Without the grace of God mankind cannot understand the plan of the Creator. Throughout my life I have experienced many high mountains and low valleys. For some reason, each time, I have been spared the inevitable that each human must face sooner or later in this fleshly body.
The first book I was introduced to, as a child, was the Bible. As I went to church and was taught by Mrs. Audrey Addison at the young people’s meeting, I was very quick in finding the ‘Bible drill’ scriptures that she would require us to find. As a result, she referred to me as the ‘Little Preacher’ and prophesied over me that I would eventually preach the gospel. She would be happy to know that for the past 50 years, I have preached to anyone who would listen about the wonderful love of God and how He promised to live in each of His children.
The Shortt family was enjoying a picnic at a small meadow beside the river known as ‘Little River’, in Southwest Virginia. Its beginnings are in Tazewell County at the Tennessee watershed and ends up in the Clinch River. There are several species of fish, namely, Rock bass (Red Eyes), black bass, and several species of sunfish (bluegill, crappie, etc.). I was about seven or eight years old at the time and swam like a hunk of concrete. Although I lacked the ability to swim, I took it upon myself to get into an old tire inner tube to float in the pool below the meadow. When I had floated out to the middle of the pool, I began moving around thinking I could somehow guide the tube back to shore. Suddenly, being very small for my age, I slipped through the opening of the tube. After reemerging, I must have cried out for help, and a savior in the form of Emory Osborne, who was there with his family, swam out, placing me on the tube, and floating me back to shore and safety. I was never able to thank him properly and by the time I found out he had moved to Colorado, it was too late for me to thank him as he had passed this life. God used this man to preserve me for a future use.
I had gone to a tent revival in the town of Doran with some neighborhood boys of Shortt Gap. We were awaiting the meeting to start, and it was decided that we would go down to the Clinch River for a swim before the preacher began the service. Most of the boys were strong swimmers, one in particular being Elmer Pruitt, known as Sputnik, who would soon play an important role in my life.
I was somewhat of a daredevil in those days, being about eleven or twelve, and could only dog paddle if the water was shallow enough. When everyone else jumped in, I did likewise, not thinking of the deepness of the water and the swift current at this time. I suddenly found myself being swept away, in water over my head, and could not reach bottom. I cried out for help and Sputnik swam out and pulled me back to safety. I was able to thank him properly and several times thereafter. I always considered him to be my Savior in flesh, and so he was, as God used him to preserve my life.
While in the Air Force 1960-64, I drank quite a bit as alcohol was readily available on base, as well as, off base. While drinking with some friends at a club in Carmichael, California, one of the men, Tex R. asked me and a couple of my friends to go flying with him as he owned a twin engine, Beechcraft Bonanza airplane. Being quite inebriated already, we agreed unanimously to go. What we did not know, nor care, being under the influence of booze, we would be required to ride in the rumble seat usually reserved for baggage. I was near the passing out stage when we took off and by the time we reached an altitude to head toward Reno, I was already sleeping soundly. Just as we were about 10,000 feet over Reno unable to land due to heavy snowing, I stretched out and kicked the baggage door open. Had it not been for Shorty Smitherman, my friend who worked at the airport in Fair Oaks, California, I would have been sucked out of the door and goodbye Frank! He pulled me to safety and as we held the door shut with our bare hands all the way back to Fair Oaks, we both had near frozen fingers and quite a sobering up experience. Tex was pretty shook up as he was unaware of anything that transpired in the rumble seat. Besides, his girlfriend was keeping him quite busy as she made over him as he tried to fly the airplane. Once again, a good friend became the Savior of my ignorant being!
About twelve years ago I went for a walk to the local shopping center, as is my morning habit, had my coffee and a roll, and was on my way back to our town home in Evergreen, California. On the way back I encountered an older gentleman named Joe who had recently had open heart surgery. Before I saw Joe, I had been experiencing some strange feelings in my heart area, a burning sensation, as well as some pains, not like gas pains, but much sharper! When I stopped to talk to Joe, the burning and pains subsided. I always stopped when I saw Joe to ask of his welfare and his progress with the surgery. We passed the time for about fifteen minutes, talking of the things of God, and I continued on my way. The burning sensation and the pains returned, even sharper this time. When this happened, I was only about a half a block from our home. As soon as I entered the door, I immediately climbed the stairs informing my wife that I believed that I was having a heart attack or on the verge of one. She insisted that it was probably only heartburn and that I should take an Alka Seltzer and see what occurred. I became persistent and told her that if she would not take me to the hospital, I would drive myself! She immediately dressed herself and we began the trip to Kaiser Hospital in South San Jose. Upon arrival, we informed the emergency crew that we believed that I was having a heart attack and they immediately placed me in an emergency room where a young lady Vietnamese doctor began preliminary treatment for one experiencing a heart attack. By then my daughters, my grandson, and my best friend had arrived, and they all began to pray for me. Just as I had the heart attack, a young Chinese Cardiologist appeared out of nowhere and as I had the attack, the needle dropped to zero, and she instantly administered nitroglycerin into the main artery of my heart. As I came to, the first voice I heard was a soothing, pleading voice saying, “Frank, come back to us, Frank, come back to us!” It was the voice of Charlotte Vu, over my body pleading for me to come back as if I was her own father! She arrived just in time, a miracle in itself. Did I see lights? No! Only blackness! I must have not gone out of my body long enough to enter the realm of light. She was used of God to preserve my life!
As I mended, after a stint was administered into my main artery, which was completely blocked by cholesterol, I wished to send Charlotte Vu a dozen red roses, which I did on one of my visits to the Cardiologist to which I was assigned. I keep the thank-you note from her as a reminder of her diligence and caring nature which caused her to be my Savior in flesh at the right moment!
One Sunday, my faithful friend and brother, Guido Droira invited my wife and I to have lunch with him and his wife. We agreed to go to Black Angus in Milpitas, California to have some meat as I had not had beef in a long time. For some reason, the service was very slow that day and my body requires food at a certain time, otherwise, I become very weak and begin to shake. I ordered ribs and chicken and when the food finally arrived, the ribs were somewhat dry making them hard to chew and to swallow. Upon taking a portion into my mouth, I attempted to swallow it. I must have not chewed it thoroughly in my haste to satisfy my hunger. It became stuck in my throat cutting off my breathing. As I was turning red in the face, with signs that I was having difficulty breathing, my good friend Guido, having knowledge of the Heimlich maneuver, went behind me and began the process of dislodging the piece of rib. After a couple of attempts, and a trip to the restroom, the piece finally popped out and my breathing was restored. The apathy of our race was apparent at that time as not another person around us offered help of any kind, and the room was completely full. Once again, I owe my life to a quick-thinking human being who became my Savior in flesh. I am thankful that all these people have been there at the right time to preserve me for future use by God.
As a human being, I have questioned God as to why I have been allowed to live through so many attempts to end my life! As I walked one morning, I encountered a young nurse on my walk and we began to talk of life and relationships. By the time I finished chatting with her, she thanked me for being there at this time in her life when she is encountering hardships and difficult decisions. This allowed me to look past the curtain of time for an instant to realize that, my total job on earth is not finished.
Praise God for his wonderful grace to me throughout my life!