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Frankie, Frankie get in here...were the words that echoed down the hall every time I entered my great-grandmother's home. She was letting my uncle Frankie know he had visitors. Moments later he'd scamper down the hall and greet you as if he hadn't seen you in years.

A big smile on his face, arms open wide and a big bear hug would ensue. We'd chat for a little bit and often head back to his room to get a glimpse of his "homework."

My uncle Frankie lived with my great-grandmother until she passed and then he went to live with his siblings. You see, Frankie had Down Syndrome. Growing up, I don't remember anyone telling me Frankie had Down Syndrome or was different than me. In my family, I was taught everyone was the same and learned the Golden Rule early, "Do unto others as you would have done unto you."

My great-grandparents dissed the notion he was different also. When Frankie was born, April 27, 1951, doctors gave little hope to my great grandparents that Frankie would live beyond five years old. I guess back then, they didn't know much about Down Syndrome.

From what I've researched, many with Down Syndrome have congenital heart disease. Frankie did have a heart disease; he had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. Did I mention he loved hugs?

Frankie attended school and learned how to read and write. He spent much of his days writing. That is why we always had to go check out his homework, something he took great pride in and worked hard on daily.

What did we get Frankie for his birthday every year? Notebooks, pens, and stickers. Oh and a Cincinnati Reds t-shirt or hat. One of the only times he wouldn't come out for a visit was if the Reds were on TV. Not only did he have a love for the Reds and Indiana University basketball, he loved playing both sports. I remember some fierce whiffle ball games in my great grandmother's backyard.

I often say my eight year old nephew Carson is the best dancer in the family, but before Carson came along Frankie held the title. He loved music and dancing. He was incredibly gifted and could identify the artist singing a song as soon as he heard the first few notes. If there was music, Frankie was busting a move. We'd all sit back and laugh. Which made him continue his moves, as he loved being the center of attention and was the life of the party.

Frankie had a deep respect for the flag and military. He hung out at the American Legion and was a favorite to the patrons. At parades when members of the military would pass you could count on Frankie standing at attention with a salute. Annually he'd attend, with family, the local Memorial Day service and as soon as the National Anthem would play his hand would be over his heart.

Frankie had an incredible memory. My mom shared a story with me about a time she forgot his birthday. Yes, he took note of who remembered and who did not. Several weeks later they were attending a funeral and he walked up to her and busted out in song, "Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday, to me..." That was his subtle way of letting her know she had forgotten his birthday.

My cousin shared on Facebook a talent Frankie had that I'd forgotten. He would look at his wrist, as though looking at a watch, and tell you the time. There was no watch on his wrist, but he'd usually be right on the time. We sometimes joked he was Rain Man.

Frankie passed away at the age of 65. He was truly a gift from God to our family. The laughter he brought will never be replaced, but the many stories we have of him will be shared and remembered for years.

Not to get all political, but I can't imagine why some doctors recommend women who are carrying a Down Syndrome baby abort. I say this honestly, Frankie was much better than you or me.

*He never judged.
*You were his friend the moment he met you.
*He never met a stranger.
*He loved this country and members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
*He loved Twinkies without worrying about the calories.
*His heart was filled with joy.
*He had a passion for life and living.
*He loved his family.
*He laughed often and smiled just as much.

Maybe the world needs a lot less of what we see on the news and in our social media feeds each day and more people like my great uncle Frankie. The man who never knew a stranger.

I know this is true because after Frankie passed here are just a few things people had to share about him:

"Frankie was an awesome human being."

"He was a great guy!"

"Frankie was always a joy!"

"He was a real sweetie."

"A very loving man."

"He was a special guy."

"He was a special person, with a special soul."

"Frankie was a blessing to all who knew him."

"Always smiling with a heart the size of Texas."

How will you be remembered? If people can't say these types of things about you, TODAY is the day to make a change. Today is the day you...

