Frantisek “Frank” Kulifaj, a 48-year-old immigrant from Slovakia, was born deaf. The only one in his family to leave the communist rule of his home country for the freedom and democracy of the United States, he was described as a “work horse” by his colleagues. He was a dedicated husband and father to his wife, Tina, and daughter Erika Jana and cherished by many of his daughter’s friends as a surrogate father.
Frank tragically died in a car accident, on July 11, 2011. Ten days before his accident he had his cochlear implant taken out so he could have an MRI. Within 2 days of being discharged home he started telling his wife that he could hear music, which was something he could never do, even with his implant. He also described hearing voices, especially the voice of God. He gathered his small family and told them he was going to find a new job and donate all of his money to the homeless and that God wanted him to help people. He also told them he believed he was going to die. Frank was not a particularly religious man, so this change in him was worrisome. Tina and Erika thought, however, that the MRI test results would help explain it.
While traveling at a conference over the weekend, Tina noted that $300.00 had been spent on their debit card at a Christian store near their home and thought it somewhat odd. The following Monday morning Frank told his daughter he was driving to Pittsburgh for his MRI test and kissed her goodbye. Frank never arrived in Pittsburgh.
When a procurement coordinator met with Tina and Erika in the emergency room that night, Tina said she most certainly would not have said yes to donation had it not been for one thing: The way the coordinator worded the question. He asked, “Do you think Frank would have wanted to help people?” Their previous conversation, when the three of them discussed Frank donating all of his money to the homeless, immediately came to mind. Tina looked at Erika and they both said yes.
After Frank’s death, Tina was charged with having to pick up Frank’s belongings from the tow truck company. It turned out that when Frank left the house that Monday morning, he hadn’t packed a bag for Pittsburgh. In fact, the only things he took with him were the items he had purchased over the weekend. The truck driver handed Tina a large framed picture of Jesus, still entirely intact, and asked if she would take a picture of him holding the art. He said there was no way that picture should have remained whole, the crash was just too devastating. When she saw the car, she understood what he meant. The picture did not have a scratch on it. When Tina went to the police station to finish up details with the investigator and he heard that she had the picture, he also asked to be photographed with the (now famous to those at the accident scene) portrait.
Frank’s family misses him a great deal and has spent the last year coming to grips with life without him. They are still not sure if what happened to Frank the last week of his life was prophecy or some infection from the removal of the cochlear implant. But, the Jesus picture that he purchased is kept in a prominent spot. All the same, they are very proud that in the end, through donation, Frank’s wish was honored and he fulfilled his destiny.