God Speed, Granny Franny


God Speed Granny Franny

My mom called today to deliver the news that Grandma Fran passed away.

Her health had been failing; she recently went to a nursing home.

She had a good life.

When I turned 13, she became my Grandma.

She didn't like children and didn't hesitate to remind us, yet she took us in her heart and loved us.


My parents worked fairs and traveled much of my youth.

We moved to North Carolina when I was 13, and so began my relationship with this remarkable woman.

She was brilliant.

She worked for Taylor, and while there invented the mercury substitute for thermometers...no kidding.

Pretty brainy!

We took a tour of the Biltmore House and then went to visit Grandma Fran, who told us incredible stories of being raised by the Henry Ford family and playing with the Vanderbilt child.

She was hiding in the Halloween Room, with Gloria Vanderbilt, in a game of hide-n-go-seek.

It was mesmerizing, and I never grew tired of hearing her story

She drove a powder blue Camaro.

I know, totally cool.

I agree.

One weekend she was responsible for us, we...my two sisters and brother, piled into her Camaro and wound our way through the mountains.

My sister screamed, "STOP!" and Grandma Fran slammed on the brakes...coming to a near-immediate stop.

"Good Heaven's, Child! Whatever is the matter?" she said, nearly losing her breath.

"You almost hit that squirrel." was my sister's answer.

"I appreciate your concern for the wild critters. I really do, and while I agree his life is important, you simply cannot...cannot demand we stop for every critter crossing the road. It just isn't safe for any of us." She explained.

That winding road led the way to a petting zoo.

There, Grandma Fran explained llamas to us.

We were her pupils, and she was our teacher.

She knew a great deal about them, including that when they feel threatened, they spit.

I guess she wanted to illustrate that fact because, as we entered the petting area, a wooly white llama approached Grandma Fran and began chasing her through the fenced area, spitting at her.

At first, we were stunned.

We'd never seen anything quite like this.

Then we gave way to laughter while the petting zoo employees chased the llama chasing Grandma Fran.

When the chase ceased, Grandma Fran stood before us, out of breath with hair matted with llama spit and standing on end.

The first time we spent the night at Grandma Fran's, she picked us up from home after school.

Wouldn't you know it was the very day we all came home with notes stating that our school had lice (we, to this day, blame this on my baby sister who played in the dirt at recess head to head with her little friends)?

Poor Grandma Fran...a dislike for children in general, and yet the woman washed our hair with that lice shampoo and then with the patience of a saint combed through my sister and my hair...thick and down to our waists...with that tiny comb.

She didn't complain.

Not a bit.

On a journey from Asheville home, just Grandma Fran and me, in the powdered blue Camaro, she talked about the Lindenberg baby.

The subject changed in the middle, and I remember saying, "So? Whatever happened to the Lindenberg baby?"

She was stunned that I didn't know a thing about this and set forth in getting my facts straight.

She was an amazing woman...cooking four starving children her delicious southern fried chicken, a pain-staking process as she was accustomed to cooking for two.

So with grumbling bellies, our mouths watered as one piece at a time she cooked the chicken.

It was worth the wait, but we were happy to have a mom who understood you could cook for an entire family all at once...it seemed much faster.

Her love of rocks was intoxicating.

Specimens of raw sapphires and emeralds lined her windows..on occasion; she would select one and take us to the garage where she would cut it, polish it and leave it for us to be amazed.

Sadly, for those of us still here, this wonderful, brilliant, and very loved woman has parted with her earthly ties.

She will be missed and treasured.

God Speed, Grandma Fran....peace, and comfort to those who love you!


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