Frankie France was one of the “HCOG Volunteer Hall of Fame” members, at least in my book. Sister France was a member of Homestead Church of God (now Life Pointe) before my dad moved to Homestead to become the pastor in the summer of 1986. She was about 5 feet tall, and she had gray hair, and she was… hmm, how do you say… spunky! Our first week in Homestead here at the church, Frankie told my dad that she was going to run him off. She declared that she was the meanest! Just five minutes or so hanging out with her and you knew that was not true!
She had a fiercely independent “can-do” style about her that is pretty much non-existent these days. That was probably because she grew up Kentucky in without electricity, without running water in her house, and she had to ride for miles on a horse every day just to get to school. My dad called her “The Kentucky Wonder”. Before retiring, she managed a restaurant, so she knew lots of tricks about consolidating several small amounts of condiments into one bottle, and how to make candy, and how to fix large quantities of food for church dinners. She always had an angle at how to do stuff. As she was getting up in years, she was determined to be at church and to get around on her own in her car as long as she physically could.
As far as her volunteer work, as a classroom monitor she spent every school day at Pathway Christian School, which was a ministry of our church, helping the little ones learn to read and keeping the rowdy teenage boys (who were of course unlike me) in line. Every day she would collect coupons from boxes, newspapers, mail-outs, and store papers to cut them out and and redeem them for a fraction of a penny each to the company of origin to donate some money to the Florida Boy’s Ranch. She was always first in line to donate some canned goods for food drives even though she was on a very meager fixed income. Anytime the church had an activity that required workers, she was there to clean up, or cook, or do her part and more to help with the work day.
One of the most endearing characteristics she had was her spunky attitude and sense of humor. I remember one time I was leaning back in my chair at school talking to one of my neighbors when Sister France came up behind me and popped me on the head with a booklet. She laughed and told me to get back to work. But Sister France always had my back. For years after we joked about her popping me in the head with the booklet, even when she was in a retirement home. She never did really give me a hard time, although she would joke a lot about giving me a tough time. Travis and I adopted her as our Homestead granny and she adopted us back. I guarantee you this; if anyone messed with my dad, they would have to go through Frankie France before they got to him. She was loyal as loyal could be. And she always had a good joke or a story.
Due to a condition that caused her vision to deteriorate, Sister France eventually had to give up driving at night, then altogether. Soon, she was no longer able to read her bible. After a few years, she was totally blind and unable to take care of herself. I regret to this day that I didn’t visit her more than I did, because every single time I went to see her in her little room at her retirement home, she would get me to laugh and joke, and we would have such a good time. And I loved to go see her.
For years, she was an integral part of the church, tithing faithfully though she was on a very limited fixed income, and providing ladies’ meetings with some of the best jokes and nuggets of wisdom. She exemplified the attitude that we should all have, loyal to God, her church, her pastor, and her friends, and loving God and man with reckless abandon. About four years ago, Frankie France went on to meet Jesus. I want everyone to remember this awesome woman who meant so much to my church, my family, and me. I challenge each of you who read this and myself to carry on the legacy of Frankie France with faithful giving, volunteering, loyalty, dedication, and cheerfulness. One day, I will see her in Heaven.