Last week, my Mom and I were reminiscing about cousin Francis. He was special to both of us, and we have many fond memories of him. My Mother and Francis grew up together in Mobile as children. They were like best friends. They attended the same schools from elementary through high school. Francis worked at the Seafood business that Our family owned. He would go with my Mom to pick up the fresh seafood from the Mobile Bay and bring it to the restaurant to sell. Francis also delivered groceries for the business. Francis was my father’s best man at my parent’s wedding.
I knew Francis while I was growing up as a child. He was always the one that loved to have fun and cooked some of the best gumbo around! The gumbo had big pieces of crab, shrimp, sausage and rice with seafood seasoning. Unfortunately, no recipe on this one folks! Francis combined his fantastic food with drinks and dancing at his parties. In Chicago, we called them “house parties”. My sisters and I had a house party one night, and one night only. Perhaps I will share that story in a future post.
Francis never attended college. When we lived in Chicago, my brother had a real estate business, and he helped out by doing cleaning and administrative work.
Francis married once in his later years. He thought he was marrying the love of his life. The wedding was very extravagant and expensive. Once married, his new wife stopped cooking and cleaning. Francis had to do it all. The marriage lasted less than a month. The new wife, soon to be ex-wife, left with everything Francis owned! It can happen to anyone. This time it happened to our family and friend, Francis.
After my Mother moved to Virginia to live with us, Francis called to say hello. He was in the hospital at the time, and the doctor’s visit interrupted the phone call.
Francis said, “Alice let me call you right back because the doctor is here.”
Alice responded, “Ok, call me later.”
We never heard from Francis again. He died shortly after the conversation. The doctors were treating him for cancer. As an aside, cancer ran in Francis family. Two brothers, sister and mother all died from cancer. Today there is a higher survival rate for cancer patients because the treatment can be tailored based on genetics and type of cancer. Again, health histories are invaluable.
The more my Mother and I talked about Francis, the more I realized Francis was not a cousin. In fact, Francis was not related to our family at all. Sometimes people are so close to each other they feel like family. It happens!
Between The Dashes