R.I.P. Frank J. Fleming (1945-2012)

Posted on June 30, 2012 11:20 am

My father, for whom I was named, passed away Wednesday night at the age of 67, just in time to not be bothered with the Obamacare decision. He had been fighting cancer and other ailments for quite some time — many of them related to Agent Orange exposure, so perhaps in a way he was a very late Vietnam War casualty.

My father was the single greatest influence on my sense of humor — even more so than the first ten seasons of The Simpsons. He always teased us kids, and that was his way of showing he loved us. Not that I knew it early on when I would say, “I’m hungry,” and he’d respond with, “Nice to meet you hungry.” I remember when I first successfully teased him back. I was helping with a Boy Scout roadside clean up and he mentioned to me how he had once been to a think tank, and without missing a beat I responded, “What were you doing there? Were you lost?” I could tell he was very proud.

I’m so glad my wife and I ended up in Boise back in 2007 so we could spend more time with him and my mom. I could tell he loved my wife SarahK very much as he was always saying mean things to her, even to his last days. And we’re so thankful God blessed us with little Buttercup, a little ray of sunshine for him and my mom during troubled times. She liked to sit on her papa’s lap and color. She wasn’t old enough for my dad to tease her, so that will be up to me.

Father’s Day this year was pretty hard on me, as I knew there wasn’t much time left, and looking at my father I feel like so far I’m only play acting a dad to little Buttercup. Throughout my childhood, I always felt loved and secure because my father was there, and I feel like I still have a lot of growing up to do to be that for Buttercup. I had a childhood that was about as close as you can have to one of those Norman Rockwell paintings because he and my mom always worked hard to do the best for us kids, and it’s a lot to live up to. I know I should feel sad now that my father has passed, but I just feel so glad to have had such a great dad for as long as I did.

There’s just a little bit of my dad here on my blog. A long while back, I collected military stories from people and got a couple from him. And if you look around, there are some blog comments out there from “Mean Old Man.” Goodbye, dad. And now I’m just looking forward until the day that Buttercup first tells me she’s hungry.

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125 Responses to “R.I.P. Frank J. Fleming (1945-2012)”

  1. helpful researcher says:

    Hey Frank, it seems like I should tease you to try to make up for your loss.

    But instead, I just teared up.

    Thanks for sharing that. I will remember it.

  2. Willy says:

    Sounds like a great man. I lost my dad a few years back. It never stops hurting, but after enough time, the good memories drown it out.

  3. Captain Whitebread says:

    My condolences to you and yours, Frank.

    Oh, and there’ll always be times when you feel you’re just playing the role of father. Just do the best you can, and Buttercup will be trading teases with you before you know it.

  4. Taxpayer1234 says:

    I’m sorry to read of your father’s passing. This nearly sounds like a replay of my own father and his passing 6 years ago. He was a veteran. He had cancer. He had a wicked wit (unfortunately, I didn’t inherit it). He teased everyone he loved and was formally polite to those he didn’t. He was only 69, but he left a legacy of loyalty, sacrifice, love, and lessons learned.

    I’m grateful to have had such a great father that his absence hurts, but the memories far overshadow the pain.

  5. RosalindJ says:

    My father used the nice-to-meet-you-hungry line too. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  6. Dodsfall says:

    My condolences for your family’s loss.

    Cherish the memories of your time on this earth together with your dad.

  7. me says:

    My condolences. My prayers are with you.

  8. Sissy Willis says:

    Tearing up here. A most touching tribute. Love and comfort to you and your mom and SarahK and your precious little Buttercup

  9. Dave in Texas says:

    My deep condolences Frank. You are his legacy now. I think he left a good one.

    Dave

  10. Went West says:

    Very nicely put, my condolences.

  11. In the crosshairs says:

    Lost my dad a long while back, you never get over it.

  12. Unistat says:

    So sorry to hear this Frank. We will be praying for you & your family.

  13. Spike says:

    Wonderful remembrance of your dad. Outstanding that he got to spend a little time with Buttercup before he moved on. I’ve got a couple rug rats myself, regretfully my dad never got to meet them. But you’ve motivated me to try the “I’m Hungry” routine on them in your dad’s honor.

  14. tom k says:

    my condolences frank (my dads name as well) lost him 11 or so years ago, remeber the good times you had.

  15. IP says:

    Being a dad, is a learn on the fly position. There are no rulebooks, just examples to follow and experiences to guide.
    I’ve learned you,
    Don’t feed chili to a baby…
    Yes, they really can have too many grapes…
    They’re really just mutants during the teen years..not kids anymore but not yet grown up

    It sounds as though you have had a fine example to follow.
    Sorry for your loss Frank.

