Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace
by Miles Patrick Yohnke
Francis Lewis Yohnke - Circa 1949
"Make me an instrument of thy peace." These are the words that rest on my father's tombstone. October 17th, 2008 was forty years since an accident in a Potash mine took his life. Francis Lewis Yohnke was just 39.
On the night of October 16th, coming up on ten o'clock my Mother (who always called him Francis) prepared what would be his last meal...bacon and eggs.
That week he worked night shift. He started at midnight. Just after 2am, the group that Dad was supervising went for coffee. There was a machine that always had to be manned and he said, "It's okay. You guys all go and I'll work it." The machine was tricky. It would move quickly, periodically and for one moment Dad made a mistake--he didn't pay attention, and it struck him in the head; lodged in Dad's skull. With panic, the workers rushed and cut the base of the machine; transporting it with him in the ambulance.
Mother was notified that there was an accident and to meet at the hospital.
My oldest brother Ken, then sixteen, drove Mother, and my other brother Bob, then fourteen, stayed with me. Father died on route.
In the middle of this ordeal, a spokesperson for the hospital asked my mother if they could take one of my father's eyes-- that they had a person waiting for it. My mother replied: "Yes!"
Year's later, in the late summer of 2006, I was at the Woodlawn Cemetery where my father's body rests. As I finished praying and stood, a man from behind me said, "How did you know, Frank?" I quickly thought, knowing how only the family, and his friends and co-workers called him "Frank," that this man must have known him. As I turned to face him, I replied, "He's my father." This man, Frank Bazylak as I would learn later, replied confidently, "I worked with your father for a short time--just over a year--but he made an impact on my life. He was so intense, so demanding and yet so giving."
"You know, he wasn't meant to be there that day. But that was Frank." he said. Almost four decades later and from a stranger, there in the cemetery, Frank Bazylak's words were surreal in a way. I'd heard wonderful stories from family, and from friends, but this--after all of that time--and there--beautiful!
Jack Kornfield once wrote, "The trouble is that you think you have time."
Jay Conrad Levinson said, "It is certainly not money, as many people have been falsely led to believe. Instead, time is life. Time is opportunity.
Each second of time is precious. The more you are aware of that, the more likely you'll be never to waste your time. Unlike other resources, it is non-renewable, available in limited quantities, and substitutes are not possible."
Some things I've learned from my father's life and passing: time is precious, and we need to find our own voice and be original. No "Can'ts", "Buts" or "What Ifs." No small-minded thoughts. Challenge yourself. Don't place limits on yourself. Learn to have a thirst for knowledge. Live with passion. Live with integrity and be accountable. Place others before yourself. One person caring about another represents life's greatest value.
Father's favorite hockey team was the Detroit Red Wings. His favorite player was Gordie Howe. Howe once said, "I know if I give 100% of my best, I can rest easy." I know my father is resting easy, as he gave his best every day he was alive!
From the prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred; let me sew love
Where there is injury; pardon
Where there is doubt; faith
Where there is despair; hope
Where there is darkness; light
Where there is sadness; joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled; as to console
To be understood; as to understand
To be loved; as to love
It is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life
For my father: Francis Lewis Yohnke (April 12th 1929 - October 17th 1968)
By Miles Patrick Yohnke
© 2008 All Rights Reserved.
About the Author
Globally recognized and award-nominated engineer, producer, writer, poet and founder and C.E.O. of 5 Star Productions, Miles Patrick Yohnke brings many years of experience to the music industry; including many awards in sales and marketing. If you are looking at developing your career, Yohnke offers consulting in person, by phone or via email. For more info, please contact him directly at: 306.227.6379 or email at: miles(at)5-starproductions.com.