~ notes from an uncommon journey ~

R.I.P. Joseph "Doc Joe" Franz, June 17, 1952–January 22, 2013

This week I learned the devastating news that my doctor, Joseph "Doc Joe" Franz, had passed away.

Doc Joe was so much more than my doctor. Even to call him my friend isn't quite right. He was almost like a father figure in my life. He didn't just care for me medically, he cared about me personally. A line from his obituary reads, "Doc Joe was a compassionate and caring man who treated his patients as if they were family." I am here to tell you: this is true.

The first time I met Doc Joe was many years ago, when he treated me at an urgent care place. (I had a different regular doctor at the time.) I left with one of his business cards. Some time later, when I couldn't get in to see my regular doctor, I looked up Dr. Franz. I discovered he had his own practice, so I went to see him for whatever my concern was at the time. In that visit, I ended up telling him about some of the difficult things I was going through. He sat with and listened to me for half an hour, and not once did he look at the time, tell me he had other patients he had to get to, or hurry me along in any way. I left his office thinking, "I'm going to him from now on!" And I did. I had my other doctor transfer my records to his office, and he was my doctor from that day on.

We talked often about my struggles. And many times when we did, he'd use the analogy that I was lost in a forest...just trying to find my way out, to the sunshine. It was apt.

I remember how sad he was for me when Ron passed. He said something to the effect of...he'd seen me already go through so much, and things had just started looking up. Yeah, no kidding.

And I can't forget the day I told him that I suspected I was hypothyroid. As I've said before, he surprised me with how open he was to listening to my symptoms and the research I had done. Being on thyroid replacement therapy has done a lot of good for me, and I owe that in large part to him.

I've already thought many times about how I can honor his memory. What can I do specifically to pay tribute to his spirit? But it pretty quickly came to me: I can determine even more to finally, fully find my way to the sunshine.

My life is forever enriched for having known Doc Joe. There will never be another like him.

* * *

Doc Joe: You were a bright spot in my life. You cared for me and you cared about me. I can never thank you enough for that. I promise you: I will find my way to the sunshine. The rays have started to peak through (thanks in part to you), but there's still work to be done. I'll remember you when yet again I'm tempted to give it up. Someday, I'll be dancing in the clearing, bathed in the sunlight...and I'll remember you then too.

Tell Ron how much I miss him.

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