This page is dedicated to the memory of Francis "Frank" "Red" Gritzmacher and the memories he gave us all.
Frank left us on February 27, 2020 after a lifelong battle with Cystic Fibrosis. He received a life-saving Lung Transplant in 2014, and for several more years lived a full and exciting life.
He travelled the country, spent time with (and making) friends and enjoying life with a vigor that was inspiring to us all.
But, living with a compromised immune system finally caught up to him, and although he fought it hard with several hospitalizations,
eventually, he had to face a deteriorating life condition. He finally was weak enough that he was admitted to Niagara Hospice where he spent the rest
of his days. He could not visit his friends, but he enjoyed having them
visit him and spent the time he had left in their company, talking, playing games, watching football on TV, and enjoying culinary delights.
Frank got his new lungs Dec. 17, 2014 eight years ago today. My calendar reminded me of that fact. It seems long ago in some ways and still, it seems like just yesterday.
It was the beginning of a whirlwind of trips back and forth to New York City and NY Presbyterian Hospital. One other thing reminded me of that time, the seasonal flood of letters and emails from charitable groups reaching out for donations. One in particular came today: COTA.
Back when Frank's need for a transplant was imminent, a group of his friends united and formed Team Frank. They had found out about the Children's Organ Transplant Association and the work they do helping families manage the task of dealing with the expenses incurred with a transplant. I'm grateful that they included me in the group. A finer bunch of people just isn't possible.
I've uploaded a newspaper article from 1994 that I have been hanging onto for all that time. I hope sharing this old, but moving article, is okay as fair use since it falls under the topic of this web site. You will find it in the menu to the left as "Shelby."
It's the story of Shelby, a young woman in North Carolina, who, like my sons, had CF. The parallels and similarities are striking. I kept the article because it was of some comfort to me in knowing we weren't alone and others were facing the challenges Albert and Frank faced.
Unlike Albert and Frank, Shelby did not survive to receive her transplant. She was about five years older than Albert, and even in that small amount of time, CF treatment had progressed a lot. Even so, Frank was in very dire straits just before his transplant some years later. But they benefited from the progress made and received their life-extending transplants.
Time marches on and more progress has been made. I know CF people who thanks to new drug treatments are living full lives without the need for a lung transplant at all. it goes to show that continued support of research can still bring more tools to the kit for treating CF.
Anyway, this article was close to home for me and I have read it probably a thousand times, cried over it, and oddly enough was reassured by it. It has meant a lot to me and I hope you will get something from reading it as well.