I've been a writer for as long as I can remember. When I was in middle school and high school, I wrote long letters to myself as well as poetry filled with the typical pre teen and teenage angst. I had dairies full of those words, though I have no idea what happened to them through my moves. I don't write many long, "deep thoughts," type of posts here on my blog, but I have been moved to share a few. I guess the two that have been the most revealing and most moving have been my post about losing my mother and what I've learned from it and my post about Franklin Fung Chow.
I shared with you before the holidays that Franklin passed away, and since that time, several of his friends have reached out to me, having found my story about him here on my blog. Today I received a letter that left me standing in my kitchen with tears running down my face. They were sad tears from the reminder of the loss of Franklin, but they were also happy tears to learn just how much my words touched both him and his friends. This letter was from Lois, Franklin's next door neighbor of 30 years:
"Dear Ms. Warren,
I'm sorry to tell you that Franklin Chow passed away in November. He had been ill since July 2010, and in January 2011 moved to the San Francisco Bay area to be near family. Franklin and I were neighbors for 30 plus years. I was one of the friends who worked on cleaning out his apartment preparing to be sold. In all of the stuff he had, and Franklin was a bit of a pack rat, I found and read your letter. I was very moved by the letter. It is such an accurate description of my old friend and is so beautifully written.
On January 8, we had a memorial service at the church where Franklin had been a member since coming to D.C. I read your letter at that service. As I read, I would glance out at the assembled group. There I saw smiling faces and nods of agreement as others recognized the friend they knew in your lovely description. Afterwards a lot of people spoke with me about your letter; some even asked for a copy. I've given the original letter with the photograph and the drawings done by your daughters to Franklin's brother Roger. I've kept a copy for myself and shared copies with others. I consider finding your letter amongst all the other stuff in Franklin's apartment to be a miracle.
I'm enclosing a program from the memorial service. Thank you for writing such a beautiful letter. It touched a lot of hearts the way Franklin had touched yours."
When you send your words out into the world, you often never know the effect they will have on others. I know that my family received a rare blessing that day we met Franklin, and even in just a brief exchange, he made a huge, lasting impact on my life. I'm very grateful and very touched that, just as I've kept the things he gave us (still in that little pouch in my purse), he kept the letter and things I sent him as thanks, and they've lived on to touch the hearts of his friends and family.
When I thought about including one of my photos with this post, this is the first one that popped in my head. I'm not exactly sure why. I think that maybe it's the simplicity and openness of Olivia's little hands holding out those flower buds, like sharing a small little gift from the heart, just as Franklin did with us. You can read my original letter to Franklin here. Thank you again, Franklin Fung Chow, for blessing my life. I know you are looking down on us from Heaven above, smiling that same sweet smile you had as an angel on earth.