  16. Retread says:

    “Nice to meet you, hungry.” Yeah, I see where you get it. Nice legacy to have.

  17. ramblingmother says:

    So very sorry for your loss. Praying for comfort for you and your family as time passes.

  18. PatriotMomofTwo says:

    Thank you for sharing part of your dad with us. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  19. Moogiep says:

    Your dad sounds a lot like my late father-in-law. Thanks for conjuring up some fond memories.

    My most heartfelt condolences for your family’s loss.

  20. Shawn says:

    My condolences, Frank.

  21. EdthePastor says:

    There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted…A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance.

    Thank you for the laughter you have shared, I mourn with you and your family. May God send the great comforter, the Holy Spirit to the Fleming household. You are in my prayers.

  22. Bob_R says:

    My condolences to you and your family. Carry on the tradition, Frank. We are all just play acting at being dads. Some put on a better act than others.

  23. Brian The Adequate says:

    Please accept my deepest condolences Frank.

    And Frank if my 16.5 years of Fatherhood are any indication, I don’t think you ever lose the vague feeling that you have no idea of what you are doing.

  24. Supertink says:

    My condolences on the passing of your father.

  25. T-dog says:

    My deepest heartfelt apologies. My father has been , and stil is, my greatest influence of what it means to be a man. I can only imagine the void that now fills your heart at losing him. Stay strong Frank. I know you will.

  26. Gerald Dearing says:

    Condolences.

  27. Sue says:

    Such a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing memories of and wisdom from your dad. I am so very sorry for your loss. Praying for your family.

  28. John McDaniel says:

    Great words Frankie. Love to all of you.

    Johnnie

  29. Fly says:

    I’m so sorry for your family’s profound loss, Frank. Yet in the midst of that painful longing, there’s something deeply magnificent about a life well lived and children without regrets because they are certain that mutual love was manifest.

    I have faith in the resurrection and trust he’ll be with us again. God bless, Frank.

    By the way, that title freaked me out, hungry! Names are for telling people apart, not the opposite of that! Just something to keep in mind while you mourn.

  30. Keln says:

    It’s good to hear you had such a great dad Frank, thanks for sharing that with us. My condolences for your loss.

  31. Les says:

    I know your loss is beyond words. Thanks for the tribute to a great man who raised a great son.

  32. CrustyB says:

    I’m very sorry for the passing of your father, Frank. You are obviously the product of a great upbringing.

  33. Mr Disco says:

    So sorry to hear about your loss. If your dad did die due to Agent Orange he is eligible to have his name on the Wall. An American Legion or VFW service officer will be glad to help you. In 1969 my friend, Chub and I got drenched with Agent Orange, both in bad health. One thing that keeps us going is our bet to be the last name on the Wall.

  34. GrannyBoo says:

    Oh, Frank! What a hard thing to bear for you and your family, but what love for all of them showed in what you wrote!

    I will, of course, be in prayer for you all (isn’t it great that the interwebs now let us weep and mourn and pray for people we’ve never met? but we know kindred souls when we read them).

    My dad passed on in 2002. Ten years on and I still have the stray “I ought to call Dad to see what he thinks about this” moments.

    Be patient with your Mom, she has a whole different hole in her heart just now.

    Don’t fret about Buttercup. You have SarahK to pick up your slack. That’s why God gives babies to teams.

    May He bless and keep you.

  35. MM says:

    My most heartfelt condolences to you Frank. That was a wonderful piece about your dad.

    As I had an absolute asshole for a father(?), I’ll never tire of reading about the possibilities.

  36. wRitErsbLock says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  37. Amanda says:

    So sorry to hear about your loss, Frank. Wishing u and your family continued strength. He sounds like he was quite a character…apple/tree.

  38. Ogrrre says:

    My condolences, Frank. My father passed away last year. Unfortunately, I do not have the happy memories of my father that you have for your Dad. I am glad you had that quality of time and life with your Dad. It will be tough for you without him, but he can live on through your interactions with your child. Remember him and raise your Buttercup accordingly.

  39. Oil Field Trash says:

    I am so very sorry for your loss. I miss my Dad every day. I will be praying for you.

  40. Bunkerhillbilly says:

    Strongest prayers accompany, Frank. May God welcome home a son and Jesus a brother, guiding your father to a seat at the banquet, enveloped by love and forever at a comforting rest.

  41. Alan says:

    Remember the good times.

  42. the witch says:

    I am so sorry and I will keep your family in my prayers.

  43. Bob in Feenicks says:

    My condolences on the loss of your father, Frank.
    Your story is very touching and reminds me of my own father from whom I also inherited my sense of humor. I feel blessed he is still around.

