photo of Frances and Joelle

Frances (left) sharing a joyful moment with Joelle.

Good afternoon.  My name is Joelle.  Frances and I were friends. As I sat to write some notes for today I struggled whether to remember with you the Frances who originally came into my life or the Frances I eventually said goodbye to. So rather than choose – I decided to tell you a bit about both. You see, they were very different people – and both had tremendous lessons to teach me. When I met Frances I thought she was gruff and opinionated and stubborn. I wasn’t entirely wrong. ☺ But I quickly learned that she was so much more. She was not only gruff but loving and tender. Not only opinionated but adaptable and brave. Not only stubborn but contagiously passionate and courageous. As time went on and a friendship took root, I also learned that she was not only a workhorse but playful. She was not only quiet but someone who wanted to be listened to. And I learned that she was both strong and fragile. Our friendship flourished around the time she realized that her body and spirit had carried her far enough – and she gave in to the reality that they needed to be tended to. Our friendship was the kind of friendship that didn’t allow hiding. It was the kind of friendship that invites the whole person and their whole story out into the lights. It was the kind of friendship that sees into you:
  • into your secrets
  • into your games
  • into your excuses
  • into your pain
  • into your strengths
  • into your gifts
  • and into your beauty.
Our friendship was built on trust and love. I so enjoyed watching her laugh with my kids, my husband, my parents, and our friends. I devoured her stories about her 3 kids and 5 grandchildren.  Whether they knew it or not, she dropped anything she was doing at the invitation to spend time with them.  Her pride in her children and their families was palpable. I relished her love for movies, the TV show Blue Bloods and sarcastic bantering. I appreciated her stories of what she did that day or who she met after work or of family – generations ago. I admired her commitment to this community’s improvement. I appreciated and shared her zest for learning – about life and faith. And I was honored as she introduced me to her doctors and nurses as her “best friend”.   Frances’ road of life was long – but not long enough. It was winding and bumpy and sometimes steep. But she kept on going – kept on showing up. I believe Frances would want me to share some of her more recent learnings with all of you so that you could benefit from her wealth of life experience – one last time. She learned that our darkest parts can be our teachers – in ways that our sweeter qualities never can. She learned to forgive herself, the importance of letting things go, and turning difficulties, toxicity and anger over to God. She learned that HOW we live matters.  That our choices shape our lives. She’d want you to know that if your story isn’t as meaningful or noteworthy or compelling as you want it to be – you can change it. She’d tell you to live honestly, freely, courageously – surrounded only by what brings joy, simplicity, peace and beauty. As I did when she was with us, I want to thank her. I was blessed to have been a friend, teacher and student of Frances’. I am so thankful that her life’s journey and mine intersected and I’m honored to have had her friendship in my life. I’m glad Frances has peace now that her life’s journey has wound its way home. Goodbye My Friend