Besides my own mother, my great aunt Phyllis Frank was probably the most consistent reader of my blog. I don’t write about anything really too crazy-important here, just life experiences and perspectives. But Phyllis would always read, and she’d usually comment on the post or email me as well. She lived in Florida
for as long as I can remember, and we communicated mainly via email. In regards to my blog posts she always had encouraging things to say, and wanted to make sure I knew that she enjoyed what I wrote. It only makes sense to write a blog post in her honor. I know that if she were still with us, she’d comment on the post, and probably “like” the link on Facebook too. 🙂
Before email really became a thing, Phyllis was my pen pal. I loved opening her letters, which always included a couple comic strips or articles cut out from the newspaper. I remember being inspired by an article she send me about a man who spent 2 years in African villages with the Peace Corps, and thinking that maybe I’d go into the Peace Corps one day. Eventually I think she realized that email was a better way to reach our generation, and the letters were replaced by shorter, more frequent emails.
Over the years, her emails were random bright spots in my weeks. She’d just write to say hello, and ask how things were going. Once, her email just said, “scenery for you!” and included a picture of a beautiful mountainscape. She was one who sought and enjoyed the beauty of the earth, almost always including updates on the Florida weather in her emails. As a younger girl I thought this was funny and eccentric, so sometimes I would respond with my own weather updates. I also would sometimes try and get her to talk about herself, but my questions never got deeper than “How are you?” or “How are things in FL??” because her answer would always be short (“I’m fine–“) before changing the subject to something that had to do with me or my family (“Tom said that he was taking Jessie and Josiah to the dentist today. He is going to buy lunch for Jessie at ‘Culvers.'”). I felt that she didn’t want to focus so much on herself… she was emailing without any motives besides just wanting to know about my life. By this I always knew she was incredibly kind and considerate, although I wish I’d known more about this remarkable lady.
Sometimes her emails would just state facts about what I was up to, as if to assure me that she was still keeping up.
“Hi Jordan – loved your blog. You are in the church choir and have discovered the university campus with free wi fi and 70 cent coffee!”
Or sometimes it was just a few words and a picture that reminded me she was still thinking about me.
“Hope you are seeing pretty sights like this one!:”
Because she kept up on Facebook as well, she knew what was going on as quickly as anyone else, and did what she could to be involved. When my wallet and phone got stolen in Spain, she emailed me immediately saying that she was sorry it happened and that she had contacted my mom about
helping with the cost of a new phone. “You will definitely need it,” she said. Always so considerate. Both times that I raised support for a summer project, she would email ME before I even got the chance to contact her, saying she’d like to support me and that she’d be sending a check in the mail soon.
Today I went back and looked through my old, pre-college email account and read some of Phyllis’ older emails. There must have been at least a hundred threads, dating back several years. I was struck by how much I’ve taken for granted her efforts to be involved in my life over the years. Even though she was far away, it always felt like she truly cared. Today I’m thankful for her life, her intentionality, and her support. I have learned so much from her, whether she knows it or not.
I am inspired to reach out to others, especially young people, making them feel important and making an effort to be present their lives.
I am inspired to appreciate the random beauty in the world, nature, and even things as seemingly insignificant and constant as the weather.
But most of all I am inspired to never take another person for granted, to tell the people I love how I feel about them because it’s impossible to know when a life will just end.
As an old-soul Millennial who sometimes gets frustrated with our generation’s immersive relationship to the internet, this is one instance where I’m incredibly appreciative and can see clearly the benefits of social media. I wouldn’t have known Phyllis without it. I’m thankful for God’s soverignty and control in this situation, and I’m thankful that she’s no longer hurting, but instead laughing and appreciating the beautiful things in Heaven with her Savior.
I will always miss your presence in my life, Phyllis. Thank you for your constant support. Love you.