Francine the Fearless

She was brave.  Frontier-brave.  Blind to fear – she left that to me, because why not?   She might as well, since I’d be fearful and doubting whether she left it to me or she didn’t.  I used to think she was brave to trust in me, but she was really trusting that the Lord would keep us safe.  That makes more sense.

She would have followed me anywhere, across savage and dangerous landscapes, and did, without complaint.  She skydived and zip-lined and held on tight while we rode all over creation on a Kawasaki 500, and later, a Harley Sportster.

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9/26/1981 – before the square, steerable chutes

Out of boredom, shortly after we were married, we quit our jobs and went out west.  We saw the Grand Canyon and the Pacific Northwest.  In the fall we returned and did what we thought was the scariest thing, which was to settle down and start a family.  Starting a family was never anything she feared.  She wasn’t one to worry, as I said, that was what I considered my job.  I guess it was her job to keep me from worrying too much.  Anyway, she knew I’d come around eventually to the idea of having children.

I liked to think it was me doing the brave thing; exploring, taking risks with our time and resources and acting nonchalant in the face of danger.  But it was always Fate pushing me sideways, turning me towards that place where we needed to be for the next thing to happen.  It’s easier to see in retrospect that I was just taking the path of least resistance by not fighting against those turnings.

Francine was there, understanding it somehow.  Always by my side.  My faithful, fearless, patient friend.  Even now.

 

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She only told me she was afraid once in our entire life together.

We had left the doctor.  He could do no more for her.

We were walking, holding hands. 

She turned to me and said, Craig, I’m afraid.

It was the first time I ever heard those words come from her.

It was startling and profound.  I had to stop and look in her eyes.

Because we suddenly had to believe it, and there was nothing I could do.

 


 

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