Monday, April 11, 2011

Saying Goodbye

The poem at the bottom of the page was written by one of my brother's buddies, Glen Bob VanDyke, for his funeral service.
It was untitled. I'll leave it that way.

The video is all his biker buddies, riding in together, in honor of him. Many folks might bristle at so many bikers in one place. Most are tattooed. Some are pierced. They smoke and drink and cuss. They aren't a biker gang. They just share a love of motorcycles. Normally, this group of men and woman might have frightened me a bit. Sunday, they made me cry. It was so wonderful to see so many people gather together to honor one man.

They are a formidable group, when all together. Separately, they are husbands and fathers and brothers and nephews and uncles. They are wives and mothers and nieces and aunts. They have jobs. They pay taxes. They feel deeply, just like me. They were full of love and kind thoughts and hugs. They loved my brother just like I did. They would have done anything for him, and he for them. He would have done anything for you as well.

John was friends with everyone. He, like me and my sister, never met a stranger. One of his best friends lives across the street. That man told me yesterday, "What a gift it was to me when your brother moved in. We are nothing alike, but we were best friends. It's a good thing too. Otherwise nothing would ever have gotten fixed at my house. " We had a good laugh about that. My brother could fix anything, and did. He also built things. Playhouses and house additions and motorcycles and cabinets and shelves and on and on.

Above all else, he was a family man. He delighted in his children and grandchildren--his greatest treasures and greatest gifts in life. His wife, Kathy, was a woman that he loved madly. She could dish it out as well as she could take it. I think that's what he loved about her the most. She stood beside him in all his trials in life. She was beside him when he died.
He 'friended' my kids on Facebook, so he could keep up with them. He never remembered my birthday and seldom sent a card, but I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he loved me.

As my sister and I lamented, "Sunday was the hardest day of our lives". It was even harder than when our mom died. I think because he was so young and because it was so unexpected.
Goodness, how I'll miss him!
And so, I share the poem from his friend, Glen Bob. It really is, exactly, who my brother was.

We've gathered today to honor and celebrate
The life of John Frala, we all know he's great!
Great father, great husband, great son, great brother,
great friend, great mechanic, a great man like no other.
The master of metal, engineering and love
He's right here with us, smiling down from above.

I think back on conversations that I've had with John
Stayin' up late and carryin' on.
About how more than one person makes up each soul
All just a part of what makes us whole.
Like petals on a flower or leaves on a tree
We are all connected much more than we see.
Just some deep thoughts we shared night after night
You know if it came from John's mind, it had to be right!
I've never met anyone nearly as smart
With so much insight, foresight, and heart.

He'd share his wisdom with all who would hear it
Passing on is a doorway, there's no need to fear it.
To be close to God you don't need a church
You can trust John on this, he does his research.
And research, and research, and research some more
Then research the research til you can't research no more.
That's how John does it, you know him, you know it.
The quality of his life, love and work surely show it.

Down in his garage working on my machine,
I can't help but notice how everything is so clean.
No matter what part I need, be it a tool, belt or hose,
He'll close one eye for a second and say, "I've got one of those!"
Pull a box from a cabinet with a grin on his face,
"A place for everything, and everything in its place."

Then his talk turn to his love of his family and wife.
He helps me get the most from my bike and the most from my life.
Slidin' in broadside was how he wanted to go.
"Ride it like you stole it" if you really must know.
His life was like that, if you think about it,
Knowing John, there's no reason to doubt it.
For the ones he loves he goes all out,
Giving his all on everything he cares about.
No task too daunting, no obstacle too great
Go wide open, do it now, there's no need to wait.
Make the most of each day, for it could be your last
Don't sit idly by while the world rushes past.
He's moved on from here, but he's not far away
We'll ride again on some sunny day.
Live your life like John, it's up to you to decide
Ride it like you stole it, and go slidin' in broadside.


  1. What a beautiful tribute, Carla. Very moving, touching, and sweet. Your brother sounds like someone I would have loved to have known. Bernie and I are also "bikers" - there are few bonds as close as a biker family. The poem was beautiful, too. Your brother is very loved. What a tribute to the man he was. Your family remains in my prayers.

  2. Thanks Penny. I think you and Bernie would have been great friends with John. He really sounds like Bernie in so many ways.

  3. What a wonderful tribute! Your brother obviously touched many lives during his - which was all too brief - but in that way he will live on as part of those he touched.

  4. That was a great tribute to your brother. I know you will always have great memories of him . You and your family will remain in my prayers.

  5. What a beautiful and moving tribute, Carla! Thank you for sharing!


  6. That is beautiful Cee Cee. My heart is with you and your family now as I know how difficult it is to lose someone you love so much. And about those bikers, it just goes to prove that you should never judge that book by it's cover because you really will miss the wonderful content. Huge hugs and prayers for your heart to heal.

  7. Awesome. Sounds like he was a great man who was surrounded by much the same.