We got the word a few days ago, Frank McCarthy had died. You probably didn’t know Frank. He was a quiet guy.
When Helaine and I first moved to Connecticut back in ’84, Frank and Mary Ellen McCarthy were our next door neighbors. They were downsizing from a home farther east. We were just starting and had put nearly every penny we had into our down payment.
I don’t remember if they came to us or us to them on that first day, but I do remember what they told us: This place is awful. We’re getting out of here as soon as we can.
Their name is still on the mailbox. They never did sell or move out.
Frank was from the generation that preceded mine. He fought in World War II and was incredibly proud to have served in the Yankee Division. He still socialized with the guys and carried their unit’s initials as a tribute on his license plate.
By the time we met him, Frank had semi-retired as an operating engineer. They’re the guys who operate heavy construction equipment. Frank had the complexion of an Irish guy who’d spent a lot of time out in the elements.
He was a good guy, true to his friends and a team player. It was in his nature to help. That was particularly fortuitous for Helaine and me, because Frank was a wiz in everything at which we were inept!
I hope he knew how much we appreciated his help?
Toward the end of Helaine’s pregnancy we faced a quandary. We had all sorts of baby furnishings for our child-to-be, but Jewish tradition says you can’t bring that stuff into the house until after the baby is born. Frank and Mary Ellen gave us their living room while we waited for Stef to arrive. That one room was a substantial percentage of their unit.
Mary Ellen said Frank died from cancer. When it had spread through his body, he faced a choice. It is the courageous and honorable choice of a battle hardened veteran to know when to give up the fight. That’s what Frank did.
Frank passed away at Hospice in Branford.
Guys from Frank’s generation, the so called Greatest Generation, are fading away quickly. They won the peace. They built this country. They will be missed.
Frank certainly will be missed.