Start smiling more
Give bear hugs
Have fun!
Dance to the music.
Bless others through your actions
Today is the day to be more like Frankie!

Blessings,

Stephanie

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About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com

 

Frankie, Frankie get in here…were the words that echoed down the hall every time I entered my great grandmother’s home. She was letting my uncle Frankie know he had visitors. Moments later he’d scamper down the hall and greet you as if he hadn’t seen you in years. A big smile on his face, arms open wide and a big bear hug would ensue. We’d chat for a little bit and often head back to his room to get a glimpse of his “homework.”

My uncle Frankie lived with my great grandmother until she passed and then he went to live with his siblings. You see, Frankie had Down Syndrome. Growing up, I don’t ever remember anyone telling me Frankie had Down Syndrome or was different than me. In my family, I was taught everyone was the same and learned the Golden Rule early, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

My great grandmother dissed the notion he was different also. When Frankie was born, April 27, 1951, doctors gave little hope to my great grandparents that Frankie would live beyond five years old. I guess back then, they didn’t know much about Down Syndrome. From what I’ve researched, many with Down Syndrome have congenital heart disease. Well Frankie did have a heart disease. He had the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. Did I mention he loved hugs?

Frankie attended school and learned how to read and write. He spent much of his days writing. That is why we always had to go check out his homework, something he took great pride in and worked hard at daily. What did we get Frankie for his birthday every year? Notebooks, pens and stickers. Oh and a Cincinnati Reds t-shirt or hat. One of the only times he wouldn’t come out for a visit was if the Reds were on TV. Not only did he have a love for the Reds and Indiana University basketball, he loved playing both sports. I remember some fierce wiffle ball games in my great grandmother’s backyaIMG_8446rd.

I often say my seven year old nephew Carson is the best dancer in the family, but before Carson came along Frankie held the title. He loved music and dancing. He was incredibly gifted and could identify the artist singing a song as soon as he heard the first few notes. If there was music, Frankie was busting a move. We’d all sit back and laugh. Which made him continue his moves, as he loved being the center of attention and was the life of the party.

Frankie had a deep respect for the flag and military. He hung out at the American Legion and was a favorite to the patrons. At parades when members of the military would pass you could count on Frankie standing at attention with a salute. Annually he’d attended, with family, the local Memorial Day service and as soon as the National Anthem would play his hand would be over his heart.

Frankie had an incredible memory. My mom shared a story with me of a time she forgot his birthday. Yes, he took note of who remembered and who did not. Several weeks later they were attending a funeral and he walked up to her and busted out in song, “Happy Birthday to me, Happy Birthday, to me…” That was his subtle way of letting her know she had forgotten his birthday.

My cousin shared on Facebook a talent Frankie had that I’d forgotten. He would look at his wrist, as though looking at a watch, and tell you the time. There was no watch on his wrist, but he’d usually be right on the time. We sometimes joked he was Rain Man.

Frankie passed away at the age of 65 on Sunday, June 26th. Frankie was truly a gift from God to our family. The laughter he brought will never be replaced, but the many stories we have of him will be shared and remembered for years.

Not to get all political, but I can’t imagine why some doctors recommend women who are carrying a Down Syndrome baby abort. I say this honestly, Frankie was much better than you or I. He never judged. You were his friend the moment he met you. He never met a stranger. He loved this country and members of the U.S. Armed Forces. He loved Twinkies without worrying about the calories. His heart was filled with joy. He had a passion for life and living. He loved his family. He laughed often and smiled just as much. Maybe the world needs a lot less of what we see on the news and in our social media feeds each day and more people like my great uncle Frankie. The man who never knew a stranger.

I know this is true because I’m seeing all the comments on Facebook.

“Frankie was an awesome human being.”

“He was a great guy!”

“Frankie was always a joy!”

“He was a real sweetie.”

“A very loving man.”

“He was a special guy.”

“He was a special person, with a special soul.”

“Frankie was a blessing to all who knew him.”

