Today it will have been 2 years since she passed away.
I met Frances some 13 years ago on the playground of the
nursery school that our children went to.
Lots of other Mums seemed to know each other and they
were in their impenetrable cliques, chattering amongst themselves.
Truthfully, I don't know if Frances spoke first or if I did,
but I like to think our first words were telepathic.
As we looked at each other, then at these other mums,
in our minds we said "Why do these people gossip so loudly"
It made us laugh at the way they all chattered and clucked away
like geese or chickens, we found it so funny...
Frances had two older children, David and Karina,
and two younger children, Ryan and Charlie
At that time Ryan was my Charlotte's age (about 3 and a half)
and Charlie was My Jim's age (about 1 and a half).
When they were in school they were in the same classes.
To this day Ryan and Charlotte hang out at school and are good friends,
Charlie and Jim have moved through their school lives together as well.
This beautiful photo is of Frances with her baby son Ryan.
Through many trials and tribulations, Frances carried on for the one true thing in her heart that she held so dear, her family. She loved her family so much and always spoke of them, almost every conversation was centered around her love for them all. She would do anything humanly possible for them, and she did. She could always see a funny side to most things, things that would make your hair curl, there was always a joke in there somewhere, no matter what she had to face..
Truly, I thought she was the most amazing person I'd ever met. Such a strong and beautiful person who I had the privilege of calling my friend.
I have, through my life, had only a handful of good friends, one's that the conversation could pick up where it left off a few months ago. I might not have crossed paths with Frances for a few weeks at a time, we both had busy lives, children to bring up on our own and so sometimes we would miss each other on the way home. Then the next time we met our timing would be better and we'd talk all the way home about anything and everything...
We would walk to and from school together, we would talk all the way home, the children would giggle and run along together. By the time we stopped to say goodbye, we had sorted the world out..
Charlie and Jim would want to kiss each other goodbye, we swore we would tell them one day when they were older, preferably in a pub infront of their friends, that this is what they used to do...Ryan and Charlotte would giggle and run about like mad things, in and out of some old ladies garden and she used to bang on the window. By then Ryan had run off and Charlotte was left to take the blame.
We used to pretend the children were not ours... We couldn't stop laughing..
Walking down the hill one day pushing the buggies, we were face on into the freezing wind, it was sleeting and bitterly cold. We actually felt our foreheads freeze and even though our faces were numb with cold we laughed at how painful it was.
We would always refer to a cold day as,"not as cold as the day our foreheads froze"
It was a mark in time...
Frances discovered she had Cancer. With such dignity and shear strength and determination, she battled it and at that point won.
Frances had gone through such a great deal, She had begun to recover and regain her strength. Within time Frances had started working at our children's school, although by now Ryan, Charlie, Charlotte and Jim were at senior school. Sam and Katie were now at the junior school and Frances was the friendly face at the gate.
She had her own names for my children, Charlie Bear, Jimbob,
Spam and Katie-do-dah. They all thought she was wonderful.....
Frances worked hard and provided for her family through some really difficult times. Her goal was simply to look after her own, to do the best she could, and she did.
One thing that stood out above all else, was her ability to put others before herself. She was a listening ear, with kind words of comfort for others. Frances had a self sacrificing nature, this was simply her personality and certainly not for show.
I did not always meet her on the way to school now, she had to be at work earlier,to be there before the school day started. But she was always on the "good-bye gate" where the children said good-bye to Mum's and Dad's. If we could, we would have a speedy conversation and a smile.
On June 12th 2008 My Dad had suddenly past away, I spoke to Frances at the "good-bye gate" the next morning, I told her that he had died the day before.
She was very sad for me, we talked about how she had only just seen him with myself the other day, we were picking up my Jim and her Charlie from the Paris school trip. Again with her words of kindness and comfort she was able to bring a smile to my face at such a difficult time.
We only walked home a few more times after that and the summer holidays came around and were over before you knew it. Frances knew she had Cancer again and was now not at work, I looked for her everyday and kept thinking what bad timing I had and that I had missed her again.
Some time later, I walked home after taking Katie to school,
and by chance met our friend Alison. Alison worked in school with Frances
and knew us both as she, like us, was a playground Mum. She asked me if
I had heard anything about Frances, I knew at that moment that she was gone.
Her family are amazing, Frances had shown by her very nature how to be a family, how to do the right thing, how to stick together no matter what life throws at you,how to look life in the eye and say "bring it on". Her children and close family have done just that. They have stepped up to the mark, they have rallied round,
they have stuck together. She would be so proud of them all.
She has the most amazing children.
Every day when I take Katie to school, I look for her, I can't help it.
I'm looking for her in a crowd of faces but I know she is not there.
She touched my life and has left her hand print on my heart.
I will always be grateful for the kindness she showed me,
for the laughter we shared and for her kind face I still see when
I close my eyes.
I am blessed because, for a short while, I had the chance
to know Frances and call her my friend.
December 22nd 1963 ~~~ February 28th 2009