Sunday, May 05, 2013


     by Glynis M. Belec

We met in nursing school many moons ago. Fran impressed me right off the bat because she had a radiant smile that lit up the room and I was soon to discover a personality that reflected both her inner and outer beauty. Miss Fran always had perfect hair and perfect manners. Each day she brought sandwiches in her lunch daintily cut into fours and she never had a bad thing to say to or about anyone. She could sing like an angel and her sense of humour was the best. She was a lady in the truest sense. And I wasn't even jealous. I was just happy to be her friend. And my fly-away locks, fidget-bum personality and less than angelic mannerisms didn't even bother her. At first I didn't know she loved Jesus. I was floundering a little with my faith and wandered here, there and everywhere trying to find meaning. I remember some of the 'chats' we had and I soon discovered that this gal had a special Friend.

     After we both graduated we lost touch for a while and life happened. Oddly enough we found out later that our children were born in the same year. We also found out that neither of us pursued a career in nursing.

     Fast forward 30 years...Fran still has perfect hair and a killer sense of humour. Even though my sweet friend moved to Florida, our friendship has been rekindled and we communicate regularly. She was more than overjoyed when I shared how I had fallen in love with that same Jesus Friend she had introduced me to so many years prior.

     So when I called her out of the blue that day in 2008 to tell her I had just been diagnosed with cancer, she donned her wings and became my long distance angel. Whenever I needed a lift or a word, she would be there coaching and encouraging; praying and prophesying. I look back now and understand how much I depended on her to see me through.

     When I got the email last week from Fran's hubby that her ride fell through and she needed to be picked up from Buffalo airport and taken to Woodstock, Ontario, I quickly made some last minute arrangements and plugged in my GPS. Any excuse to spend some quality time with my Florida bud. Just because I had never crossed the border alone in my life before, nor driven such a distance was no reason I couldn't do it now.

     My GPS was ready to set sail and it looked like a straight through trip. All went well. I headed for the Queenston Bridge. The road there was amazingly empty. I had noticed the sign earlier that said there would be 30-90 minute wait. Poppycock, I thought. There were no vehicles around. How could the wait be that long? As I neared the bridge, I saw why there were no vehicles on the road. All 500 were waiting at the border [or so it seemed!] I grinned and looked at my watch, feeling thankful that I had an hour to spare. Now I knew why there were no cars on the road. Other clever drivers had opted for another route!
One hour and twenty minutes wait at the border!

     As I waited, I planned my approach as to how I would handle crossing the border. Surely if I was chatty and cheerful, that would brighten the poor border guard's day and make him or her feel at ease. One hour and fifteen minutes later I pulled my car up to the little border booth. I smiled and said

'Hello. How are you?"

"Give me your passport and take off your sunglasses!" was the monotone response.

I did as I was told, still smiling. The guard stared at me and then asked me questions about where I was going, how long would I be, if I was taking food or liquor into the US. I told him about the cheese in my Tupperware container that I gobbled down before I got to the border and the four bottles of water in my bag and the crackers. I think I saw him raise his eyebrows.

"Do you have more than a $1000 dollars?"

"I wish," I answered still grinning.

He gave me that just answer the questions and don't be a smart Alec, look. I started to catch on. He stared at me again. My smile diminished when I realized he did not want to be cheered up.

"Open your trunk."

I did as I was told. He went to the back of my car and rummaged around. I was thinking how glad I was that I had cleaned out my trunk and vacuumed the day before. I was going to share my joy of cleaning out the trunk but then I thought he might think that I meant that I had suspicious 'stuff' in my car yesterday. I didn't want him to bring out the sniffing dogs. So instead I only shared a little.

"I'm glad I vacuumed my car yesterday." I tried smiling again.

Mr. Border Guard did not look impressed. I think I saw him shake his head as he gave me back my passport and sent me on my way. I was glad to be on the road again.

     As I travelled merrily along I was rehashing my behaviour at the border and then I remembered one of the questions Mr. Border Guard asked. The one about money. I shivered as I remembered that not only did I not have $1000 on my person, I also did not have any US money of any description on me. Sweat trickled down my brow as I saw the sign for toll booth coming up. I was in the middle of nowhere so I knew I couldn't get money changed. I saw the sign for the last turn-off before the toll booth. I quickly took it. I had no idea where I was, only that it was a bit of a creepy looking area with dilapidated buildings ominously looming all around. I pulled into a parking lot of a run-down abandoned gas station to reprogram my GPS. My over-active imagination told me to lock my doors. Soon I set sail on a route without toll booths.

     All I can say, was I didn't have a clue where I was. Obviously I was being led along the scenic route. I saw a house on fire, a traffic jam, a lake, down town somewhere. Poor Franny was greatly relieved to see me - half an hour later than I had originally said.

     We hugged and chucked my Florida Angel's luggage into the back seat.

      The return trip was another adventure that I perhaps will share another day. [Who knew there was a Woodstock in New Brunswick!]

    Fran still has perfect hair, perfect manners and still loves Jesus. There is just something special about a true friendship.

     You know...the part about how true friendship isn't about being inseparable. It's about being separated and nothing changes!



Peter Black said...

What a delightful reflection on your long-time friend and resumed contact with her. That's a lovely photo of Fran, showing her warm, radiant smile.
Hmm, and that was an uncomfortable border crossing situation. I'm sure many of us know the feeling.
I wonder if some of those nice border staff have to suck a couple of lemons before facing the day, in order to mask their niceness. It must be tough for those customs officers to be straight-faced and stoic, who in their personalities are actually cheerful and warm (?).

Donna Mann said...

I can hardly wait until you write the rest of the story. :) I'm happy you were able to make the trip. It would be special for you both.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Glynis, you made me laugh. I loved your cheerfulness at the border and could just picture it. Even if the guard didn't, Peter, maybe he had three lemons for breakfast.

Maybe he chuckled inside later that day away from his post. "That lady who gobbled her cheese before she got here!!"

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