    I will pray for you and your family …and perhaps punch a hippie in your father’s memory.

  44. Travelwise42 says:

    No matter how much time you spend with your Dad, when he passes on it always seems like you should have
    spent more time and learned more from him.
    A very nice tribute Frank. Condolences to you and the family

  45. John says:

    I lost a friend and my grandmother to cancer this year, both of them going through genuine hell near the end, and both of them passing through to the other side. I will be forever humbled by the strength they showed, and it sounds like your dad was of the same caliber.

  46. missred says:

    Frank, you have been truly blessed with a wonderful father. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family.

  47. _Jon says:

    Your father raised you well.

  48. Burmashave says:

    I am so very sorry to hear of your loss, Frank. I think EdthePastor said it best, and I too will be praying that the Great Comforter is about you and your family in your time of need.

    I don’t have anything to say that would ease your pain, but I am reminded of how when my dad passed, I realized how truly proud of me he was. Frank was very proud of you. That’s high praise.

  49. joyce says:

    Sorry for your loss. But, you about gave us heart attacks! Reading the title, and taking a second to realize it was your Dad and not you…and my husband reading over my shoulder, asked, “Frank is dead???” Maybe your Dad would be proud that you pranked us, too! Your Dad sounds very literal with his joking. Was he an engineer? Thank you so much for sharing. We know of another agent orange suffering vet, too. Please keep telling his story, as our children won’t learn about it in school, sadly.

  50. DamnCat says:

    Very sorry for your loss. Sounds like he was a nice mean old man.

  51. txgecko says:

    my condolences, Frank. I know when someone you love is ripped out of your life like that some lines of text from a random lurker on your blog isn’t going to do much, but I’m sorry for your loss. I’ll pray for you and yours.

  52. RAML says:

    My condolences, Frank.

  53. john1v6 says:

    My deepest condolences for your loss, Frank Jr. He sounds like a wonderful father. As near as I can tell from reading your blog for a few years, he raised a good son who is growing into a good father in his own right. I pray that God grants peace and comfort to you and your family

  54. arik says:

    My condolences, Frank.

  55. Son of Bob says:

    The prayers of my family are with you and yours Frank.

  56. CarolyntheMommy says:

    Yeah so I had some funny, but it doesn’t seem like the time. I don’t know if I could ever write something or eulogize someone so beautifully as you just did for your dad. May he travel well. I’ll raise my glass to him tonight. God bless you, and I’m glad Buttercup got some great times in with her grandpop.

  57. NO_MO_BAMA says:

    My condolences, He didn’t raise a lazy liberal and he’s never going to run into Ted Kennedy, if that’s not a better place, I don’t know what is.

  58. CaptMidnight says:

    “Agent Orange exposure… in a way he was a very late Vietnam War casualty.” Lost my big brother the same way two years ago. I feel for you, man. Very sorry for your loss.

  59. JimmyRock1125 says:

    Frank,

    I am sorry to learn of your loss. From what I have read of your writing over the past three years, both of your parents did a fine job. And your dad must be very proud of you. Also, this is the best eulogy I have ever read.

  60. Boomersooner says:

    Beautifully written. My prayers are with you and your family.

  61. Mr. Right says:

    Sorry to hear about your Dad, Frank.

    As someone who has lost both parents in the last few years, I know how rough it can be.

    May God bless you and your family, especially your Mom, and may you find comfort in the good memories in this difficult time.

  62. JudyKiserPherigo says:

    I am so sorry for your loss of such a fine father, father-in-law, and Papa. Losing a parent is not easy. And there’s always something you should have asked them before they passed on to where they planned their whole life to go to when the time came. I think of things all the time that I should have asked my Daddy about. He was the only one who could have known the answer. I am sure you will find the same questions. Remember the good times you had with him. Write them down before you forget them. Buttercup needs to hear those stories along her way, too. Love and hugs to the three of you. Please give my condolences to your mother please.

  63. steelworker says:

    It’s hard man. I’m 27 and my father died just a little before my daughter was born (three years ago). He had fallen down the stairs and was comatose for a while, so he never knew he was going to be a grandfather. It’s hard to lose your father so young but you never really lose him. His influence will continue to shape your decisions and your life and you will remember him every day. It might sound cliche but you will always have him with you. I wish the best for you and your family.

  64. Penultimatum says:

    My condolences – judging the tree by the fruit, he lived a good life.

  65. KnitterChick says:

    I’m so sorry, Frank. You painted a beautiful picture of him.

