Living to be 95 years old is an amazing accomplishment, and one that few people are blessed enough to achieve. Today, that is the place where my husband, Bob’s great uncle, Frank Knox is. I think Frank was always my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s favorite uncle…doesn’t every girl have one or even two. When I found my mother-in-law’s childhood scrapbook among the photo albums and old pictures she had in a box in her closet, as we were preparing to sell their home to help pay for her care, after my father-in-law passed away, I noticed several pictures with her and her Uncle Frank, as well as pictures of him alone.
Frank was stationed in England during World War II, as was my dad. I’m not sure where in England, but it would have been interesting to see if they ever crossed paths. It’s possible that worry and the unknown were things that made my mother-in-law love seeing her uncle, because even when kids are young, they are well able to understand the dangers that their loved ones are being placed in, and they worry that they will not make it home. There really is no definite skill that keeps a soldier alive in a war. Some just come home, and others don’t. That is probably the thing that makes the homecoming so very sweet.
The first time I met Frank was the end of June, 1976, when they brought Frank’s parents, my mother-in-law’s grandparents for a visit. It was partly, I’m sure so that they could meet their two great great granddaughters, my girls, Corrie and Amy, but also to see the rest of the family. Living so far away, in Yakima, Washington, they didn’t get to see this part of the family very much, and Great Grandma and Grandpa were getting older. We did not know it then, but it would be the last time we saw Great Grandpa, since he would pass away the following August…just two months later. I think we all felt very grateful to Frank, his wife, Helen, and their youngest son, Richard for bringing Great Grandma and Grandpa Knox to Casper for such a lovely visit.
Frank is a very intelligent man, and while his mind may not be quite as sharp as it was in his youth, he still remembers all of us and his little niece, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg. He always calls her on her birthday, and while she won’t have a phone this year, we will make sure that we get them on the phone for that very important call. And perhaps we can surprise him today with a phone call from her, because I think she probably did that too, before Alzheimer’s Disease stole the memory of the date from her. Today is Frank’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday Frank!! Have a great day!! We love you!!