Frank D Fixer was a handyman.

September 10, 2012

He could handle anything. And he was my granddad.

 

 

I was in the 9th grade when he passed away. One of my fondest memories was trimming his beard with an electric razor as life after stroke made the ordinary chore somewhat challenging to perform on his own. His skin was loose yet firm, rough but fuzzy, and the popular razor I’d seen in television commercials ran over his stubble as swiftly as our lawn mower; which, uniformly, I took pride in operating. Cutting the grass is a Mraz’s inheritance, and my Dad, brother and I honored it, and still do.

 

I barbered my granddad in his favorite chair, poised in the corner of the living room where he could keep one foot propped up on the wood stove and the other out in front of the kitchen door where he could trip me up. He had a quiet sense of humor. We called him Papa Razz. He called me Dick.

 

He kept his eyes closed mostly, rolling his head up and back like a cat having his chin scratched, grinning as such. Infancy had become his body and mind and at 14 I was the adult. Or at least, I felt like I was, entrusted with the care of a well lived man who retained his 1930′s hairstyle and spectacles all the way into the 1990′s.

 

He created the name Frank D Fixer when a soda company appeared at the door of he and my grandma offering to hang an advertisement over his shop, built adjacent to their house. He didn’t over think it. His name is Frank. And he fixes things. Easy enough. The sign hung for decades, maybe even a full decade after his departure, and only came down when my grandmother’s roof was slain by a tree during a heavy summer storm. Residents of Hanover, Mechanicsville and Tappahannock referred to Papa’s sign as a landmark. In our rural Virginia town it was common to hear things like, “Go 2 miles past Frank D Fixer and turn left.”

 

With him I’d take out the dinner scraps and toss them into the compost pile and then stand back and watch him burn trash in a barrel. The years he spent welding in the dark shop was before my time and in my time I was too young to apprentice anyway. I preferred climbing trees, picking blackberries and racing go-karts. In the backyard he grew long rows of tomatoes, squash, melon and okra, which my grandmother boiled into something unrecognizable, which was most certainly my least favorite food of that era. Luckily my brother lost control of the go-kart one day and plowed over all the okra, cleaning the plates in advance for everyone.

 

Papa passed taking a nap in his favorite chair. The same chair I trimmed his beard days earlier. Just a gentle nod of the head into that sweet daytime catnap bliss he went. Lucky man.

 

Today I’m nearly half the age he was when his accomplished life came to a close. I’m cutting my teeth on a house and building a shop of my own, preparing to raise a family. My Dad, now retired, still cuts the family’s grass with glee. Being the son and grandson of those men has a lot to do with my success. Knowing how hard they worked for their families gives me the strength and encouragement I need to do the same. Plus, the kind of work they did is a constant reminder that the work I do is really play.

 

As for the the Fixer signs, they remain in storage until my sister and I find time to restore them and decide on new locations to hang them. I’d like to put one over the garage of the studio at the farm in San Diego, overlooking and inspiring the next few generations of Mraz’s that may come up there; Oh, the seeds we’ll sow, the lawns we mow and the okra we’ll grow.

 

…I will grow you a garden of Eden. And I will bless our family with the gifts my granddad handed me. How wonderful that will be.

 

 

COMMENTS (30)
  • Avatar of will.bagby
    will.bagby said ...

    My first job as a machinist apprentice at West Engineering was working for Jason’s grandfather, Frank. He worked me hard and long. He was fair and honest with a tremendous laugh and the hugest fingers I’ve ever seen on a man. It was so good see his face again on this blog and to watch the story around his sign on the tv show-”American Restoration.” I’m a fifth grade teacher now but every day I try to pass on the most important lessons I’ve learn in life from my father and Frank – hard work and kindness. I’m sure he’s very proud of Jason.

  • Avatar of davidbjohnson
    davidbjohnson said ...

    I just saw the episode of American Restoration where Rick restored your grandfathers sign. It brought back memories of my childhood. When I was a child we lived in Lakeside and spent a great deal of time on the Rappahannock River in Tappahannock. We would ride down 360 and I remember seeing the sign. It brought back great memories of my father who passed away 22 years ago. Jason, thank you so much for bring back some great memories and a few happy tears to my eyes.

    Also, I have two nieces that went to Lee Davis around the same time you did.

    Again, thanks for the memories.

