On Father’s Day, Family is the Gift I’m Most Grateful For
Looking over the entirety of my life I am so grateful for all the blessings I’ve had the good fortune to experience. I realize and am boundlessly appreciative of all the elements that came together to make this happen. No one’s life is perfect. We’ve all faced enormous challenges of one type or another. We’ve all experienced inspiring, exciting and euphoric moments and heartbreaking ones as well. But at the heart and center of it all, the one core aspect that has been constant and supportive has been my family–the one I was born into and the one that I’ve been able to create with my wife Debbie.
I cannot image what life would have been like without my birth family and the one I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to build with Debbie. I am so grateful for having found and paired up with her (and that she agreed to marry me and build our lives together!) and for the influence she’s had on me and the kids. We always wanted kids and bringing up four of them, and now two grandsons as well, has defined our lives, just as we wanted it to. Being a father and grandfather now and being able to influence the lives of these two generations, has made me so proud and satisfied watching the wonderful, productive, principled and moral people they all are and I appreciate the opportunity I’ve enjoyed and played in this role not only on Father’s Day, but every day.
My Dad lived to 83 and Mom to 100. They were married for over 50 years. I have three older siblings, all still alive and reasonably healthy, and we all get along including all the offspring. We are all still connected and attended Mom’s 100th birthday. Debbie and I have been married for over 40 years and we have always been able to manage our way through all the challenges that come over that long a time. We have four kids and two grandsons and we all love to be together as often as possible which is regularly several times a week in one iteration or another. We are also close with Debbie’s family too and we all live in Chicago except for one niece in California.
We realize that our family is the exception, not the rule–so many, all doing reasonably well, all still connected and getting along. We also recognize that this is due to the incredible love, caring, ethics, values and character of our parents. As I get older and reflect back on how this all happened, I realize that none of this happened in a vacuum. I thought back about where MY parents got their values and think about my Grandpa Charlie for whom I’m named….and back and back and back. I see the continuum of our family and absorb that, like 23 and Me revealed, I am all Jewish and ultimately down through the ages, related to Abraham and Moses.
An epiphany dawned on me that regardless of the way we practice our faith, it is the values that bind us together. It is the values that we believe we have been able to also pass on to the next generation and now to the one after that. When I was growing up, I particularly remember my Dad talking about the value of your family and one’s good name. I watched my Dad take care to ensure that all of his four surviving older sisters and their families were all taken care of. This all became ingrained in me, and Debbie from her family as well. I didn’t really understand it when I was younger but do now.
People come and go in one’s life, but family always remains. There’s something extraordinary about having strong family bonds for support and encouragement. And despite all the other unbelievable good fortune I’ve had, my family is at the foundation of it all—and for that I am truly grateful.
–Charles E. Frank
Chuck joined the Jewish Community Center of Chicago local and then Central Board of Directors in 1976 where he continues to serve today as a Vice Chair. In addition to serving on the YMCA Metro Board of Directors and previously, the National Sierra Club Board of Directors (and currently the Illinois Sierra Club Chapter Board), Chuck is passionate about the environment and being a father and grandfather. Chuck and his wife Debbie live in Highland Park IL.