A Common Bond

Rev. Frank Maitoza, August 7, 1937 - July 3, 2018

I first met Frank in 2006 in New York City. I liked him from the moment I met him. He had a way of making you feel amazing. During a group therapy session in 2007 in Chicago he was able to break down all of my emotional barriers, and help me through the pain of being disfellowshipped and shunned. Even though we hadn't seen each other in person since then, we still interacted online. I looked forward to his posts in various groups that we were members of. The world is truly missing a great person. Frank I'm reading your poem as this: Don't ever doubt your importance in this world. Be the person, who upon your death, the world realizes something is missing.

The eulogy from his son Joel Maitoza is below.

What can I possibly say about my Dad that everyone he came into contact with doesn’t already know? He was a beautiful, loving spirit with a kind heart who was compassionate and always available to help his fellow man. He had a smile and laugh that were infectious, a brilliant and educated mind that had no boundaries or limitations as he was always on a quest for knowledge, while constantly searching for the next adventure.

Frank was an exceptional father. He had the patience and soul of a saint, the wisdom of a professor, the philosophy of a Buddhist monk and a sense of well-being like no other human I’ve ever met to this day. During my entire life, I honestly can’t recall a time when I’ve ever seen him extremely mad or angry. When I was a little boy, anytime I would get upset and cry, he would squat down so he could be eye level with me and say in a calm, soothing, loving voice, “There’s no reason to cry…everything is going to be okay.” Just like he would talking to another adult. My father had a wonderful, slightly off-kilter sense of humor which he passed down to me. As a little boy, I was raised on a pretty strict diet of Benny Hill, The Carol Burnett show, I Love Lucy and The Three Stooges. At times, my wife Bella will look at me and say, “Where did you get that warped mind of yours”…it was Dad. He raised me to never judge people based on their race, size, gender, religion, color or disability. It was always about authenticity and integrity…to be true to ones self. At an early age, he taught me about drive, motivation, ambition and excellence. To strive to be the best version of myself I can possibly be and provided me with the tools for success. He empowered me to shoot for the stars, follow my dreams and to live life to the fullest. To ask the universe for help when I needed it. He would tell me…Do it today, because there are no guarantees there will be a tomorrow. These experiences and advice shaped me to be the person I am today. Yes Dad, I was listening.

I can’t even begin to tell you about all the amazing times we spent together over the years. He loved to explore and experience new things. Places, cultures, music, food, people…there was no limit. If there was something you’ve never experienced before and were skeptical about doing it he would say, “How do you know you don’t like it if you won’t try it at least once?” In some ways, it was a lot like having you’re very own, personal Anthony Bourdain by your side. Thanks to Dad, I was bitten by the travel bug at an early age as we traveled throughout Europe, Finland, Russia, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico and all over the US on family vacations. Remember when you got lost in the subways of Moscow and jumped on the wrong train or when we stood in line outside for 2 hours in 30 below weather to see Lenin's tomb? How about taking in a show at the Moulin Rouge in Paris to see the dancing girls and sip champagne when I was under age or peacefully gliding down the canals of Venice in a Gondola while being serenaded, or grandma sneezing so hard that she almost fell off the edge into the Grand Canyon? Remember me getting chicken pox during our trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming or digging for clams together on the beach in Mexico and steaming them in our hotel room for dinner, attending the big Luau in Hawaii, going to the Rose Parade or all the trips to Vegas and laughs with the family over the holidays? These are just some of the beautiful memories that will be etched in my soul for eternity.

My Dad was all about research. He read hundreds of books over his lifetime. As he grew older, his passion to research our family’s history became a high priority. Constantly entering information on Ancestry.com and connecting with newly discovered long lost relatives as recently as last month.

Frank loved to dance, swim, hug, laugh, sing, eat good food, visit with his family and share stories. His motto about his time here on earth was “Just passing through…” Although he struggled with Neuropathy in his later years, he would always write at the end of his daily Facebook posts: Life is good and getting better! As we aged together, we would talk about life, it’s experiences, high points and low. Once I became a young adult, he shared with me a quote by Hunter S. Thompson that stuck in my brain throughout my lifetime. “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
That you did Dad…that you did.

You taught me so many life lessons Dad. Please know that you were a stellar role model in raising me. I know when you are blessed with a child, an instruction manual is not included, but as far as I’m concerned you could have written and published it. I hope I made you proud.

I will conclude with a poem he shared with me just before he went into the hospital last month…

I love you so much Pop,
Your son,

If not for you, then there would be a place of emptiness in the heart of God. If not for you, all the good that you have done would still need doing. 
If not for you, the spark of your ideas would not have ignited a fire in others. If not for you, the key roles that you have played in life‘s drama would remain unfilled. 
If not for you, at least one person would not have awakened to his or her dreams. 
If not for you, your triumphs could not be examples to inspire others. 
If not for you, someone who needed love would not have received it. 
If not for you, life would have been shortened or never existed.
If not for you, the song of life would have missed a beat. 
If not for you, your gifts would remain ungiven. 
If not for you, another might have suffered in your place. 
If not for you, someone would have no path to follow. 
If not for you, there would be one less smile, one less laugh, and one less hug. 
If not for you, there would be less mystery. 
If not for you, an animal might be homeless and a garden left unplanted. 
If not for you, something would be missing.

You have always made a difference. Who you are is important every day. You are the face, the heart, and the soul of God.