"To be Frank"
He actually preferred Francis, I know that because I asked him once and he told me. Funnily enough I generally only called him Frank when he'd wound me up in some way. So quite often really! However, he was my dear friend and the times we had, and we had some great times, will be permanently etched in my memory. I could write a sitcom from most of them!
Francis touched many people. He inspired, encouraged and enriched many of their lives. A natural born father to his four boys and loving husband.
When I think about Francis, I think in the same terms I would a brother, he wasn't always the easiest friend to have, but neither of us found easy that interesting, as he proved in all his pursuits. That piece of junk MG Midget he bought, despite my best advice, was no exception, believe me! Young Hamletts? Should you ever need sound motoring advice, I'm here!
As you can see from the pictures, "Laurel and Hardy" Myself and Francis 20 years plus ago, and more recently Frank the triathlete giving it all in competition, Francis's life was, in every sense of the phrase,very much a "game of two halves". Sadly in that second half, someone read their stopwatch wrong and called time way too early, for my liking.
I will focus my thoughts on all we had done together, and be very grateful for that.
Keith, or Mr Gibbs, as he would say.
Frank Lived his life in a Maelstrom of Non-Conformity
Nobody who met him, forgot him - ever. I didn’t know him particularly well, but one moment in his company and it was bleedingly obvious - here was a special man. It was in the early days of my being discharged from the hospital and beginning my fragile recovery when Ruth took me to a youth team football match with Olivia to watch Charlie play. Frank was pitch-side, he took one look at me before coming over and giving me the biggest of bear hugs, with utter conviction. Nobody before or since had ever done anything like that to me, it was so powerfully motivationalI was literally shaking. You have to consider the context, I was his ex-wife’s boyfriend, but did that inhibit him? No! What abloody great man he is.
Frank’s non-conformist spirit is evident in his children. Despite not having done any training for it, his first son Charlie was inspired to be an Ironman, just like his dad. If you've read through much of my wider blog you'll know how I feel about Charlie, he is like his father, a simply outstanding man.
My daughter Olivia summed up Frank's personality perfectly when she said to me "Dad, Frank is just like Phil Dunphy (from Modern Family fame) isn't he?" Click on the link - I'd relate to Frank saying quote number 2.
In a nutshell, Frank is an Ironman in our hearts - forever.
Charlie took over his dad’s registration for the Dun Laoghaire 70.3 Ironman event in Ireland.
On 19th August 2018, supported (noisily) by Ruth, Brigette, Theo, Evan, Reuben, Jean and Horst - Charlie became an Ironman.
A celebration from his loving family of Brigette, Charlie, Reuben, Evan and Theo - see link.
Frank is Charlie’s father and Ruth’s ex-husband, so nominally we aren’t related. On paper we are only friends through family ties, but as you will see from the nature of the man, what a bloody friend to have! Frank was brought up in a religious family context where some family feelings were sometimes difficult to express. I use the term half-brother Frank with implied irony - the religious family context didn’t inhibit Frank - it inspired him. Rather than becoming subdued (nobody ever said that word of Frank) he was a fantastic husband to two lovely, intelligent women who adored him. Perhaps even stronger, he was an outrageously special father to four boys, who absolutely worshipped him (no religious connotation intended).
To give context to the text image adjacent... Frank had just turned 50 and given my memory problems after my TBI, we shared a little dark humour about his age.