The Life of Joseph E. Francis
10/17/1941 – 11/28/2004
I would like to take this time to share a story about my uncle’s life. He was such a character and you can never replace him. I do hope that the recipients who receive his organs will have that chance to live life once again to it’s fullest and to the best of their ability. This was a day that was a very hard day to make the decision but, we know it was the best thing to do and that was to donate his organs. I want to take this time to share a little about my uncle and our family. With this, it can give you an idea of the kind of man he was. I want you to know that it makes me feel very good to know that my uncle lives on. His death was a very difficult thing to process on such short notice. My uncle was such a sweet man and I am not sure why things happen the way they do in life. My uncle was hit by a car while he stood at an intersection trying to cross over in Slidell. The car did a right turn from a side street into the main highway where my uncle stood and did not see him. When the driver made the right turn his mirror on his Ford Explorer hit my uncle in the left eye breaking his orbit area and causing a C fracture in the neck. Within a very short time afterwards, his brain activity began to weaken and diminish. I received the call about a half hour later and by the time I got to the hospital, they had told me there was no chances of surviving. For me, this was one of the second most difficult days that I had to face with this kind of news and then making the decisions for him. My uncle had on his identification card that he wanted to be an organ donor. LOPA had been notified of this and came to the hospital. For me, it was the first time I actually had to make some decisions and calls on this level. I had to call my parents and inform them of the news and needed my father to get here to sign any paperwork that was needed. I went ahead and told LOPA that I knew as hard as it was for me to watch my uncle go down hill and not be able to recover I had to respect his request to donate his organs. I would like you to know that if there was anything I could do or give my uncle, it was just knowing that he touched and helped someone to spare their life. This was the type of man my uncle was. He was always willing to help someone. He was the type of man that would always put his needs last to help someone. He could not stand to see anyone be taken advantage of. He knew no strangers. When you met him, it’s as though you knew him all your life. He always welcomed everyone. Lots of times I would not hardly hear from my friends or see them and there were days I would come home and there is my uncle hanging out with my friends on the swing. He was one of a kind. He loved life. He enjoyed working in the yard, building bonfires, listening to music, planting and building things. I truly admired him for his accomplishments in life. I would love to first begin with his life as a child and lead to his life as an adult until he passed away. We grew up in Grand Calliou, Louisiana. This is a very small town south of Houma, Louisiana (Terrebonne Parish). My family all live here and still continues to live there with the exception of just a couple of us. My grandparents were full blooded Indians. My grandfather was a trapper. He worked very hard to provide for his family. He and my grandmother had eight children. My grandfather was well known in our town and advocated for education. He came from a family of about twelve children. My grandmother came from a large family a well. She came from a family of about twelve children as well. My grandmother was a devoted and loving housewife. She had no education and spoke only French. When we were younger, Cajun French was the language used mainly where we grew up. We also were discriminated against in several ways. They were not allowed any education like today, they were segregated in the schools, they were punished for speaking French and not English. My uncle, by the time he was nine years old, decided to go work on a tug boat. He was deck hand and loved being on the water. When he turned eighteen, he decided to go offshore. My uncle worked offshore and earned his way up the chain of command with licensing to eventually become a merchant marine captain. By the time he was about 26 years old, he moved to England. He lived there for twenty-seven years. He married a woman from England and they had one child, a daughter and two grandchildren who still live there. He also has a stepdaughter who lives there and two additional grandchildren who live in England as well. They divorced and my uncle decided to get back to sea and work for a number of years. He traveled all over the world while at sea and loved this. He always talked about the places he traveled and the people he met along the way. He then found himself venturing back to the United States in 1996. He lived with me and my two sons for the last two and half years before he passed away. He wanted to come and help me out since I lived here in Slidell with no family members. My former spouse Chad, last summer was in a car accident that took his life. This was a very trying time for my two sons who were 9 and 10 years old to lose their father. We had been dealing with this and then a few months later my uncle. My uncle was such a blessing to have around and just showed me so much of life. He was a funny person. He had such a good sense of humor and would always joke around. He made Slidell his home and began to help others out here. There was an elderly lady that people were taking advantage of and ripping her off with work needing to be done on her home. My uncle could not stand for this. He would go and help her out and repair things on her home so no one would rip her off. He loved to walk or ride his bike. On the day of his accident, this is where he was going when he was struck by this man. He had gotten up early before we were going to our morning mass so, he could get home early. I was supposed to bring him to work this morning but, he decided to ride his bike this day. Me and my two sons had gone the night before to get the Christmas tree so we could trim and decorate it when my uncle got back from work. My uncle wanted to go to work for a little while and come home early so we could do this. He always stayed busy doing something. No matter what he was doing, if someone came to him and said they needed help, he would stop what he was doing to help them. There were days I would come home from work and my yard would be filled with people. I would tell him “uncle, what are you doing?”. He would be hanging out with my friends sitting on the swing listening to music and sometimes just drinking a beer after doing work around the house. He was a character! He loved seafood and he loved Elvis. He would tell everyone “hi, I’m Elvis Presley”. If I was talking to him about something serious, he would always throw something or another at me in a joke. I would laugh and say “uncle I’m trying to be serious”. He was so sweet. He loved to cook and entertain. If you put him in front of a stove, I am telling you that you would have thought he was entertaining a celebrity. He had to have things a certain way and had to display it on a table neatly set up. He was good to have around. He had the patience of a saint. He would take the time to wash, dry and iron clothes. He got a joy out of doing this. He never got bored doing these things. His favorite song was Pictures by Kid Rock and Cheryl Crowe. I know if my uncle could back time up, I can assure you he would not have wanted to pass away just yet. However, we never know what out plans are and when our time is up in this life. We do know that when you number is up, it is up no matter where you are in life. I am just so glad that because his life ended short, that life still can live on. I am so glad to know that we were able to do that. For me and my family we know we will be with my uncle in our next life. We are just blessed to know that he lives in others and gave them a chance at life. He loved life to it’s fullest and I know he is proud to give this to someone in his place here on earth. My family hopes that for all the ones who received his organs, that you live so many more blessed years with your family.
I want to thank LOPA so very much. When everything happened that left us in a very emotional and devastated stated, LOPA was there to assist with the process. They were there to give reassurance and help up walk through this process. I have to honestly say that this is a wonderful thing you are doing, not only for the person who passed on and for the person who will receive, but for the families who are walking through this. Your assistance has helped me and my family transition, understand and accept things a lot better verses if we would not have taken this process. Thank you so very much for your support.
The Francis Family