“I’m not getting any younger and I don’t accept foul language on my shift,” barked Fran. My first impression of Frances McNicol’s wasn’t impressive as the first words out of her mouth. The moment I first laid eyes on her, I thought she was going to be dead by the end of our shift. As she walked into the building, she shuffled along slowly with her right leg dragging behind her. By the time she got to the time clock, she was out of breath, and her face was flushed. I couldn’t believe that she was my charge nurse.
Upon closer inspection, I noticed that her hands were mangled from arthritis and how agonizing it must have felt to even hold a pencil. The pain that it must cause her to start an IV and if the patient was in excruciating pain as well. Her hair was perfect though, not a single hair out of place, and her make-up was flawless. My first thought was that she must have permanent makeup and somebody that fixes her hair before she comes into work because there was no way that she would have been able to hold a brush for that long without being in pain. I worked with Fran that night and listened to her speak about her life.
She was such a fascinating person and had such interesting stories. I would laugh at the way she would talk to the detention officers that shared the same shift and would grace us with their presence. To my surprise she lived alone. She was in her 70’s and was still married to her husband and had twins. Her husband lived in Washington because he hated the heat, and she lived in Arizona because she hated the rain. She lived overseas while her husband worked as an engineer. One night at work, I was in the boss’ office doing some filing that day shift left for night shift to finish, and I spotted a piece of paper with my name on it. Fran, look that has my name on it,” I called to her.
“What?! That isn’t very smart is it,” Fran answered, tearing the paper off the cork-board. “What are you going to do? ” I was stunned at what she was doing. “It just has your name on it, no big deal,” she replied nonchalantly. That piece of paper meant a lot actually. The next week I got called into the office before my shift ended that night. The paper with my name wasn’t written by the boss, it was actually written by another nurse on the opposite rotation as me. I had to fill in and work overtime on that shift sometimes.
The nurse was complaining that I didn’t do my work completely and often times left the clinic for hours at a time. I wasn’t given a chance to defend myself, I was automatically placed on three months probation. I was in tears as I left the clinic that day. Much to my surprise, Fran was waiting for me outside. I explained the situation to her and she told me to go home, sleep and not to worry about it. Everything would be fine. I did go home and sleep. When I awoke later in the afternoon, I felt better. At work, I was on my best behavior and didn’t screw up, and I also didn’t pick up extra shifts any longer.
I could not work with someone who stated that they needed help but that would turn me in for being tired and overworked. I later found out that Fran went and spoke to the manager later that afternoon. She explained to the manager that I was the only one willing to pick up the extra shifts. There wasn’t another receptionist who would work with this nurse because she liked to complain about the work that the receptionists did. I don’t think that I have ever had someone stand up for me before. I was very ashamed that I couldn’t do this on my own. As time went on, I became closer and closer to Fran.
Fran taught me things about myself that I didn’t know. She taught me how to become stronger and fight for what I believe in. The most important thing that Fran taught me was how to say no. I had a very hard time saying no to my children and to others who needed a favor that would never return it when I needed them. I have always been willing to help others when I am not in the greatest position to do so, Fran has taught me that I need to provide for myself and children first, and then the others. After I worked with Fran for almost two years, she decided to retire due to health concerns that she had.
My position was being eliminated and I would be laid off. I found another job opportunity and I accepted it before I was laid off. I left before Fran retired. But I promised her that we would remain in contact with each other. When I had been with this new company for five months, my stepfather’s health declined, and he passed away. When he passed, my mother was being evicted from the house that she shared with him for over 15 years. I still owned a home in Globe and she moved into my home. I was living in an apartment while working in Mesa. I would go up to Globe on my days off to help my mother and care for my children.
After my stepfather had been gone for two months, I gave up my apartment and moved to Globe. I was still working in Mesa and having to commute between Globe and Mesa at least three days a week. I was becoming exhausted. I had spoken to Fran during this time about commuting between the two cities and how tired and irritable I was becoming. Fran then opened her home to me and told me to stay with her while I continue to work in Mesa. My youngest child likes to tell me that I now have two homes, Grandma’s and Grandma Fran’s home. Fran is the reason why I decided to return to school.
With her help, guidance and encouragement, I am now pursuing my dream to help those less fortunate than myself. Fran has allowed me to stay and occupy a room in her home, free of charge. I am invited to stay and live there until I earn a bachelor’s degree. Without Fran in my life, I never would have learned how to speak up for myself. I never would have gone back to school. Fran has made an impact on my life as well as my children’s life. She has helped me financially and spiritually. I will and try to do everything that I can to help this great lady that I have come to love as much as I love my own mother.