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Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Valley Loses Another Farmer. In Memoriam: Tim Frohning, March 31, 1956--May 8, 2016...

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Psalm 1:3

Friend, neighbor, and farmer Tim Frohning left our Valley and this life May 8, 2016. I knew Tim had been in failing health the last few years. When I heard his passing was imminent, I realized I had some unsaid thank-yous I needed to share with him and to this purpose, I paid Tim a visit. As I drove the Lower Loop Road to the Frohning Family Farm, I mulled over what I wanted to say and how I should broach the subject without my visit appearing to be a last farewell, which, I'm sad to say, happened to be the case.

Tim had been under hospice care for some time, so I wasn't sure what to expect when I approached his bedroom. To my surprise Tim was alert, called me by name, and lifted a hand in greeting. His grip was strong, and as I held that meaty hand, I thought of all the work, all the farming that hand had done over the years. Two visitors were just leaving and for the next forty-five minutes it was just the two of us.

We talked about our history in the Valley, mine which began in 1975, his, of course, much earlier. I chose this tack as it steered me to the thank-you I had come to deliver. I reminded Tim of the pile of concrete slab, remnants of our backyard patio, that had to be removed to make way for the sun room we added to the house in 1981. The pile was an eyesore, full of weeds, a hindrance to the landscaping of our side yard. Sometime or other I must have mentioned that heap of concrete scrap to Tim. He offered the loan of his farm truck which had a dump bed. "Haul it out here," Tim said, "I've got just the place for it." And I did, two loads. Tim remembered that truck and the dumping site, as well. Thus my thank-you for his neighborly kindness. Then it was idle talk until I noticed Tim was tiring, drifting in and out of the conversation. "You must have had a lot of visitors, "I said, and asked if there were too many at times. "A lot of people," he replied, cue for me to take my leave. I gave that big hand a final shake, told him to take care, and left. That was the last time I saw Tim Frohning.

At Tim's memorial officiating pastor and close family friend shared with the large audience how that tough old farmer hoodwinked death time after time during his last six weeks. Death would hover around Tim's bedroom door, peek in, realize he was wasting his time, and take his mission elsewhere. That was their relationship those final days. Death would show up, Tim would send him packing...too much yet left to do....

It's impossible to know for certain a dying man's thoughts during his last weeks, days, hours, but that was not the case with Tim Frohning. Sometime during the final days of the "end game" Tim decided the Frohning Farm needed ten thousand strawberry plants. One evening--it had to be Tim's final week--I get a phone call. To my surprise, caller ID announced "Tim Frohning." I picked up the phone and there was Tim on the other end, voice strong and gruff as ever. He was concerned about his raspberries, wanted to know if I could bring down a hive of bees to set the season's crop, a last request I was only too happy to honor--one neighbor helping another as Tim had helped me. The day of Tim passing, the bees were hard at work in his raspberry patch. That was Tim Frohning, lifetime Valley farmer, thinking about his farm,  farmin' away until his very last breath.

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  1. This is a lovely tribute honoring a special man. It's hard to believe the Valley has lost such an essential member. He will be missed.

    1. Most certainly. I'll miss his ribald spirit, his sense of humor, that hearty rumble of a laugh. Whenever I'd run into Tim, I'd feel a slight adrenaline rush because I knew I had to ramp up my wits to do battle with Tim's. He was quick on the repartee; I don't think I ever bested him in that regard. The Valley will be a lonelier place without big Tim Frohning. TMJ