Nine years ago this month I lost a very close friend to cancer. Her name was FrAn.
I met Fran when I was in jr. high. She moved to my small town of 300 people with her husband, BoB, who was our K-12 school’s superintendent. They immediately became a part of our community and school. Fran LoVeD people, music and God. Actually, Fran just loved LiFe. I have never met someone who was more PoSiTiVe and UpBeAt than Fran.
Due to budget cuts my senior year of high school, our music program was cut. Fran stepped in and VoLuNtEeReD to be our vocal teacher. She took our vocal class to music contest where we won 1+’s – the highest score possible, not because we were incredible singers, but because we worked hard and were motivated to perform to the best of our ability for Fran. Her love for music had RuBbEd Off on us.
The year I graduated from high school in South Dakota, Fran and her husband retired to a little resort island called “HoLiDaY IsLaNd” right outside of Eureka Springs, AK. I was thrilled as my college plans were to attend college in Tulsa, OK, just 3 hours from Fran’s new home. Bob and Fran extended the invitation for me to come visit them and I did so regularly. In the course of 10 years I also took many of my FriEnDs along who, after a weekend with Bob and Fran, said they felt like they had known them all their life. That was just the way they made you FeeL.
Fran (and Bob) treated us like her own daughters. She bought us “SwEeT PillS” a.k.a. pastries, made us delicious meals, let us drive their golf cart to the pool (a block away), swam with us, rented and watched chic flicks with us, washed our clothes, and had good heart-to-heart “girl talks” with us. Sleeping-in was the norm and when we finally rose out of our room we were greeted with Fran saying, “GoOd MoRniNg MeRrY SuNsHiNe!” a phrase I now use every morning when my girls come down the stairs.
Although Fran had been diagnosed with cancer, maybe before I was even in high school, she had always been so positive and proactive in treating her disease, I never worried about it. She always seemed to be the picture of HeAlTh.
However, in 2001, when Bob passed away from prostate cancer I begin to notice she wasn’t quite the same.
On Friday of Memorial Day Weekend 2002, I received a call from Fran saying, the doctor’s had told her there was nothing more they could do. She knew that she was in her final days and was at PeAcE. A few days later I went to visit her to say “good-bye”. Less than two months later, I went to say my final “Good-Bye”.
Fran was an InSpiRing WoMaN. She touched the lives of those who knew her.
I hope I can make an ImPaCt on others like Fran made on me.