January 2021 marks the tenth year of my mother's passing. Because she was such a huge part of my life, I've blogged about Franny numerous times. Ever the comedienne, she was always looking for an opportunity to make someone laugh—normally at her own expense. I count myself fortunate because my sisters and I shared a close relationship with her (Sidebar to my three sisters: Gals, we're not going to count some of those rocky teenage years!), it was incredibly tough for us to see this once-vibrant woman's health decline. Sadly, she was only seventy years old when we lost her.
I know a lot of folks don't like to talk about death and dying but the fact is, at some point, we're all going to be kissing planet earth goodbye. Some of us will have the benefit of being prepared for death and we'll be able to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us before we go. Others may not be so fortunate (I suppose in this context the word 'fortunate' is somewhat subjective), and death takes them suddenly.
I believe Franny knew her time here was coming to an end. She'd suffered a myriad of health issues and had been in and out of the hospital multiple times. About a month before she passed, Mom gave each of her daughters an envelope. Inside was a check for one-thousand dollars and a letter basically telling us how much she loved us and how fortunate she felt that God had gifted her with us. In the letter, Mom also tried to comfort us: I know this sounds sad and it is, she wrote.
Although Mom and Bob lived only a few miles away, Franny chose to mail this heartfelt letter to me. Upon receiving it, I immediately jumped in my car and drove to their house. "What in the heck is this?" I demanded, waving the letter and check in front of her. "Are you giving up? You can beat this cancer thing! This looks likes you're throwing in the towel!"
Franny shot a quick glance over to my Bob-dad. "I'm not giving up," she assured me. "We just thought it'd be a good thing to do. Besides, it's almost Christmas and we figured you girls could use the extra money."
"That's right," Bob agreed with a kind smile. "Just take the money, Monica. "We sent the same letter to your sisters."
"I know that because I've already talked with them," I replied, keeping my eyes on Franny. "And, we all think this is Mom's way of saying goodbye."
"I just wanted to let you know how much I love you," Franny said. "It's not a big deal. Please accept it for what it is."
Mom's letter to me and my sisters (December 2010)
I think about this conversation every time I look at this letter, knowing that, in her own way, she was preparing us for her demise.
Shortly after her death and still deeply grieving, I received a call from my friend David. I'd hiked a couple of miles out to a point near the lake and when my phone rang, I almost didn't answer it. Finally, concerned that it might be something important, I did.
"How are you doin'?" he asked.
"I'm okay," I lied.
"Look, you know I've lost both of my parents. I lost one slowly and the other pretty quickly. I can't tell you which is worse but I'm thinking about you," he told me. "It'll get better."
I've never forgotten that phone call. I don't know why, but in some way, it was healing for me. Don't get me wrong, I miss Franny (and now Bob) every single day but time does help make things better.
Sometimes when I think about Mom, I remember a remark she made to me one time when we were driving back from a relative's funeral. "I wonder how many people will come to my funeral," she said.
I thought about the modestly-attended service we'd just left. "Well, that's a little morbid," I replied. "But I suppose if you're lucky enough to enjoy a long life, you may outlive all your friends and relatives. So, the crowd might be a little sparse on that end. But don't worry. Your girls will be there and all our friends because everyone loves you. I'm sure we can fill the place up!"
Franny thought about this for a moment. "And, don't forget—I want to be cremated. I don't want everyone looking down at me in a coffin when I'm gone. I think that's creepy!"
I nodded. "Got it! Now, can we please change the subject? We're planning on having you around for a long, long time!"
Franny and me at a restaurant near North Pole, Alaska in the 80's. She loved to goof around!
As fate would have it, the day of Mom's memorial service was one of the coldest on record in our area. (We Texans don't do winter very well!) The temperature had dropped below freezing and driving on the icy roads made travel extremely treacherous.
"I can't believe this!" I complained to my husband James as we prepared to leave for the church. "A couple of days ago it was in the seventies! Now it looks like Antarctica out there! No one's going to want to risk driving on this ice. It's too dangerous. Mom would be so disappointed!"
Knowing that I'd been concerned about how many people would show up to pay their respects for my mother, James gave me a hug. "I know, but don't worry. I'm sure Franny would have understood. Besides, your mom's in Heaven now. Funerals are for the ones left behind."
When we arrived at the church, we were greeted by friends and family who had left their homes early to allow for the slower drive time. I was blown away as more and more people trickled into the chapel where the service was held. Although the room was not filled to capacity, the turnout was pretty impressive given the road conditions.
As I walked in with my family to take our places in the front two rows, I gazed over at the small box containing Mom's ashes. You see, Franny? I thought. You pulled a good crowd in spite of the ice and no one's going to be looking down at you, either! You touched so many people's lives!
In later years, we nicknamed Franny, Mama Llama. She always got a kick out of this!
Later that day as I was reading through the guest book, I wept again. More than tears of grief, these were also shed from the gratitude I felt over the expression of love shown by those who attended Franny's service.
And, James was so right about funerals being for the ones left behind. Pandemic and severe weather not withstanding, may we all strive to be the kind of people who are willing to sacrifice our time to love and support others. More than just filling up an otherwise empty building, attending a funeral is about providing comfort for hurting hearts. I know mine was soothed by the turnout we had for Franny on that frigid January day.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-4
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
My youngest sister Molly with Franny and some of her many grandchildren in 1995 (Coppell, TX) The grandkids all referred to her as Granny Franny.
Closet ClotheSure Week 49
This black and white animal print blouse by Michael Kors was given to me by my friend Deb. It's finding a new home as it is a little big on me.
I'll hang onto the black pencil skirt from White House Black Market. You can't tell in the photo but it has a cool diagonal button-up feature on the front and a nifty black belt. I like the fact that it is also high-waisted.
I purchased this cool blue dress in the fall of 2019 to wear to a ritzy event in Dallas. It's from New York & Company and features a sash-tie belt and faux leather bottom. It's a total keeper!
Sometimes I know exactly who'll be receiving the clothes that don't make me feel like a "ten" during Closet ClotheSure.
In this case it will be my sweet niece Holly who made the comment on FB that she wanted it! She'll love the pockets and the slick cut. The dress is from White House Black Market and it will look dynamite on her!
I paired this long, funky tunic top from White House Black Market with some black leggings from Ann Taylor for Thursday. I'm going to donate the top but keep the leggings since they're in good shape and they're such a go-to piece in the winter months. Here, I'm wearing them with tall, leather boots by Guess.
The Great Outdoors
Not "mulch" going on in the garden this time of year but I did want to share this cool photo we took along a neighbor's retaining wall. I love the fact that it's mid-January and these precious daisies are still reaching for the sun. It gives me hope that we're all going to be all right. We're going to survive these challenging times and come out the better for it!
With that said, I'll revert back to what I shared with everyone on my earlier blogs:
God is in control and hope is on the move!