature remembrance.

Much energy is underway to populate a specific website we have created for Fred. See Fred Friswold Memorial.

Planning some manner of memorial service or celebration of life is proving maddeningly difficult under the current health constraints of the pandemic.

So many feelings all at the same time. Very happy-sad.

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Written by johnwhays

June 27, 2020 at 11:10 am

Incredible Person

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There are some things I find difficult to write about, even though writing my thoughts is what I am most often inclined to do. It’s been on my mind for some time that I should consider writing something to honor my father-in-law, Fred Friswold, but the task seemed too daunting. How could I do justice to such a heroic specimen of a human being? Especially when I know some of his flaws.

Well, in the end, I understand that attempting to do justice counts about as much as actually achieving it. And, his flaws are few and rather frivolous.

I’ve already written about the fact I won the jackpot in the in-law lottery. That tells much about the way I feel to have had the privilege of being granted the highest honor of becoming a member of the Friswold family.

Fred Friswold was an incredible person. Often, the first thing people think of about Fred is the robustness of his greetings and the reverberating heartiness of his laugh. It seemed an incredible injustice that his voice was taken from him in the last months of his life. However, not once did I witness him give in to self-pity or anger over the loss.

Suddenly we found ourselves needing to quiet down and look to him in order to hear what he had to say. It became an endearing thing to process the sound of his whispers. It has made the sound of his raucous pronouncements and booming guffaws all the more precious in our memories.

In the absence of my own father, who died shortly after I married Cyndie at my ripe old age of 22, it was Fred who became my reference for figuring out how to be a husband and a dad. It didn’t make things easy for me. When I struggled to navigate challenges that required repair around the house, realizing I didn’t know how to fix things the way my dad did, Cyndie would suggest we do what her dad did. Look in the Yellow Pages.

The man knew his limitations. Not that he didn’t tackle a few of his own do-it-yourself projects. He painted their house once. And, accidentally, a little of the neighbor’s house next door, too, using a sprayer. He must have liked spray painting. Late in life, he enlisted my labor to do a quick job of painting a new baseboard around their deck. Wouldn’t take long. He had all the stuff necessary for the job.

A can of spray paint. I spent 90-minutes taping up newspaper to protect the light-colored siding from the dark brown deck for the 10-minute job of painting.

One thing Fred never did was make me feel like I didn’t belong or wasn’t meeting his expectations, despite his high regard for academic achievement and career accomplishments. I didn’t receive the frequent queries seeking to hear what the 5-year plan was. Maybe a few “What did you do for your country today?” queries, but if my answer was that I rode my bike a respectable distance, he found a way to work with that.

Of course, we are absolutely heartbroken that his life has reached its end, but it pains us even more that it has happened at a time of the pandemic when we are unable to gather the throngs who also knew and loved him in order to process our shared grief.

Fred Ravndal Friswold was a truly incredible person for whom my words are insufficient to adequately describe.

He was an endearingly loud person who went out in a whisper.

We will, and do already, miss him in the extreme.

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Written by johnwhays

June 26, 2020 at 7:36 am

He’s Free

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In Loving Memory

Fred R. Friswold

21 Jan 1937 — 24 Jun 2020

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Written by johnwhays

June 25, 2020 at 6:00 am

Return Appearance

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It is challenging to chronicle the uncertain timing of the otherwise inevitable end of the life of a family member. In-person, a question often lingers over whether the latest departure salutation might actually be the last goodbye. Cyndie and her brothers have been rotating days of tending to their father in his hospice-care phase of life for several months. The task is now being transferred to professionals at a nearby hospice facility, unfortunately, under the current constraints of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

It appears we have reached timing now measured in a matter of days, possibly even hours.

A hospice facility is a precious place. I had a great experience at a home where my mother spent her final days and our family was able to gather around her. It breaks my heart that we will be unable to do that for Cyndie’s dad. Visitation is very limited to protect everyone from the coronavirus.

I scanned some of my past “Words on Images” posts to see if something might grab me in this moment and chose “Appearance” from just about a year ago.

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Sending F.R.F. to a higher plane with beams of love and peacefulness…

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Written by johnwhays

June 24, 2020 at 6:00 am

Precious Memorial

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The Christmas holiday brought a bundle of family events which required that we do a lot of driving. For three days in a row, we drove the over two-hour-long round trip distance, twice a day on two of those. It was all worth it, but when yesterday arrived with no agenda requiring we leave our home, the exhaustion hit and we luxuriated in the gift of staying put.

