It’s Wednesday night, and of course it’s time for our weekly check in. If you’ve been keeping up with the latest, then you know that this past weekend, our site, and our group of friends lost someone dear to us, Fran. I wrote about her the other day, but yes, she’ll be a part of this weeks update too!
In the past week, we have sort of been on standby, waiting to hear news about our friend Fran. I had gotten a lot of messages in the past two weeks asking about her, but out of respect for her family, we were trying to not give out too many details. Truthfully, we didn’t know all of what was happening, but we knew it wasn’t good. Once we heard from her daughters that things weren’t going well, we were just broken, and we know once word hit, others would be too. Before figuring out the best way to handle telling other people, we had to first start in our own home. Friday after school, we sat the boys down and explained that Fran had been very sick, and her family didn’t think she was going to pull through. They were told that we were still praying for a miracle, but we wanted them to know just in case we got bad news. Both of them were so, so quiet. Just shock. How do you make kids understand that someone they love so much, is just so sick? It’s not easy. We answered their questions as best we could, then decided to get them out of the house for a few hours to get their minds off of things. We went over to Hollywood Studios for a few hours, just to let them have a little bit of fun, but our hearts were still heavy. Fran was still on our minds. I mean, how could she not be? When we walked past a certain area by the Chinese Theater, Aidan said, “that’s where we sat with Frannie to watch the Christmas show.” She’s everywhere.
On Saturday, just like every morning for the past two weeks, we woke up on pins and needles, checking our messages and such to hear what was going on. Waiting is hard, especially when you are far away and feel helpless. Friends of ours were going to the Magic Kingdom, so we went out for a little bit, but of course I was constantly checking my phone. It was a beautiful afternoon at our happy place, but we weren’t there very long. We got off the People Mover, and I grabbed my phone and saw the news. Our Frannie had passed. You know, as much as you prepare yourself for something like this, when it actually happens it really does hit like a ton of bricks. Tears and hugs, right there, I’m glad we weren’t alone. My boys…. their faces. They just don’t understand any of this because they just saw Fran before Christmas, and she was ok. Cancer is an evil, evil beast. Fran told me she was trying to get over this hump, so she could come back to see “her Castle” as she was supposed to be here in early January. So, we stopped by her Castle, said a prayer for her, and we left. I knew that I had things to attend to. We promised her family that we’d handle things on the Main Streeter side, and that’s what we did. It’s still so hard to understand how bad things can happen to good people. Fran was good people. Just the best… let me tell you about her.
Fran was a tiny lady, who actually was larger than life. Her personality was huge. She had a true love for Disney, it was her favorite place to be. Fran’s husband and three daughters were her entire world, she was always talking about how proud of them she was. As for us….. she was TMSM’s head cheerleader. Every day, and I mean EVERY day, Fran posted in our FB group and on our main FB wall, saying good morning to everyone, and reminding them to support TMSM that day. I never asked her to do that, she just did because she loved us. For me personally….. everything I posted. Everything I wrote. There was Fran. It didn’t matter if I wrote a blog, or posted a photo of my dog, she had something to say. Truthfully, Fran was more supportive of me that most of my actual family members (besides my parents). So blood for sure didn’t matter in this case. Each week when I published my Florida Living blogs, she was always one of the first to comment. I can’t tell you how much I miss her comments and heart stickers. She loved my sons fiercely, and they loved her back. Whenever Fran was coming to town, they were always so excited to see her. When Fran got sick again, and had to wear her back brace, they were afraid they’d hurt her from hugging her so much, but she hugged them even harder. She told me she loved me every single day. Last year when I found out I was going to be a mom again, I got the chance to tell her in person, right in front of her Castle, by Walt and Mickey. She teared up, rubbed my baby bump and asked if she could be “Grandma Fran” to this newest little one. She is one of the very few people who got to see me like that. A month later when we lost the baby, Fran was so supportive. She cried with us, wanted to actually come down here and help out. Of course I wouldn’t let her, but it was the idea that she cared so much. When it came to our TMSM Meet Ups, she was always there. Fran always wore a TMSM button in the parks, she was like a celebrity to those in our Disney Ohana who got to meet her at Disney. It’s because she was such a strong presence, every single day. I can’t imagine how our get togethers will be without her, it won’t be the same. She was so funny too. She loved Disney, but hated, and I mean hated, the Enchanted Tiki Room and Carousel of Progress, and had no problem telling you so in her awesome New York accent…. “Oh my gawwwd, I haaaate the Tiki Room… I’d rather watch paint dryyyyy.” I swear to you, every time we’re in the Magic Kingdom in Adventureland, one or both of my kids say that in her voice….. it’s just so funny. In addition to loving her Castle, she loved ice cream. I mean, LOVED ice cream. You could throw cupcakes in there too, and she did.
