Monday, December 17, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Childhood Icon

Fran, me and my teddy bear

Saturday was the memorial service for a very dear and treasured family friend. 

My core family group was there. Fran became my mom’s first friend when she moved to ‘the city’ and married my dad. My dad had bought the little house across the street from her. We lived there until my parents bought the house in Coon Rapids, where my brother and sister were born. The little house in Fridley burned down several years back. 
Our 'Little house in Fridley'

But Fran and her husband still lived in their white house across the street. 

Fran led a simple life, but was by no means a simple woman! She kept an impeccable house, everything was picked up, clean and polished. She always did what she said she was going to do and she expected the same of others. She was full of questions and genuinely interested in the responses.  She loved Elvis’s music, soap operas and made Christmas decorations with yarn and plastic canvas. She called it ‘kin-nittling’.  These are the things I remember of Fran. 

She ALWAYS had a smile, except I remember a few times, when staying at her house and we were getting a stern talking to about something we had done that we were told not to do or say.  We didn’t get into trouble much. 

When I was a kid, I spent a great deal of time at Fran’s house, even after we moved from the ‘little house in Fridley’.  

We went there before dentist appointments, vacation bible school, after church. Every Christmas Eve, we went to Fran’s house before church. We exchanged gifts with the family, had Christmas dinner, went to church and then home (Santa came to our house while we were at church, he had to get to some people early as, the whole world is pretty big!) 

Together, our families went on annual outing to Como Park Zoo for a picnic and to watch the animals. 

Como Park Conservatory late '60's early 70's

Every friday night was groceries and gas night, dad would drive into Fridley to get groceries and put gas in the car, sometimes, we would stop in and visit Fran and her family. Fran has two daughters, both the same ages as myself and my sister. 

When I was in fifth grade, I started confirmation classes, at our church in Fridley. Every tuesday evening my mom went to Fran’s house while we were in catichism. For nine years every tuesday, my mom visited with Fran. Even though my parents had moved from Coon Rapids twenty years ago, my mom still visited with Fran on the telephone and exchanged notes through the mail, I believe she said they still talked every tuesday. 

My mom has never had a cross thing to say or frustrating disagreement with Fran. Both women are strong enough in their beleifs and respect each other and their friendship to let something silly get in the way of that. 

When my mom told me Fran was to have lung surgery due to her cancer, I went to see her, shortly after I found out. We chit chatted quickly, as she was about to leave for church. Then in the moments before I left, I went to her and we embraced, with tears in our eyes, I said, “ I love you and I am so sorry you are experiencing this! You mean a great deal to me.” She smiled and said, “I love you too and you mean a lot to me, too.” 

I didn't see Fran after that.  It feels to me, that I told her everything I needed to and I am confident that she knew. But in case there is any doubt...

 “Fran, thank you for being in my life, especially as a child, befriending my family and being there. Thank you for supporting the ideas that my parents had to create a life for themselves and my family.  Thank you for dog sitting our dog, providing consistent friendship and welcoming my family into your home, at a moments notice. Your generosity and well wishes did not go unnoticed. You have always held a special place in my heart, even when I didn’t see you, so there is no reason for that to change. However I am able to be of support and comfort those you leave behind, know that I will. 

Even though Fran has passed from living in her white house in Fridley, who she is lives in my heart and the values that she embodied are an example for me to look to for strength. 

I will miss you, 
Shelly Lynn


  1. What a fine tribute to your neighbor and friend, Shelly. And such evocative snapshots. Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

  2. Thank you. Loss is such a difficult thing and when it is shared, it makes it more bearable. Unfortunately, it has been an emotional week, for myself and many others, as we all move forward through our grief.


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