  66. Iowa Jim says:

    It’s always too early for a loved one to die, and it really doesn’t make any difference how much warning you have. I’m offering prayers for you now, and I’ll be offering more in church tomorrow.

  67. snowed in says:

    I’m sorry to hear. Hopefully you and SarahK have saved lots of pictures and videos so that Buttercup will be able, in a way, to remember her grandfather.

    I’ll be praying for your family.

  68. Critter says:

    you and your’s shall be in our prayers.

  69. Hunter says:

    My condolences, Frank. I lost my dad last year, so I know a version of what you’re going through. I find that as much as I’d like to fill his shoes, it really is more a matter of reshaping them to fit your own feet. You’ll do fine, and Buttercup has wonderful parents.

  70. seanmahair says:

    An Irish blessing to you and yours

    May the road rise to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sunshine warm upon your face.
    May the rains fall upon your fields.
    And until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

    The pain will get better I promise. It won’t ever go away but it will get better.

  71. spacemonkey says:

    Chuckles…
    Tears…
    Prayers…

  72. morigu says:

    My condolences on your loss. My dad passed away almost 3 yrs ago and still to this day I miss him. Keep his memory alive by telling Buttercup all about him when she is old enough to understand it all. I do that frequently with my 3 kids. If you can do half of what your father did in life I think it speaks volumes on how a great dad he was.

  73. viking says:

    Thoughts and prayers, pard….

  74. connie says:

    My condolences. My Dad was a VN Vet Navy Corpsman who passed due to lung cancer in 2009. He always taught us to go for the laugh. I can appreciate your sense of humor because of my Dad and through your Dad. RIP.

  75. pajama momma says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss.

  76. Russell Snow says:

    Death was not part of God’s original plan so we were not created to deal with it. My condolences.

  77. Mike says:

    My deepest sympathy and condolences to you and the rest of the Fleming clan.

  78. tsluf273 says:

    I now know what to say to my niece the next time she says that she’s hungry.

    Godspeed, Frank J. Sr.

  79. Terry_Jim says:

    My sympathy and prayers to you and your family.

  80. Mxymaster says:

    Thanks for sharing that with us, Frank. God bless him and you. A good man is worth more than all the gold there is.

  81. jeannebodine says:

    A beautiful tribute, Frank. My sympathy to you & your family.

  82. Capitalist_B says:

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    You Eulogized him very well though.

  83. Bill Burns says:

    My condolences to you, Frank. I just read the obit in the Statesman. Sounds like a man who will be missed.

  84. Jimmy says:

    He thought so highly of you, Frank, he gave you his name when you were born – probably because he already know who you were. That happened (the knowing) with my two sons.

    I’m sure he’s happy that you bring joy and laughter to us all in the best Fleming tradition.

    Highest regards.

  85. storm1977 says:

    God bless you and your family at this time of sadness and hurt. Frank, your Dad was obviously a great man who raised a great son. His strength of character shines through in you, along with his humor. We are praying for you and your family

  86. Slapout says:

    Frank, I’m very sorry for you lose. Your dad sounds a lot like mine. I’m very glad he passed his sense of humor on to you. I thank him and you for all the laughter and joy that IMAO has brought me over the years. May God give you peace at this difficult time.

  87. springeraz says:

    Every word in what you’ve said here tells me that your Father did his job well, and it’s clear that you got it. You’re blessed to have had such a Dad, and so is Buttercup. You’re Dad’s fight is finally over, and now he can rest. For him, no more pain, no more bullshit. Agent Orange is a killer, with a very long fuse. I know, I’m 66 and I’ve been dealing with it all for a long time. The consequences are cumulative. Apart from immediate family, just about everybody I associate with is a Vietnam Vet, and a large percentage of them are dealing with this same thing. I respect them all. I suspect that your Dad would have been right at home with us.

  88. Razor says:

    I’m thankful for your dad, and the many gifts — including your sense of humor — he gave you. I’m sorry for your loss.

  89. jw says:

    my condolences.

  90. Crabby Old Bat says:

    Godspeed, Mean Old Man.

  91. Obamaaintmymama says:

    Deepest sympathies and condolences to you and your family. I lost my mother to cancer when she was only 44, and my father passed six years ago. I can assure you that eventually the fond memories will overtake the pain by a great magnitude.

  92. Jeff the Macedonian says:

    Sorry for your loss, Frank. Your Dad’s in a better place now, likely teasing Jesus.

  93. RedMindBlueState says:

    Condolences to you and yours, Frank. May his memory be eternal.

  94. Bratgirl says:

    What a lovely tribute you have posted.

    My condolences to you and your family, Frank.