When Fran was here for the meet up in November, she actually stayed a lot longer than just that weekend. We were lucky enough to get to spend extra time with her. Time that I’m really thankful for now. Two days before she went back to New York, we picked her up at her resort, and spent the entire day with just her. We had lunch, walked around Disney Springs, she wanted dessert of course, so we went to Sprinkles and she got two scoops of ice cream. It’s odd, because on that visit she told us so many things. She talked about things from her childhood, about her family, and things we never knew about. It was a wonderful day. Fran thought she was doing much better, and she sure looked better, but in my heart I always worried. Before leaving her, I always looked to her for reassurance. She was the one going through health issues, but she still was a comfort for other people. Yes, that’s Fran, amazing. She said she loved us, we were family to her, and we’d see her in a few weeks, right after the New Year. We gave her hugs and and told her we loved her too, and said, see you soon. That was the last time I saw her, at Saratoga Springs in her room. My gut was bothering me, a nagging feeling, telling me to enjoy our time with her for some reason, and I’m glad I listened to that. We had such a great day, it ended up being a blessing that we had that time.
So now, here we are, trying to find a new normal, not having our Frannie in our everyday life. Everyone in our group, TMSM Fan Nation, misses her. Very, very much. Her family has to find a way to get by too, and I can’t even imagine their grief. This happened so fast, and her family has so much to cope with. My heart really breaks for them. I wish there was a way to make this easier on everyone who is heartbroken over Fran. Her absence is felt, it’s a very empty feeling, if that makes sense. But…. I want to put a positive spin on this if possible. Fran was a shining light. Fran made people happy, took time out of her day to show others that she cares, was the go to person for so many when they needed to talk or just wanted a laugh. How lucky are we, that we had her in our lives? She told me before that because of TMSM, she had renewed sense of fighting when it came to cancer, and she used to thank me all the time for what we do. Well, I hate to correct her, but it’s ME and US who need to thank HER. She gave me encouragement when I needed it, supported me, made me feel like my family and I mattered. To others in our group, she was our ray of sunshine, every single day. Fran was special to all who were blessed enough to come in contact with her. I have said it so many times lately…. everyone, and I mean EVERYONE loved Fran. I thank God for letting us be part of her life, even if it wasn’t for long enough. She is loved, and she is missed. Our TMSM cheerleader can NEVER be replaced, and I’ve learned so much from her. People have asked if we should do something to honor her, something to do with Castles and Ice Cream, and I think that’s appropriate. Once people have time to come to terms with this tragedy, we’ll do something for her for sure. We also will do a tribute for Fran in our next magazine. She deserves more than I could ever give her, but we shall try our best.
If I’ve learned anything from this experience, is that life is fleeting and tomorrow is never promised. Value those you love, and be sure to tell them what they mean. That’s one thing I hope Fran knew. I hope she knows that I’m thankful for all she’s done for me. I hope she knows that my family and I love her. I hope she knows how much of an impact she’s had on our TMSM family and how much they love and miss her too. When I say prayers for her, I ask God to tell her that for me, just in case. Fran may be not with us physically, but she will always be in our hearts. I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to know her. We all love you Frannie.
That’s it for this week everyone. Thank you for keeping up with us every week, it’s appreciated. Till next week…. do something kind for someone, extend a compliment, smile or hug to a friend, and think of Fran. That’s how she’d want it. To Fran’s family ~ Rich, Michelle, Christina and Gina…. sending you love and prayers always. ~M