Frances is my second Mom. When I became friends with her daughter, Blush, all those years ago she was busy being the rock, caregiver, provider for a family that went through their fair share of trials. Frances was married to Cotton, no not a code name, it was his nickname from childhood; he had the most beautiful white hair. I never knew him to be a well person that was before my time. I used to wonder what he was like before he was sick, because he was a happy man even when he was in pain, which was all the time in his case. Whenever I picture him in my mind’s eye he is always in a hospital bed or in his beloved recliner. He had a classic southern drawl and sweet soul, even when he felt his worst he still made sure you knew he was happy to see you. Cotton had cancer. Unfortunately, the treatment did more damage to his body than the cancer itself. He would spend the next 20 years in and out of hospitals from Charlotte to Raleigh to Charleston and several cities in between; tour of hospitals so to speak. Each and every time Cotton would visit a hospital he would touch the lives of the many doctors and nurses who met him. He had a way of asking for something and apologizing at the same time for bothering you. You couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
In August of 2005 Cotton finally lost his battle, it was time. I’m sure this is not absolutely true but how I remember it, or choose to remember it all. The last time I saw Cotton was at the Veterans hospital here in Charleston; just one of many hospitals where I spent time with him. He was there alone this time, Frances just couldn’t be with him all of time; after so many years you learn to do it alone. I took a day and snuck some of his favorite contra ban snacks and spent a few hours talking, reminiscing, and laughing. He was in pain but he never showed it and I never would have known except for the weariness that crept across his face as our time together came to an end.
During their nearly 40 year marriage Frances stood by Cotton’s side and cared for him, loved him and made unbelievable sacrifices during a time in her life when most are living a carefree life full of joy. Somehow though they found joy in what they DID have together. After Cotton passed away Frances had to learn to live again. I can not describe how much of her life was consumed with caring for Cotton, to have him gone and learn what to do with all of her free time must have been more difficult than anyone can imagine. But she was always a happy woman with a huge laugh that engulfs a room and makes everyone laugh too. It wasn’t going to be long until someone came along and breathed new life into her…His name is Ken.
It wasn’t more than six months after Cotton died that Ken came into her life, an old acquaintance that had recently lost his wife of many years as well. It was a whirlwind romance, which had her completely, giddy. After so many years enduring the trials of a marriage that tested her endurance the taste of new love made it that much sweeter. I’ll never forget Blush putting Frances on the phone with me; her bubbling-over with excitement and details I was not expecting. Frances is a God-fearing woman and Sunday school teacher; I’m talking a prim and proper southern woman. So in my best Ouiser from Steel Magnolias voice “a dirty mind is a terrible thing to waste”. The things she was telling me! Lord have mercy… It had been a looooonnnng time since she had enjoyed the touch of a man. The kind of intimacy that makes a women quiver. Ohhhh she was a quiverin. I felt nothing but pure happiness, heart-overflowing joy for her, she deserved it and all that new love can bring.
That is how I’m feeling today. Giddy, happy, peaceful, balanced and hell yeah I’m a quiverin too. There is absolutely zero doubt that I have found my Babe. I haven’t been so sure about anything in a long time. Doubt has left my body and mind and all I can feel is gratitude for every moment of pain, every tear I cried and every douche bag I’ve dated which lead me to the man who I knew immediately, he is the one. Crazy I know! I can’t believe I’m saying it but when you know, you know.
So have a case of the ‘Frances’…over sharing, overjoyed, over the moon.