    David J

  • Avatar of Moniroca
    Moniroca said ...

    Que bonic Jason! És molt dolç com parles de la família… serà bonic veure’t com a pare! Segur!

  • Avatar of martinthefixer

    I don´t know how to begin (I´m laughing)and I´m thinking if there´s a chance that you reply it to me. Well, it´s a beginning, that in fact comes from 2009 including GRAN REX Concert and Fortunately my Wife,kids(7/12)and Me(39)have the luck to enjoy YOU nowaday. So, we´re from Buenos Aires,Argentina.What if i tell you,that at least ones a day we listen you, in my alarm-clock 4:30 A.M.,then a song or because fbook going into yt. for the latest. We´re for sure fans.
    Well,I don´t want to be sticky, but at this time I´m in the MUD.

    Then,I´m Martin The Fixer because It´s My Way.

    Today, it was funny when Thiago(7)arrive from the school and his teacher writed down a note to us,explaing that my kid realize that a partner had his Beyblade (a toy), because of some repear I´d made a few days ago.
    Gracias/Thanks and more……

  • Avatar of marissaa
    marissaa said ...

    Frank D Fixer has become part of our family. My kids (4 and 5) always ask me to play “#8″ when we are in the car. I often find them playing in their rooms with their hard hats on referring to one another as “Frankie Fixer”. These are precious memories for me, thank you for sharing yours.

  • Avatar of K.T.
    K.T. said ...

    Sometimes I couldnt help but wondering if Autumn is designed to “miss”, miss all the persons in distant. At the moment finally steal a bit time to sit down catching a breath and taking a pause, the tides of memory is just like the Tsunami, the wave flooded to mind suddenly, quickly and overwhelming.

    My grandfather was a tea tree planter; specialized on selecting qualified tea leaves and baking them. Before he told me all his secrets of how to plant the tea trees, he passed away. So when I was tasting one cup of tea, sometimes I would imagine how my grandfather plant a tree, how gentle touch he would give on a tree; a little bitter of this taste, but much more is this pleasant smell tangled up with my nose, my mind.

    Mr. Frank D. Fixer must be very proud of his grandson. What makes his grandson being so distinctive from others, not only because of his talent or his profession of duty of moral worth but also it is in his good heart of “Consideration”, consideration of giving his band a small hat during travel, encourging them when some pitches go different directions instead of a long face, even he is in the half way of the world, he still does his best to take care of everyone if feeling good and brought spotlight consciously to his teamates, of course as well as keep posting the messages which might take some mysterious impacts.

    And sometimes like the other side of coin, this consideration trapped him too. But, “hey…we are just God’s child, we made mistakes, like most of them can not be solved, like some questions can not be answered, but they can only be OUTGROWN.” “Compel” is a word a little bit too harsh, I hope that oak can just grow as he naturally originally is, no that stressful to carry that many packages, At least, it is either bullshit or brilliant, maybe like this responding monologue could being a possibility of either way. No matter what, Future will take care of itself.

    How about that pretty girl wept a little in that bookstore when she heard the song of I won’t give up? I guess that gentle voice must touch her soul softly somehow like the key to her emergency door to help her out of this exist. The voice of no entertaining, no acting, no force but just like the small stream water floating from right ear to the other, slowly but firmly. The emotion of first live version of I won’t give up is like people claim it and try to escape while earthquake “is” happening, a bit suffering, uncertainty and cofusing. The bookstore live version is more like “after” the earthquake, people confirm their will of I won’t give up along with their family standing in front of their collapsed house. This will is in silent but strongly through their tight handhold.

    Very happy for that singer’s further step, from monologue to the dialogue, a real fixer, making people from aggressive to passive in an instant. And of course his team to make this happen. Thank you all very much. First time when watched the concert with slides of animals in the background, it reminds me the fairy, “Town Musicians of Bremen”. This group is teamed up with a donkey, a dog, a cat, a rooster. One by one they leave their homes for different reasons and set out together. They decide to go to Bremen, known for its freedom, to live without owners. In their voyage, they confront the problem, difficulties, and hunters. But they don’t give it up and are all together to work it out. In this end, the tricky is they never been to Bremen, but instead, they get better, every indivisual one of this team arrive their dreamland, the dreamland in peace and happiness, so do the listeners.

