I want to introduce you to someone. Her name is Frances. She is funny, intelligent and has a soul that's filled with live and laughter. She has been married twice and has buried both of her husbands much too young in life. But I'm getting ahead of myself....
She grew up in Illinois, one of many children. Her youngest brother died at the age of 7 after cutting his leg on a rusty spring. Medicine wasn't what it is today, and they couldn't cure the poison that seeped into his blood. Her mom never really recovered from that, but how could any mom, really?
Frances was a star student, and was much more progressive than most young women her age. She took care of her sisters and helped on her family farm as best as she could. She took a job as a secretary and was a whirlwind in the office. She jokes that she had them whipped into shape in no time.
After that she ended up in Washington, DC with a job in the CIA. That's where she met her first husband. He was brilliant, an aeronautical engineer who fell in love with her just as quickly as she fell in love with him. They had a son - born on her 40th birthday. Not too long after, her husband was killed in a helicopter crash near their home in Arizona.
So, she went back to school. She earned her degree in education so that she could teach while her son was in school and so she could get him free tuition in one of the most prestiges private schools in Arizona. She must have been a force to be reckoned with!
She met her second husband, a successful barber, and they married. Another marriage filled with love and companionship. But he died suddenly of a heart attack and she was once again alone.
Never one to feel sorry for herself, she busied herself with her community and neighbors.
I came to know Frances 3 years ago when I started working at the nursing home. She's spunky and fiery and the kindest woman you will ever meet. I've adopted her just as she's adopted me.
And so, today, I sit here at her bedside typing to you...telling you about this woman who is so dear to me....and she's laboring for breath, and close to returning home to God. Today, I am the family. Today, she is my loved one.
I'm reminded again of how important good work is. I'm reminded that kindness and love, no matter what the risks of loving may be, are truly what matters. Power, prestige, fancy houses, fancy cars, and all earthly things we work so hard to have play no part in our last moments on this earth.
And I'm reminded that love finds us in the strangest places and changes us forever. Love for friends, love for family, love for God. That's what matters.
Will Frances make it through the night? I don't know. But I will stay until I have to go and return in the morning. It's the least I can do. But it's an honor to do it.
UPDATE 7/30/10: Frances' health has declined even more today. I spent an hour with her this afternoon and she didn't stir even once. Please continue to keep her in your prayers.