Rest in Peace

December 31, 2016


Jim senior passed away last night, a week before his 92nd birthday.

The news was shocking, as news of someone’s death is.

Elisa woke up to realize Jim was not moving. Her brother was visiting–there to help them with a home project–and together they called 911.

And that was that.

Jim Sr. had slowed down a lot in the last year and we suspected he was nearing the end of his life. He wasn’t ill or suffering in any real way, but was sleeping a lot, and Jim said he sounded very tired on the phone.

My first thought after Jim shared the news was how grateful I was that his dad died so peacefully, in his sleep, after a long and healthy life. What more can any of us hope for? I am SO glad this was his experience.

I also thought a lot about his general outlook on life. He seemed so very content with his world. His emails–always, but especially in the last few years–showed that he was as engaged as always, as curious as ever, ready to make whatever home improvements would enrich his and Elisa’s day-to-day life, and just plain satisfied with where he was, what he was doing and who he was with.  He always seemed to be utterly at peace. He kept at it right up until the end–prioritized his health, cooked his favorite dishes, kept abreast of the news, frequented his favorite restaurants, .. and, YESTERDAY, was still directing his brother-in-law on just exactly how the re-epoxying of the garage floor should go.

I get the idea that after a long day and a good dinner, he just went to sleep.

He was pretty up front about having had a good life and being ready when the time came.

That is peace.

Jim was a dignified man. He was very smart, very self-sufficient, a man of many trades. He loved to cook, was a voracious reader and was enormously handy. Jim Sr. gave Jim his early training–how to build stuff, fix stuff, wire stuff, rehab stuff–and totally passed down a sense of competency and agency that has served him (and therefore Peter and me) his whole life (as I write this, Jim’s fashioning a temporary fix on our 30-year old dryer as he awaits a part).

Jim Sr. was a master, MASTER story teller. He could whip stories out like he was dealing cards. He ALWAYS had a story that amplified whatever the topic of conversation was. Many stories came from his life growing up in rural Kansas.  He was one of 11 children–all born in (in) the same Kansas farmhouse–and raised with a very strong work and family ethic. He always spoke in the most reverential way of his parents and an upbringing that was modest but upright, solid, moral and loving.

Here’s a photo of the James Horace Frame family, circa 1949, taken in front of the home of Helen and Christian Wright of Independence, Missouri:


From left, top to bottom: Tom, Dallas, Dean (Alan); Marilee, Ron, Frances; Helen, Lillian Ruth, the original James Horace Frame, Sandra; Michael, Kent (Roger), Jim.

The order goes, I think: Frances, Marilee, Jim, Helen, Ron, Tom, Dean, twins Sandra & Dallas, Kent, Michael. With Jim’s passing last night, there are only four Frame kids left (Dean, Kent, Sandra and Michael).

Jim was the eldest son, named after his dad. My Jim, son of Jim Jr, got the name to (and became the III). Jim and I broke the name tradition with Peter. Even so, I think Peter looks just like his grandpa Jim.

A few things really defined Jim Sr.’s life. One of course was growing up in a huge family where everyone worked hard and contributed to the household. As I said, that was fodder for a million stories, but also was the essence of who he was. Though scattered, the kids (kids, ha) have stayed close and still gather for reunions every couple years. Our next Frame family reunion is in July.

His service experience was also big; serving in WWII both shaped and shattered him. Jim tells me his dad carried the horrors of war with him his entire life, never really recovering from the traumas and losses. His strongest desire, though, still, was to have a military burial–proud of his service to our country. I think that’s pretty amazing.

His marriage to Sonia, a french Brazilian, was also a big life-defining event. They lived in Brazil for awhile, he learned Portuguese, he adopted Brazilian traditions. That he married a Brazilian gal and his brother Dean married her sister, provided a whole nuther layer of remarkable family lore. That the two families always lived within blocks of one another and were essentially a giant blended family with eight kids and four parents just added to the fun. That the Brazilian sisters’ mom–family matriarch of the Brazilian wing–bounced back and forth between the two homes…. well… that’s just a lot more whacky story material.

When he wasn’t telling stories, Jim Sr. was a no-frills man who lived a simple life in Arizona with Elisa (his wife of 45-ish years whom he married after Sonia’s death when Jim was around 18). His phone conversations were hysterically brief. He was quiet and far away down in Oro Valley, but he thought the world of his three children, enjoying the hell out of them whenever we all got together.

He had his flaws, and the relationship that Jim had with him was sometimes complicated. They avoided the deep and complex sorting out of those issues, but in the last twenty years they shared a true mutual respect and warm admiration for one another. There was much to respect and love about Jim Sr.

He was a good man. We shall all miss him.

One Response to “Rest in Peace”

  1. Christine Murphy Says:

    My condolences to the Frame family, Uncle Jim was always full of entertaining Stories a very nice man

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