In 2003, my grandfather, John Edward Frawley, passed away. It was the first time I had ever experienced a death in the family.
After his death at 76, the only thing I wanted was the flag that was draped on his casket as he was a member of the United States Army. My mother and her four siblings agreed to give me the flag.
I’ve had it since then, but it was tucked away in a vacuum bag to protect it. For more than a decade I had been casually looking at getting a case for it with a plaque commemorating his time in the service at the tail end of World War II.
For various reasons, just never got it done.
I had written in the past (An Ode to John E. Frawley) that my grandfather seemed to care more about my education than I did. He passed away a year before I graduated high school, seven years before I got my college diploma and a decade before my professional career began.
I simply cannot begin to comprehend how proud he would have been if he could see me now.
Today would have been his 91st birthday, and for my 32nd birthday (on Sunday), Chrissy surprised me by getting it framed, complete with the plaque. Chrissy actually gave it to me this past weekend (she couldn’t wait) and I was absolutely floored. I actually cried opening it.
With the help of my mother, Chrissy included a couple pictures of my maternal grandfather from his time in the Philippines.
Wednesday I put it on the wall at our house, in the living room, on display for all to see rather than packed away waiting to get framed.
It’s the best gift ever. Sure, I could have done it myself — like I probably should have a decade earlier. Chrissy did it instead, without my knowledge, and did a far better job with it than I could have. I was brought to tears because I think I took for granted the time he was with us. I never recalled telling him how much his support meant to me and how much love I had for him.
It took his passing for me to realize how much he meant to me. It’s kind of crappy how that works; we never notice the importance of people close to us until they’re gone. But it happens. It’s life.
Now I’ve got the reminder — in plain view to see every day — just how much he means to me.