IMG_4211eIn the afterglow of the Christmas eve and Christmas day events, Friday the 26th became an additional day of precious activities with Cyndie’s family. We started in the morning by gathering at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, where we visited the graves of some of their relatives, including Cyndie’s sister, Michelle, who died at the age of 4 in 1967 as a result of leukemia.

It took some hunting to locate the grave sites, but with the benefit of the lack of snow cover, it didn’t take long to find the markers. Some flowers were laid and then a few members of the family read portions of a memorial prayer that second brother, Barry, had composed.

IMG_4209eThis is the first time the entire family has visited the graves together, which made this a particularly special occasion. Michelle’s death occurred on December 14th, so the Christmas season for Cyndie and her parents and siblings has a way of bringing with it memories of that time in 1967.

As the middle of the day approached, we headed across the city to take a tour of the new auditorium under construction at the Masonic Children’s Hospital at the University of Minnesota. The family connection to the U of M is strong, but the connection to the Children’s Hospital is especially poignant.

IMG_4217eThe Friswold family has adopted a room in memory of Michelle. We were able to visit a similar adjacent room which was vacant, to see the special features available to children and their families as a result the financial contributions.

A significant effort is made to give the kids being treated as much control over their environment as possible. A touch-screen monitor is suspended on an arm that, among other things, allows the child to remotely control the window shades and alter the color of the room lighting. Of course, I only remember those features because they are the ones our group played with while exploring the room.

To top the day off, we finished with a special private dinner event at the U of M McNamara Alumni Center UofMAlumniCenteralong with the family of Fred Friswold’s frat brother from the class of ’58, Larry Laukka. The Friswold and Laukka families have been getting together regularly at Christmastime the last few years, and this year the two patriarchs took it up a notch, bringing us on campus to share the full story of their incredible persistence as the volunteers who dreamed up and pulled off the incredible accomplishment of this world-class building.

It was a spectacular way to conclude the flurry of holiday family gatherings. Cyndie’s family is very precious, indeed, and I am a lucky man to be included as one of their own.

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In-Law Jackpot

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It was at Christmastime about 34 years ago that I embarked on the first steps of a journey that has proved to be more remarkable than I dreamed would be possible for me. I won the in-law lottery. I hit the jackpot. I will never comprehend what it was like for Cyndie’s parents to deal with the fact that I had asked for permission to marry their daughter —their first-born child, for heaven’s sake— but for me it was just a mind-numbing step in my magical journey of life.

Sometimes when I think back on it, I feel astounded that they said yes. I owe Fred and Marie Friswold more appreciation than I have been able to convey. How can I adequately express what it has meant to me to be accepted into their family? The immensity of my gratitude is beyond what I have ever thought to speak.

FredMarieDSC02641From that very day when I asked for their blessing to take Cyndie’s hand in marriage —when Marie’s first response came out as shock that I was asking her while she was in the middle of untangling Christmas lights— I have fallen short of telling them what they have deserved to hear.

Once again, I resort to writing. It is my preferred means. I figured maybe I would get a Christmas card for them and write a heart-felt note. Thinking about what I should write, I realized it would probably need to be a letter. That quickly led to this: a blog post. Even though they are humble enough to likely favor I had stuck with the card idea, I would like to profess my appreciation for them to the world.

It’s not like the years have been without turmoil. I am embarrassed for the number of times I failed to mask my preference to be back among the Hays way of doing things when in the midst of all things Friswold. It has always turned out to be a small price to pay. For the most part, I have been blessed with the opportunity to bask in the greatness that Fred and Marie create. Their generosity and patience is immeasurable. They have taken me to places I never thought possible, and provide never-ending support to me, Cyndie’s and my marriage, and to our children. Their acceptance and support of me is a precious gift I treasure more than any other.

Christmas is a particularly special time when their saintliness shines. They care for others with boundless benevolence. I always receive from them more than what I feel I deserve, but that is not how they measure their giving.

Fred and Marie have succeeded in the art of family where so many others have failed. It is a wonder to behold and an amazing thing to experience first hand, as their son-in-law. I owe them credit for more than I can grasp about who I am and what I have experienced.

Either written or spoken, what they mean to me really is greater than words. If you are reading this, I hope you have a sense of how blessed I feel and an inkling of the grandiosity of jackpot with which I have been blessed. I hope Fred and Marie will sense that I am more grateful to them than I ever have been, or ever will be able to say.

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Written by johnwhays

December 20, 2014 at 11:27 am