Everybody needs an Auntie Fran.
My mom met her the week she and my dad returned from their honeymoon. Francine was visiting the young adult Sunday school class for the first time when the newlyweds were introduced. My dad left for the Korean War a few days later. My mom and Francine became the dearest of friends.
They weren't the kind that did everything together, but they were always there for each other no matter what. Mom even introduced Francine and her eventual husband (yes, she was in their wedding!).
When the war was over, my mom and Francine took turns having babies. Francine had three boys and three girls. Mom came in a close second with four boys before I showed up.
When my brother's 10th birthday was a bust, Mom called her faithful friend, who arrived with all six kids. She saved the party.
During the two years we lived in Maine, she brought her girls to stay for a few weeks. It was like an extended set of siblings without the rivalry.
I don't remember when I started calling her Auntie Fran. She was too familiar to call her Mrs. and I had too much respect for her to call her by her first name. So the nickname stuck.
Through the years, we shared major life events but didn't live close enough for the everyday. Still, we always knew we were there for each other.
At the age of 19, my friend was in a coma for several weeks. I stayed at Auntie Fran's home, which was a short distance from the hospital. It was more than shelter she offered me; it was the tremendous amount of support I needed, too.
To save money for my wedding, I lived at Auntie Fran's house for nine months. She helped me put together the details of my big day. With my mom almost 600 miles away, Aunt Francine was the one who was there to help me pick out a dress.
Three weeks before my wedding, my brother passed away. Once again, Auntie Fran was a support to my mom - and a godsend to us all.
Four years ago, we lost my mom to a long-term illness. Auntie Fran was there to hold me in the lobby of the church before her service.
The morning of my daughter's wedding, I called her. We both cried over missing my mom. She would have loved being there for Rachel's big day, we agreed.
Last week, I called to let her know we would be coming to town on our next vacation, and we talked for an hour. We caught up on life, spoke of my mom, discussed my dad and laughed about life.
When I got off the phone, I posted on Facebook, “I just spent close to an hour talking on the phone with my Auntie Fran. Everyone needs an Auntie Fran.”
An old high school friend responded, “I am sure you are - or will be - many people's 'Auntie Fran.'”
What an amazing compliment. Even better, what a beautiful aspiration. To pass on to others the kindness we've been shown. To love others the way we want to be loved. A listening ear, a wise word and the beauty of relationship.
We all need an Auntie Fran. Even better, what would it be like if we all purposed to be an Auntie Fran to the next generation?
Through the years, we shared major life events but didn\'t live close enough for the everyday. Still, we always knew we were there for each other.