“Always smiling with a heart the size of Texas.”

How will you be remembered? If people can’t say these types of things about you, TODAY is the day to make a change. Today is the day you…

  • Start smiling more
  • Give bear hugs
  • Have fun!
  • Dance to the music.
  • Bless others through your actions
  • To never know a stranger

Today is the day to be more like Frankie!

P.S. If you knew Frankie, I’d love for you to share your favorite Frankie story or memory. Thanks!

Blessings,

Stephanie

About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and soon to be author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish and live their big dreams, and bless others daily through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

 

 

Termites. The little bugs that cause thousands of dollars in destruction to homes. Unfortunately, we had a wooden post near our house that we thought, could possibly be eaten by termites. Yikes!

Within days, a sales guy from Orkin pulled into my driveway to inspect the post and give me the good or bad news.

Working from home, I'm always happy for a break when someone shows up to the house, and Adam from Orkin was no different.

I met him in the driveway, we chatted about the bugs, we walked around the yard and within minutes he knew the issue wasn't termites. Praise the Lord!

I live our a ten-acre wooded lot and our conversation quickly turned to our property, him growing up playing and working on his grandparents property of 45 acres and how we both loved the outdoors.

I'm not sure how we got on the topic, but I learned that Adam had a master's degree in Clinical Psychology but through a series of events he landed a job with Orkin.  We discussed law enforcement and serial killers. I know, it's a weird obsession I had for many years. It's the reason I wanted to go into the FBI. He recommended a good movie on Teddy Bundy, that I hadn't seen. And now I wish I wouldn't have watch. Good, but down right creepy! But I digress.

Adam is a philanthropist in his own right and has a dream of building a facility for dogs that need homes. His passion about his own furry friend and those abandoned and neglected were evident.  

After an hour of chatting, I asked if I could snap a picture.  Standing in the driveway I felt like I was talking with an old friend. I even mentioned, how I'd love for him and his fianc , who is getting her PhD at Notre Dame, to join my husband and I for dinner.

I've learned throughout my giving journey, if I take a moment to engage with people, I usually find we have more in common than we think.  On the surface it may not look like it. I'm female and Adam is male. I'm white and he's black. I work from home and he drives around in a car all day. I'm married and he's engaged. I have a bachelor's degree and he has a master's. The list of our difference could go on and on, but our conversation didn't focus on our differences. We spent our time focused on what we had in common, and it was a lot.

Maybe there is a coworker, someone at church, or even the coffee shop barista that you think, "we have nothing in common." Step outside your comfort zone and ask them a couple of questions about themselves, and I'm hopeful, that just like Adam and me, you'll find that you are more alike, than different. 

Happy Giving,

Stephanie

Day 7 Giving Challenge: Get to know someone new. Invest time in a thoughtful conversation about them and their life.  

Did you know... it is estimated that between 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 students in the U.S. say they have been bullied at school, most occurring in middle school, with the most prevalent type of bullying being verbal and social. (Source: stopbullying.gov)

Chat with your Children: I bring up the topic of our differences because as a society, at times, we seem so polarized and focused on our differences, that we don't take time to look at what we have in common. Our children pay attention. They mimic our behavior. I don't have children, but I've heard over and over from parents, of how they really must watch what they say, because they've heard their kids repeat words that weren't appropriate for their age, but guess what, they heard it from their parents.

Children who are at risk for being bullied are those that are perceived by other students as different. We need to chat with our children, that different isn't bad. Different, especially on the outside, doesn't reflect what's on the inside of a child. Just because a child may have glasses, be a little overweight or shy, doesn't change anything about how smart, funny or kind they are. It just makes them unique, and we are all unique in our own ways. Some differences we can see and others we can't. At the end of the day, teaching children that we are all equal and to be kind to all we meet is how we, even adults, should behave.

Bonus Story: My uncle Frankie was born with Down Syndrome, but over the thirty plus years he was in my life, I realized we had much more in common than we did different.