    The moral worth, Philosophor Kant thinks its our rational capacity that makes us distinctive, that sets us apart from and above mere animal existsence. And act freely is to act autonomously, and to act autonomously is to act a law that I give to myself. That is, the Tree-Planting project, do the right thing for the right reason; the means is its end, it’s good IN itself, just shines like a jewelry from inside. Thanks a lot for this project, it did re-open my dialogue with the tree, my first very humble dance partner since I was a child.

    In one fine Sunday afternoon before sunset, I went out jogging as usual. At the end of road along the river side, there is a giant ficus tree where is always my ending point to stumble besides for a while, having kinda dialouge with my tree like a creep, asking some new and old questions, “Am I silly? Am I too silly?” Ancients circled around, Prantle& Issac, Albert& Madam Currie, Socrates& William, they debated; they all eagarly want to share their beautiful formulas or brilliant comedies, but I know none of them are satisfied. The gleam came from the boughs; the breeze rustled the leaves; slightly glimmers spread through the branches, my head tried slightly lying down tree’s shoulder, and touched the temperature.

    Then, a first drop of water tenderly fell on my face. My tears? Two drops, three, four…no, it’s rainning! I shall go or I shall run.

    I hesitated for few seconds, which way shall I run? The cover in nearest left direction was about 2,000 feet, and the right one was almost same. While still thinking, the earphone music was still running, at the moment I was about to have one step further, there was a pretty similar voice, after a long prelude in the live version record, long enough to make one instant coffee, so I ignored this song at firstly or maybe I focus on rain instead.

    That similar voice starts with “Well sometimes the sun shines on. Other people’s houses and not mine….”…well, I laughed, what the****, there are so many songs on list, but just at this second of thunder RAIN, it comes out SUNSHINE song? especially from the singer who brings the language of lover? Gosh…I laughed again with tears. Why shall I supposed to run? Why shall I have to run? What shall I run for?

    I have been always running for quite a long time, running from one schedule to another, running from one destination to another, and running from one expectation to another. This sudden pouring thunderstorm rain was exactly what I was waiting for and it coming in such a right time, right place, and huge enough to wake up a poor soul from a long nap in the dizzy summer afternoon. Why shall I have to run again? I just realized that I don’t need to run anymore, instead that I took a walk this time in this such an extraordinary rain. Yes, I Walk In The Rain. Actually no sunshine or even nor rain in mind.

    Time once came and withered away my love;
    That thunderstormy white looks like a concentration of the sky,
    And sails the soul into its sight.
    Smiled, deep breathed and embraced my ancestral trees,
    Or in memory puried
    Between mile 43~44, my kingdom of Universe.
    Love is right here and not going anywhere;
    Love is nothing more or anything less;
    Love is not living as it never die;
    Love is to sense;
    Silence, love,
    Calmness, joy,
    In that drop, I live it again.

    Sometimes connecting the series of small dots in life, those mysterical signals and undeniable coincidences, the meaning of Gods’ arrangements just come out to be meaningful until they are finished, abandoned or outgrown as a picture, a prose, a song or a book which usually takes quite some time before arriving there. What gets us out of bed in the morning are merely a bee’s buzz of “discovering” something totally new.

    Thank you so much humbly, Mraz Family. The real fixers ever, from past to the present, from out to the inside.

    Ps. Season changed, so did the temperature. If anyone coincidentally see this message and not only like bare organic feet but also the naked body, don’t forget to take care of the best instrument in the world ( health of body). Keep warm please. : )

  • Avatar of r.a.bandy
    r.a.bandy said ...

    *has always been

  • Avatar of r.a.bandy
    r.a.bandy said ...

    hang them back up in mechanicsville! i have vague memories of the signs when i was growing up – the windmill has always big landmark on my side of town.

  • Avatar of heidilitwiler
    heidilitwiler said ...

    Jason,

    What a beautiful description of your grandad! I can tell by your eloquent and loving words that you have such a fondness in your heart for this man and for everything that just his presence in your life represented. And how wonderful it is that you can memorialize him with your music….thank you so much for sharing that (and this journal posting) with the world!

    Flash forward to a picture of you and your future grandson….you sitting in your chair, him buzzing your beard, the Frank D. Fixer sign hanging in the background :D What a beautiful picture that is!

    Much peace and blessings!

