Frank Straka

Last Saturday, my sister-in-law, Angie, and I were out for a long training run on the Poudre River Trail. For the first hour or so, Angie, working hard to keep a pace and be heard over the gusting wind, related a story about her father, Frank Straka.

Frank had been in the hospital in Salida recently after experiencing high blood pressure and what seemed to be minor stroke symptoms.

Although the family has been relatively close over the last few years, Angie and her siblings have had their share of difficult relational obstacles, many of them associated with their father, Frank.

Angie explained, as we huffed and puffed against the wind, that as she tried to discuss some of the recent family tension with Frank in his hospital room, he had asked her to stop talking about those issues. He could feel his blood pressure rising and didn’t want to spend his energy on those topics.

The next day, though, Angie had received a call from Frank. He related how he had experienced a deep regret the night before over focusing on petty issues and causing unnecessary dissension among his children.

Frank described how he had come to realize, alone in that dark hospital room, as he struggled with the symptoms of his high blood pressure, that it was quite possible his life could end suddenly, even though he was only in his 50’s.

In those moments, Frank recognized the relationships he had with his children were too precious to waste with insignificant quarrels. He explained to Angie that he wouldn’t waste that time any more, and they talked about how his relationship with God could bring peace to his own life and bring positive changes to his family.

As you would expect, Angie was excited about Frank’s change of heart and was looking forward to seeing how the family would be affected in days to come. We talked about how it seems that we often have to get ourselves into desperate situations to get the right perspective on life.

This morning, Angie’s sister, Kelly, who lives in San Diego, was taken into emergency surgery for a c-section to deliver a baby boy about six-weeks premature. Angie was supposed to have been at Kelly’s side for the birth in May.

As Angie rushed to make travel arrangements to go to San Diego, she was also trying everything she could think of to get in touch with Frank, whom she hadn’t spoken to for a few days, to be sure he knew about his new grandson.

It wasn’t until her plane was leaving the gate for take-off from the airport in Denver that David, Angie’s husband, called her with news about Frank.

Frank Straka was found today in his home in Salida. We don’t know exactly when he died. We only know that he’s gone.

Graciously, the pilot took Angie’s plane back to the gate, and she’s here in Colorado with her family. Yet, she’s doubly sorrowful, as she is unable to be with Kelly and her new nephew, having his own struggle to get to stable health.

Renee looked through our pictures tonight and found a photo of Frank with Gabriel, Angie’s and David’s 4-year-old-son, on his birthday in December, sitting atop the new bike he had just received as a gift from Frank. It’s a good picture, speaking at least a thousand words.

I barely knew Frank Straka. I met him at David and Angie’s wedding and have seen him on occasion over holidays and family events, but we’ve never had a real conversation, I guess. I can feel the weight of his absence tonight, though, as I think of his children and grandchildren and what they’ll miss about their father and grandfather.

I know that God does all things well. I don’t understand, though, how these things work for his good. For now, we’ll struggle to trust and hope, and we’ll hold the family in prayer.

3 thoughts on “Frank Straka”

  1. (This is Dale.) For some reason, people’s comments are occasionally being attached to the wrong posts. 2 people have commented on this “Frank Straka” post, but their comments were attached to “packing.” So, I’m copying them here for you:

    From Nathan:
    “God does all things well.”

    powerful, powerful words, mr. pratt.

    From Faith Eichman:
    Thank you for your inspirational words at this time of sorrow and also at this time of happiness. Frank was the father to my daughter in law who just gave birth to my first (biological) grandchild. my grandson, Carson, who was born 6 weeks premature is doing fine. Please keep this family in your prayers. God Bless you!

  2. In my dad’s time of living, his heart belonged to us kids. He was shocked to learn that he would become the family man he was, he often told me…”Gina, you know, before you were born I wanted nothing to do with kids, I mean I was having a good time partying with my friends, you know doing whatever I wanted. But the first time I saw you and held you, I fell in love with you and I thought wow man, this is what it’s all about. And I knew it wouldn’t stop there.”
    He is the proud father of 7 kids, all who knew his heart and know he was determined to keep his family together, despite his up-bringing, despite anything that tried to tear us apart. He loved so much.
    That is something I can say about you Dale, thank you for loving so much and bringing so much beauty into this world. You say you didn’t know him all too well but I say you did.
    My dad did have a moment of clarity the day before he past. I talked to him that night and he told me that he was incredibly and unusually happy and felt really close to God and was very optomistic about the future. I shared a story with him about a woman in the Christian book store who told me (from God) that I have doubts about what God is doing in my life and not to worry because He has a plan for me. Although it hit me like a ton of bricks, I didn’t want to get emotional right then and there because the store was crowded and she was being really dramatic about it. The next day those words came flooding back and I knew they were excactly what I needed to hear and indeed were from God and I was glad because I had the ammunition to fight off the doubts in my head. My dad ecstatically agreed and told me how great it was to hear me so happy. I told him that I believe God has a plan for him too, he said he believed that.
    We talked and laughed some more and as we were coming to a close, he told me, ” I love you.”
    “I love you too, dad–”
    ” No, I love you, Gina, I love you and I just want you to know how much I do.”
    I said, ” I know you do dad and you know I love you so much too?”
    “Oh yes”, he said.
    That was the last time I spoke to him and I know he’s with the Lord now. Undoubtedly God had a plan for my dad and He did do it well.

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