  95. Steve Torelli says:

    My mother passed away three weeks ago, lost my dad years ago. Your words are so typical of a great father and son relationship. Glad you had that, so did I. Sorry for your loss. God bless All.

  96. Mike says:

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  97. Gryblin says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad 4 months after my twins were born. He had a sense of humor, too. At the wake I told my dad’s sister that the only good thing was that my dad wouldn’t see the further decline of the country. She replied “Oh, you’re a conservative, too?” I said yes, then asked if she thought my dad would now be able to vote twice in the next presidential election. Now that ACORN is no longer around I don’t have much hope for that.

    And when I ask my husband if he’s hungry, he says “No. I’m Jim”.

  98. zzyzx says:

    My condolences to you and yours, Frank. You have written a great tribute to your father. Your love and respect for him really comes through……..z

  99. NJ Mike says:

    Our condolences, Frank. If there is anything we can do for you in Central Jersey you got my email.

  100. GradualDazzle says:

    I lost my daddy this past February at age 64. I love you guys so much and I send my heartfelt understanding and condolences.

  101. Tim says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. I wish you the best.

  102. Burmashave says:

    Frank, I should have also said that I hope that you will take your own time. You may wish to jump back into things right away, or you heart may need time with family right now. Don’t worry writing at the moment. Harvey has a loose rein on us, and we’re pretty good at amusing ourselves.

  103. Bill says:

    Very sorry frank…my pop is living with me now as he is nearing the end too. It is difficult to watch because he has been the greatest influence on my life ..

  104. Pug Mahon says:

    So sorry, Frank. Dads are so awesome. God bless.

  105. Chris says:

    Frank,

    Condolences and prayers for God’s mercy and comfort go out from me and PatriotMomOfTwo.

    Chris

  106. Conservatarian says:

    May God continue to bless your family.

  107. Alexander Cintron says:

    This story was beautiful, thank you for sharing. May God bless his soul and your family always.

  108. TacitEagle says:

    Frank, God Bless you and your family. I lost my dad just over a year ago. I reckon they are in a better place now.

  109. Alucard says:

    I thought my dad wrote that joke! :)

    Godspeed Frank J. Fleming.

  110. zeeman says:

    Sorry for your lost, God Bless!

  111. Jason Francis says:

    As sad as this is for you and your family, it is always good to hear that a soldier passed at home in his golden years and not upon a foreign battlefield in his prime. May his wisdom and strength carry on to your daughter’s children and beyond.

  112. Guuggysdad says:

    My prayers are with you and your family. I intend to punch an EXTRA hippie today in remembrance of your dad.

  113. silaS marreD says:

    “I think a good rule in dealing with my son, is to smack him up side his head every time I see him.”
    – Frank J. Fleming, Sr. Sep 22, 2010

    Sounds like a good man. My condolences.

  114. physics geek says:

    Frank, you and yours have my deepest condolences. I’m sure that made- and make- him proud every day.

  115. Ernie Loco says:

    My condolences, Frank. I’ll be praying for you and your family in this time of grief.

  116. The Chap in the Deerstalker Cap says:

    I’m sorry to hear it, Frank. Best wishes to you and your loved ones.

  117. Brutus says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. I, too, know how real the pain is.
    It was a year and a half before I could joke about my dad being gone. Quite absently I stated to a casual friend that I hadn’t heard from my father in over a year. My friend asked why. I stated, “‘cuz he’s f*****g dead.” It wasn’t intended as a joke but just came out that way. We laughed pretty hard. I really miss him.
    I will include you and your family in my prayers with my two sons tonight.
    Your father’s legacy will live on with your daughter and in the way you raise her.
    God bless your family.

  118. Dohtimes says:

    We can be released from our suffering and saved from our sins easier than we can break free from the love of our dearest of kin

  119. Devil_Dog says:

    I’m praying for your Dad’s soul. May God bless him and your whole family, Frank.

  120. Erinyes says:

    My sincere condolences…

  121. Corona says:

    Haven’t been here in a few days. Sad to read about your fathers’ passing. I’m sure your Dad was a great guy. You are a great Dad yourself.

  122. chris karma says:

    a wonderful tribute, condolences.

  123. island girl says:

    I often wondered what your father must be like, what he must be thinking when he read your funnies. Now I know. Thanks for that ! Thanks to your Dad for raising you so well ! Thanks to the good Lord for good people like the Fleming Family! :)

  124. 4of7 says:

    Yeah, what they said.

  125. IMAO » Blog Archive » Remembering links:

    [...] I’m remembering my father who passed away last June from ailments related to his exposure to Agent Orange during Vietnam. I don’t know if that [...]

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