  • Avatar of didikini
    didikini said ...

    Go, Mraz, Go!

    I’m sending you all the blessing that one needs to do whatever he wants to do. Anything you do, just be happy and in peace with life. Then it’s sure all you will make out of it, will be something good.

    love u!

  • Avatar of srents
    srents said ...

    Thank you so much for bringing this song to us, and for telling us more about the man behind the song. My grandpa is a fixer, too – this song is so close to our relationship, it’s scary :) Our backyards connected when I was growing up, and he truly did reinvent the part to fix a broken home as my mom put the pieces back together after a divorce. He suffered a ruptured aneurysm on 4/2/12. He was still in a medically induced coma in the ICU when this album came out – I listened to the song for the first time on the way to the hospital to see him and immediately cried tears of release… the song brought back so many memories of my childhood and my relationship with my grandpa, and I realized that I needed to be thankful for those times and accept the outcome of whatever was going to happen. Over the next few weeks I would sing to him, “well I wish I was a fixer..I would fix you up inside.” Grandpa recovered and came home at the end of May. He has since asked me to take over some of the family business affairs (including some involvement with the family farm). I am so grateful for the opportunity to bless our family with the gifts and knowledge he gave me… and so grateful to you and this song for helping me appreciate and value what’s in front of me.

    I can’t wait for the show tonight – it will be my 6th or 7th Mraz show since 2002. I hope I get to hear this song tonight – if you sing it for us, I’ll be thanking my lucky stars for Stan the Fixer :)

  • Avatar of DianeM
    DianeM said ...

    Amazing. Simply, completely amazing. Your words and music leave me in awe in a daily basis. Whoever you raise a family with will be a very lucky person. A man that has a strong sense of family and heritage….wow, what a man you are. I can’t wait to see you in concert tomorrow.

  • Avatar of jp
    jp said ...

    There is ALWAYS one thing that all Handymen have in common while in our shops……

    WE ALWAYS HAVE OUR RADIOS ON……….KEEP THE TUNES COMING………..

    And you are sooooooo right about your Granddads sign….It was a Landmark for sure and missed by all.

    jp

  • Avatar of Marianne
    Marianne said ...

    Sooooo beautiful……..this is pure love……………….!!!! <3 <3 <3 :-*********

  • Avatar of Marianne
    Marianne said ...

    ……….pure Love………………………:) <3 <3 <3

  • Avatar of daniela.mata.52

    wowwww, it’s wonderful,I see where do you came from,not everyone can see the things like you, unfortunately not everybody look his life with grateful, you are a nice guy, your heart it’s…..gorgeous!

  • Avatar of headlessmac
    headlessmac said ...

    Geez, this made me cry. I loved my granddad. I take my family on vacation to the town he lived in, the house is long gone, but the ghosts are everywhere. It makes me happy to take my family to the places where I grew up. I always wondered if Frank D. Fixer was a made up name. Many thanks for sharing this.
    PS. LOVED seeing you in Toronto the other night!

    Live High,
    Heather

  • Avatar of GloriousMe
    GloriousMe said ...

    What a blessing it is to have had grandparents that appreciate and take an interest in us as children. With all the crap life deals out, it reassures us the world can look and feel good when you’re old enough to see it with perspective. Some people don’t have that kind of relationship to hold close to their heart. So, I try and be extra grateful for the awesome old folks in my life. Good read today, thanks.

  • Avatar of Telluselle
    Telluselle said ...

    From our minds into the bodies. How wonderful that will be.

  • Avatar of 4meclara
    4meclara said ...

    Heart touching… Thank you! I had only one grandmother. We had a special relationship; although she passed away 7 years ago, she is still present in my heart and in my dreams.

  • Avatar of mrazwordplay
    mrazwordplay said ...

    I got all teary-eyed reading that. My dad was a down to earth, fix anything, family man. I miss him.
    He worked hard, never made much money, but provided a rich, loving environment for his family.
    Pass on those family values, goodness knows this world needs it!

    See you in Vancouver (with Ally!)

  • Avatar of Ally
    Ally said ...

    This poignant entry strikes me as a love letter to someone other than just your Papa Razz …am I correct, little Dicky?

    This type of post is my favorite…. A tear, followed by laughter (at the thought of your Mr. Fixer tripping you in the kitchen :)

    Thank you, J…See you in Vancouver….

