Friday, May 28, 2010

My Dear Friend ~ Frank Modestini


My daughter, Mandy, is Community Business Director at Atria Summit Ridge, an assisted living facility in Reno for Seniors. It was there that I made the acquaintance of a wonderful gentleman named Frank Modestini. We grew close as I visited, dined and attended functions with Frank over the years. Frank had a special way of making everyone around him feel like family. He enjoyed giving gifts of fruit and candy to show affection. He was a widower and did not have children of his own, but did have close ties with his nieces, nephews and many friends. The resident ladies at Atria especially loved Frank's company. The way he could light up a room with his presence and his loving, generous nature, make it no surprise that Frank was at one time the President of the Optimist's Club.

When I heard that Frank was having some serious health issues, knowing that the time he had left were short, prompted me to persue receiving training as a Hospice Volunteer. This was something that I had been wanting to do for a long time and I wanted to be prepared to be there for Frank in his time of need. I completed the training that I needed and have found it very fulfilling to be there and offer comfort for those who are nearing end of life. As I had known it would, the day came that I received a call that Frank was not doing well and he had been read his last rites. A very devout Catholic man, his faith was a very big part of Frank's life. I prayed that I would arrive in time. Several hours later, although weak, Frank had an appetite and I assisted him while he ate a big, juicy burger from "In n Out" and sipped a beer from a bendy straw. :) It was apparent that it was not meant to be Frank's time yet. He said, "I can't explain it, but I was overwhelmed with a feeling that I was a'gonner and I was going fast." Luckily, Frank was to remain in our lives for several more weeks. The next time I received, "the call" Frank's situation was much more grave. We did spend several days visiting, joking, and listening to music. I moved a crucifix that was on the other side of the room, closer to Frank's bedside so that he could see it and take comfort from it and shared a book of my mother's religious artwork with him, which he enjoyed very much. I also gave Frank gentle massage and touch to which he said with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, "You make dying a pleasure." As I caressed his face, he would burrow his cheek in my hand, much like a child would with it's mother. These are moments that I will cherish for the rest of my life. On the morning that Frank left us, I remember kneeling by his bedside with one arm under his neck & shoulder and my other hand on his cheek. He was no longer able to communicate but I knew he could hear me. I told him that I wanted him to feel comforted, at peace and to know that he was loved. I told him that I knew that he loved me too because he had told me so many times. I told Frank what an honor it had been to have him in my life and how much his frienship meant to me, I told him that he had done so much good for so many in his time here and that the World was a better place because he had been in it. I went on to tell him that it was time for him to take his place among the Angels in Heaven. At that moment I drew closer to him and recited the Lord's Prayer followed by a Hail Mary. Just as the last words were out of my lips, ". . . now and at the hour of our death, Amen", Frank peacefully took his last breathe as I held him in my arms. I know that when my time comes, he will be there to meet me and welcome me into Heaven.

These are posts that I made on Twitter during the days that I was spending at Frank's bedside:

Just got in from spending the day w/ a very special friend who lives in Senior Assisted Living. He is nearing the end of a rich, full life.
10:04 PM Apr 17th via web

10:04 AM Apr 18th via web
A dear friend is nearing end of life. It was hard to leave his side last night. Going back now to be with him & offer support to his family.

5:06 PM Apr 18th via Twitpic
"Frank" is a beautiful man with Italian upbringing and a HUGE heart. We have had good times & great laughs together. I love him.

9:32 PM Apr 18th via web
My dear friend, Frank Modestini & I share a birthday, May 26th. Today 04/18/10 while I held him in my arms, he left this world to take his place among the angels.

Frank was a member of Reno Optimist Club & Honorary Boy Scout. It was my honor to know him
5:11 PM Apr 18th via web

Right before Frank's condition worsened and once since his passing, the picture that we took together has opened on my computer with no explanation. I feel that this is his way of still communicating his presence. Another way has been through music. The song that I played in honor of Frank in the days following his death is "Time To Say Goodbye" by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman:
During my last days of Massage Clinic while giving a massage, the Pandora music site randomly played this song which was very different than the usual New Age genre that was played during massages, when I heard it, I knew it was Frank letting me know he was there. More recently, Mandy & I stayed at a B&B in Petaluma to celebrate my birthday, which happens to be the same day as Frank's birthday. I left the television on during the night and in the wee hours of the morning I awoke to Frank's favorite song, "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" I smiled and said, Happy Birthday, Frank :)


  1. Such an incredibly beautiful post. YOU are indeed a caring, compassionate, talented woman. Thank you for sharing this with me.Your description of Frank's last moments remind me of mine with my mother....something that I will never forget.
    Much love & many, many blessings for all that YOU are and all that YOU do.
    deb (@JoyFull_deb)

  2. Deb, It means so much that you took the time to read and comment on my post. I wanted to share it with you after reading your beautiful tribute to your Mom and seeing that "Time to Say Goodbye" also holds a special meaning for you. Love you, friend :)

  3. Hi Tele. It is Dana, Frank's great neice. I was missing my uncle today so I decided to google him and see what I would find. First thing I found was this. Very sweet. It brought tears to my eyes but also made me realize what a good man my uncle was.

    I hope you are doing good. The last day I saw you was the day my uncle passed.

  4. Dana it means so much to know that my post was there for you to read when you were reaching out to hear more about your Uncle Frank :) It was a pleasure and a privilege to know him and to meet you as well. He will always have a special place in my heart. Re-reading this brought back memories and tears to my eyes as well. Somehow the photo had gotten deleted and I have now placed it back. I recently was contacted by the hospice that I volunteer at to work per diem as a masseuse, at the conclusion of the call, the picture of Frank and I opended on the computer which was on my lap, to add yet one more occurence of his presence!

    Love to you and your family. ~Tele

  5. Beautiful story Tele. It's great to know that you can bring peace to someones life, even (or especially) near the end.
    The world is a better place with you in it :)

  6. Clint, I have been remiss in posting to my blog. It was a very nice surprise to see your comment. Thank you for taking the time to read my post :) ~Tele

  7. Happy birthday Tele and Uncle Frank! I miss you uncle Frank!!!!