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Thursday, 28 November 2013

Francis

My brother's name is Francis Samuel Pretty.  His name, Francis, comes from my mother's side of the family.  Mom's uncle, on her mother's side, was Francis and so was her brother.  The older men were referred to as France.  In our house, my brother was called Francis. He was named Samuel after our father.

As he grew up, of course, his name was Frank to his friends.  I remember someone calling our house one day asking for Frank. I said that he had the wrong number.  I honestly didn't make the connection to my brother at all.  Today I call him Frank.  Mom never did.

Shortly after he was born, my brother had ear problems.  He had abscesses in his ears and he was in a lot of pain.  Doctors didn't know how to treat him.  So, for the first three years of his life, my brother cried.  Day and night.  
 
   Our earliest picture, our friend Nora, Frank (in my doll's carriage), me and the cat

I was four and a half when Frank was born, so I was in school by September.  I remember waking to the crying, often that hard cry babies have when you know something serious is happening.  I remember wishing that he would stop.  Mom and Dad walked the floor with him.  Mom would be so tired after a day of the crying that when Dad came home, he would take over until bedtime.  Then they would share the night duty. 

I really don't know how they did it.  Also, how did Frank stand it?  He didn't have much choice I guess and neither did Mom and Dad.  I know it was at this time that Mom started her lifetime devotion to St. Anne and I think that prayer helped her cope.  Dad was one of the most patient men I have ever met and I know his patience was tested at that time.  They really worked well together, shared the burden, and prayed, as did everyone in the family.  
                  Frank was one and I was six when this picture was taken
          

Finally, just before Mom and Dad were to take Frank to Montreal for a possible treatment, doctors got a new medication that worked almost instantly.  The quiet was deafening!  Frank's hearing was perfect too.  Mom attributed the miracle to St. Anne's intervention.  She promised then to take her family to visit the Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupre in Quebec.  Frank still remembers the look on Mom's face the day we finally got there.  

Looking at my little grand babies now, I can imagine what Mom and Dad went through.  It must have been heart breaking for them to see their little boy suffering that way.  Children are resilient though and Frank recovered well.  Thankfully he does not remember the pain!  Another miracle?

He tells the story of his hearing test for work last year.  Frank fully expected that he'd have hearing loss like many of his co-workers.  His hearing is still perfect!

Years ago, Frank told Mom about one of his co-workers who was waiting for a kidney transplant.  Mom gave Frank a St. Anne's medal to give him plus instructed Frank to tell the story about his own miracle and the promise to visit the Shrine.  Frank was concerned that the man wasn't Catholic but did as Mom suggested since she felt the man would be alright if he followed the advice.  It's now twenty years later and the man is near retirement, still carrying the medal.  He too visited the Shrine during a business trip to Quebec. Apparently St. Anne doesn't know denominational boundaries.

Frank was just a gorgeous looking baby, with blond, curly hair and a round face.  As he got older, his hair got darker until it eventually disappeared on top; then disappeared altogether due to his razor!  

My brother was an athlete.  He excelled at soccer especially and like my Dad, really enjoyed the game. He played on the same team with Dad one year and eventually Dad coached Frank's team.  They both enjoyed the time together at something they loved.

Frank took piano lessons for a few years and while his teacher thought he had potential, Frank didn't.  He also sang in the Music Festival one year, a song called The Little Ships of Newfoundland.  Since the Nun who was the music teacher had a retreat at the time of the performance, she asked me to accompany Frank and the other boys who represented the school at the festival.  

That day there must have been fifty boys in that class, all performing the same song.  It was incredibly taxing to the nerves and the patience.  Needless to say, that was Frank's last solo performance.  We still have the song scratched into our psyches.

                                                         

      Ready for "The Little Ships of Newfoundland"

In keeping with his athleticism, Frank did Community Recreation Leadership at Cabot College in St. John's, Newfoundland.  He has worked with the Town, now City of Mount Pearl in a variety of capacities since his teenage years when he worked there in the summers.  He is looking forward to retirement in the next several years.

Frank married Michele Taylor, whose parents were friends with our parents.  They have one daughter, Samantha.  The Prettys live in Mount Pearl and enjoy as much time as possible at their cabin in Placentia Junction.

                                     Frank, Samantha, Michele, 2012

However, these things don't tell you who my brother is.  Frank is a loyal person who makes friends easily and keeps them for a lifetime.  He is always there to help anyone as many people will testify.  At the same time as my mother lived in their basement apartment, Michele's father lived upstairs with Frank, Michele and Samantha.  He was there for our mother every day of her life.  Frank is a loving husband, father, brother and uncle who does his job and enjoys his friends and family.  He is easy to be around, funny and capable.  I always enjoy his view of things because it is usually precise and straight forward.  He "tells it like it is."  He has a tremendous sense of justice and what is right and lives a good life.

Our mother died in April 2008 and two months later, my fifty year old brother had a heart attack.  It was very scary for all of us, especially Frank, Michele and Samantha.  I thought at the time that I was glad that Mom hadn't lived to see that happen.  But my next thought was that if Mom hadn't died, Frank probably wouldn't have had the heart attack.  Who knows?  We're all glad he didn't have any heart damage.  Essentially, a broken heart doesn't show as physical damage.

I have been blessed with a great brother.  

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