The caller was direct: "Frank is dead."

I hung up the phone numbed. He had looked less and less healthy every year I'd known him. And then last year he hadn't planted a garden, and I'd known it wouldn't be long.

I had always wondered what I would say at Frank's funeral. Now I had until tomorrow at 3 o'clock to think of something that was both honest and honoring. The problem was that Frank had been a major vexation, a combination saint and sinner-extreme in both categories.

Frank was our head deacon. He had been a deacon at this church for nearly forty years before I arrived. Thirty years ago, when the church had needed a building, Frank had gotten the plans drawn up, had gotten approval and loans from the denomination, and had supervised the construction. For the next three decades, he was involved in every repair, improvement, and addition. He treated the building as if it were his own. When any maintenance problem popped up, Frank would be there, all night if necessary, to take care of ...

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