My friend Kevin called me last week and he never calls, so as soon as I saw his number I knew it couldn’t be good. I met Kevin about 15 years ago when I accepted the fire chief position in Stoughton, MA. The night I met Kevin he was giving me a hard time about something funny. Little did he know that I was going to be his mother’s new boss. Fran became a huge help to me as I tried to fit into the community. She was always there with advice about who to lookout for and who to know. She cared deeply about “her men” on the fire department and she wanted to make sure that they were going to be taken care of. Fran really protected and guided me like a second mother. She was part of my son’s first birthday party and I became part of her family becoming friends with Kevin, attending his sister’s wedding, sharing in the family’s ups and the downs and learning all of the stories. Fran took me to Nantucket the day before I moved away because I never made it to her “favorite place”; we kept the tradition of throwing a penny in the bay as we left to ensure our return.

She always referred to herself as Mum and when I moved to Arizona I became her Sunny. Fran was old enough to retire when I was out there but she loved the Town; so much so she never took sick days. I remember her asking for a few days off once but she didn’t share where she was headed. When she came back on Wednesday I asked her how her trip was and told me that she had a little surgery. Surprised by her answer, I pressed and she told me “I had a little breast cancer and some lymph nodes removed”. She talked about the whole things though she just had a tooth pulled! The surgery was Monday and this was Wednesday. She told the doctor and me that she was too busy to be sick. Years later she was diagnosed with colon cancer in March. She told the doctor that she had a standing trip to Nantucket each September and that she was not cancelling her reservations. He suggested otherwise and performed a procedure quickly as she directed. She made the trip that year and each year for the next ten years. Fran was not only an inspiration but also an amazing woman. Kevin and his family lost their mother, I lost my Mum but heaven gained another angel this week.

6But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  1 Timothy 6:6-7

Fran was very content with everything she had and everything she did. She spoke honestly and that was hard for some. Fran never wanted more than she was entitled to and worked even into her 80’s. People had to earn her respect but once they had it, she would fight for them. She cared about others and was always giving of herself. This verse from Timothy reminds me about the story of the DASH whose premise is: what have you done with the time represented by the dash between the year you were born and the year you die. We bring nothing into this world and we take nothing out; it’s what we do with our time that counts. God has given us the tools to do great things, we just need to slow down and learn the keys to using them. The directions are in the bible verses and Jesus lived as an example for us but God also gives us examples like Fran in our lives today. Slow down to see them and be content with the things in your life; it ends suddenly. We will never know the impact we will have on others and we all have a DASH; fill it with contentment, love, kindness and worship to God who made it all possible.