    Xox

  • Avatar of ashley
    ashley said ...

    Beautiful. It’s right nice to “hear” your personal voice again, and this was a very sweet post. I love learning about grandparents. It’s such a warm way to connect to someone’s familial consciousness. Grandpa Bliss had an orchard. Built his own house. Shuffled through the trees with his cane, plucking stone fruits. Grammy Bliss would make peach jelly & sweet pickles & fill the gravel-floored basement with mason jars. I was thinking about them yesterday at the laundromat with Ram Dass open on my lap & an apple in my paw. But, anyway, thanks for these stories. You’ll make a magical gramps.

  • Avatar of costellocrew5
    costellocrew5 said ...

    I loved reading this. Thank you. Herb (Grampy) was my Frank and he holds a very similar place in my heart and memory. He was a self-built man; sometimes gruff, but with a marsh-mellow center. He was always building and working with his hands. One memorable project was digging out a basement under his house and the rule was that anyone who visited had to come and dig out a few buckets of dirt before they’d get a drink. When he finally poured the cement, he miscalculated, and for decades after he’d hit his head on the pipes in the ceiling because the ceiling was too low (or the floor to high!) The Herb stories are endless. After he died when I was 20, I slept in his bed with my grandmother for days. I can still smell him and feel him and my Grammie who passed away just a few years ago. These wonderful people live on in us and the more we share their stories, the more we are reminded of what really matters in life. It’s the little things that are the big things. xo

  • Avatar of normason
    normason said ...

    Hey, boy! It feels like I haven’t talked to you in ages! How the hell are you?! I hope that you’re having fun, and if you’re not having fun, I hope that you see the light at the end of the tunnel, and if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, keep your head down and keep moving forward. You’ll be surrounded by sunshine in no time!

    I didn’t know that your middle name was Richard. It’s not?! Ooooooh. So, your Granddad was ornery! I bet you learned A LOT of words from him!

    Love

  • Avatar of mrazfan1031
    mrazfan1031 said ...

    Thank you for sharing your loving memories of your Grand Dad. I think that he would be so proud of you.I am sure you have many qualities that came from him. Our family and friends are really our greatest treasures in this life. I am grateful for so many loving memories. I can’t wait to see a picture of that sign hanging in your studio. Thank you for being you! Take care, and thanks for your music, it has actually fixed my heart… (several times).
    Love,
    Linda

  • This is so sweet… and so admirable that you never forget your roots.

    I bet he’s looking down at you and feeling very proud.

    Thanks for sharing <3

  • Avatar of Cathy777
    Cathy777 said ...

    How touching. Thank you for sharing yourself so generously with your fans! I had the pleasure of meeting you in Raleigh and was overwhelmed by you kindness and generosity. I wish you all the love you give and my your future plans overflow with blessings from above.

    Your fan and friend,
    Cathy

    P.s. we disagree on one thing…I love okra, even boiled! It slides down really easily :-)

  • Avatar of Rose
    Rose said ...

    Wow (how many posts I have I made that start with wow anyway?)
    My Grampa Pat was a fixer too. I wasn’t as close with him..but I bet his shop smelled the same as your pop’s shop…I rarely get a wiff of that but I bet you know what I am talking about and when I do cross that scent it throws me for a loop.

    A great reminder how what we do with and around our kids sticks with them. I think I am married to a Frank D Fixer…he cuts our grass..about 2 acres no riding lawn mower here:) Gardens, stacks wood, cleans the chicken coop and the kids follow him and help him at every turn. I know it’s because they love spending time with him and he makes hard labor fun (I haven’t quite bought into that theory, but it’s their special time). I have no doubt that the memories we are creating are going to last a lifetime. I have no doubt my kids and grandkids and great grandkids will benefit from this amazing man.

    I am so impressed at the care you gave your grandpa, what a great 14 year old you were. And what a sweet tribute to a wonderful man.

    How are things going on the tour? Can’t wait to see you! Bring some sunshine to the gorge!

    Rose

  • Avatar of NormaBackwards

    What beautiful memories you have and what beautiful memories you will continue to create in your journey of life, cherish every minute.
    -love

COPYRIGHT © 2014 JASON MRAZ, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. SITE BY THE UPRISING CREATIVE | WEB HOSTING BY (MT) | Contacts | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use