Upon first meeting Jimmy Franzo four years ago I was a little intimated. He was a tall, ruggedly handsome man, with tiger-like tattoos, and a personality larger than the room. But, after getting to know him, I learned about the gentle and loving man beneath his larger-than-life exterior.
I still remember clearly three years ago when I first heard he was struck with a heart condition. I called him right away to find out how serious it was. I remember crying as he told me what seemed like a grim prognosis; thinking that his time was limited. At the time, Jimmy said the doctors were telling him to start making “The Plans.” But, by the grace of a loving God, Jimmy is still with us today over three years later.
Currently, Jimmy lives in North Hollywood and is 53-years-old. Since receiving a new heart, that’s right he survived a heart transplant, he’s returned to his career as a voiceover artist.
First and foremost, Jimmy implores everyone to be an organ donor. He said, “That’s what I’m most passionate about. The gentleman that donated his heart to me also kept five other people alive with his lungs, liver, and kidneys..” Such a beautiful story of someone who continued to give even after they left their earthly body.
When asked about how he ended up in Los Angeles, Jimmy said, “My family is from Brooklyn, New York, but they moved to San Francisco, where I was born a year later.”
Jimmy said the miracle of his story started, “Three years ago while caring for my father who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. I was diagnosed with terminal congestive heart failure. Over the next 12 months my heart stopped nine times, I had four surgeries ending in having an artificial heart implanted. Waiting for a heart transplant, staring death in the face, I experienced an incredible, incomprehensible journey of love and tears, culminating in a successful heart transplant on August 23rd, 2015. The inevitable roller coaster of life has thrown me a few times, battling with obesity and then alcohol and drug addiction, happy to report the last 15 years has been a steady climb back to productive and successful life.”
Most of the conversations I’ve had with Jimmy include talking about his passions. When asked what he was most proud of he said, “I’m most proud of my two sons. They are incredible men. They are passionate about their dreams and positively affect everyone they come in contact with.”
Jimmy ended the interview by adding, “I have always tried my best at living honorably and with divine principles.”
You can find Jimmy on Facebook at James Franzo. Please enjoy his answers to the bonus questions and the beautiful pictures he has provided.
If you could cure one disease in the world what it be? Why?
I would like to say self-centeredness and self-obsession. Ha Ha! I guess those are not really considered diseases. I would have to say congestive heart failure. It kills tens of thousands every year and nearly 7000 people who are waiting for a heart transplant die each year.
What advice would you give the teenage you?
I would tell the teenage me to go a little slower, savor every moment and leave a gentler wake.
One person living or dead you would love to hang out with for a day? What would you do?
Bob Marley. I would like to spend the day in the pristine hills of Jamaica, near the YS falls and just pick Bob’s brain, feel his energy and learn from his wisdom and experience.
What is one meal or food you could eat every day and not get tired of?
What is your favorite novel and what does it say about your mind?
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Every sentence, every paragraph speaks to me powerfully. What it says is that I’m not my mind, I am not my thoughts, because if I was and who is listening?
Who is your favorite artist and what does their work say about the way you think?
Flamenco dancer Juaquin Cortez is my favorite artist. What he expresses so gracefully and powerfully in movement is more important than anything I’ve ever thought and most mimics everything I’ve ever felt.
What is your favorite City?
Paris. I had the opportunity to live and work there for over a year when I was 19. I had some of the most magical and romantically unforgettable moments of my life.
Name a place you would like to visit?
What is the number one thing on your bucket list?
To share unadulterated, unfiltered, unbridled love and compassion with a woman… Deeper and more connected than ever before. Yeah. Mmm hmm.
What is your favorite Inspirational quote?
“When you commit to something fully magical guys will be here to assist you.” Joseph Campbell, the Heroes Journey
Do you think humans should be concerned about the planet?
Hell yes, but I think were preoccupied with the environment and we’ve lost sight and heart for human beings. If we were to consider for just a moment that every hungry person, every stinky, crazy homeless person is actually an angel here to test our level of compassion and generosity, we would change the world and naturally begin to save our environment.
Give money to the beggar on the street or tell them to “Get a job!” Which one are you?
I make a habit of stopping and attempting to connect with them emotionally. At some point, I’ll ask them if they’re hungry or what they really need, not caring if it’s A drink or a soft, safe place to rest and then do my best to make that happen for them.
What is the most adventurous thing you ever did?
When I look around I see it’s pretty adventurous that I engage every person I come in contact with on some level. That can be with iContact and a simple smile or actually stopping in inquiring about how they’re feeling at any given moment. That is been one of the most rewarding practices ever.
What is your passion?
If you could give any gift to any one person who and what would it be?
What is the coolest thing you ever won?
Trust and respect from my sons.
Which teacher had the biggest impact on you? Why?
Joseph Campbell the mythologist and philosopher for connecting the human experience and the similarities of all of our suffering and victories. We are all one, we are all the same we just have a different set of circumstances.
What would be your secret power or super talent?
To connect with people on a deeper emotional level and be a safe place for them.
What has been your favorite age so far?
What is something really cool about your parents’ past?
Their sense of commitment and respect for the sacred. Their devotion and unconditional love of each other for 62 years.
Are you afraid of dying? Why or why not?
No. Not at all. I hope to get better at a few things while I’m here, and love as much as I can but I’m looking forward to the next plane of spiritual existence. I’m looking forward to being free of this physical form, it’s frailties and limitations.
What is your favorite fruit? Why?
The Mango… It’s like sex.
What is your definition of sexy?
Open, honest and real.
If we are filled with an infinite amount of love, why do we say we fall out of love?
WOW. I love this question…Knowing that love is patient, kind and infinite, I think we begin to feel we’re falling out of love when we feel our time, energy and investment isn’t proving satisfactory. This is where we are faced with the fact that just maybe we were “in love” with an idea of love. I believe to really be in love and to love is to accept your partner with all their flaws, cracks, and shortcomings. The magic in my experience is that this brand of love will often free them to access a love more liberating and fulfilling than ever imagined.