"Life is very simple, but we insist on making it complicated" ~ Confucius
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Today marks a very happy occasion (I wrote this on Saturday). Today is the celebration of one of my biggest inspirations and one of my biggest fans having passed on from this earth. Opening a business is a mentally draining experience filled with both highs and lows, and having someone who supports your every action is mind candy. Every time I spoke with Francis Beans, she let me know just how much she believed in my abilities and in me…and that is worth more to an entrepreneur than anyone can imagine. Texting Base would not be here without her. I would not be here without her.
How can I be too sad? I mean, how many grandchildren get to become great personal friends with their grandmothers?
From the time I was a rambunctious little monster, no matter what I did, she always defended me…always. She lived her life as holy has anyone ever has, only wielding a vodka bottle, a cutting sense of humor and a heart bigger than her size 2-4 body. Right up to the end she had her mental faculties.
How do I know she was a size 2-4? Because I asked her on her 85th birthday what it was like getting older. Her response was the following:
“Eric, I loved your Grandfather very much. There were times if we were alone on a mountain I would have pushed him off so fast!"
She wasn't done, "I miss him with all my heart. For over 50 years of marriage we would go out and all the girls would tell him how good he looked or how handsome he was, and sometimes I would sit there feeling like a nothing. Now I like to go over to his grave site and stand over where he is buried in my size 2-4 jeans and say “who looks good now, you son-of-a-bitch?”
Needless to say, this response was NOT what I expected…but it was epic. The German blood breeds a certain type of bluntness, and she had it in spades.
“I know one day you would quit screwing up and turn your life around” she would say. That was a little over a month ago…
I spoke to her on Wednesday, May 20th for exactly 8 minutes at 9:33AM. That was the last time I will ever hear her voice. I told her I called so early because I hear old people are early risers. She laughed and said usually she gets up later and that her new medication was allowing her to sleep better.
She sounded terrible and could barely talk. I told her politely “you sound like total shit…what are they having you drink over there? Have someone get you some hot green tea and organic honey…and none of that white trash “Lipton” you drink…that stuff is garbage.”
She said she was a coffee drinker. Go figure. We both know she really wanted some Vodka, but that wasn’t in the cards. I promised her I would sneak her some next time I saw her…a promise I plan to keep. I tried to get her to promise not to die until after I came home in September (yes, I did ask her to promise not to die yet…we were very close)…she wouldn’t promise. She knew she couldn’t.
“The days go by pretty slow when you can’t do anything.” Those words will stick with me forever…she was losing her sight…she couldn’t move around very well but her mind was sharp. She wanted to live to see people achieve milestones. She wanted to see great grandchildren pass grades and have kids of their own. Life had become tough for her…I could tell there wasn’t much left in the tank.
Even the country music awards didn’t cheer her up. “I don’t know what I was listening to, but that sure as hell wasn’t country music!”
She could barely talk, but she was still worried about everyone but herself, including whether her pesky squirrels had enough seed to keep them full. She was asking about my daughter and lamenting that she wanted to see her, wanted me to tell my mom she missed her…wanted me to send her love to Laila and wanted me to know how proud of me she is and how much she loved me. This was a very typical conversation…an onslaught of positivity.
As one of my uncles once said to describe her…”mom, if Jeffrey Dahlmer were in the house you would say “the man is hungry, he has to eat!””
I looked forward to these pleasantries and called her often. I always told her how much I appreciate her and love her…and those are not “past tense” on purpose. Francis Beans changed my life. I am far from the only one. These calls with her filled my soul and gave me strength. She was an angel on earth.
Francis Ann Thomas (or “the lady who always donates” as the telemarketers call her) was born on September 11th (yes, really) in Hamilton, Virginia in 1925. I can’t recall the exact number of kids in her HS but her class was around 30 people. She was a small town lady with a big heart.
My grandfather (her husband to be) got into a fistfight on their first date, and almost didn’t get a second date. He locked her down very quickly after that by inviting her to see a priest. Despite all the warnings from people saying my granddad was wild, she ignored their warnings and they were married. This proved to be a great move. She became a “Beans” and 6 children would soon be blessed with that last name. First was my dad, Timmy. Ricky, Randy, Ronny, Terry and Tracy all followed. Every single one of those people I just named are fantastic human beings with clean criminal records and great credit. That’s a sign of great parenting.
She lives on through each person she touched with her warm heart. That’s how it is with any passing, but especially with a woman who did so much for so many.
My brother and I were her first grandchildren and our parents had us when they were like 10 years old (19 and 23, same thing), so we were lucky enough to get more years with her.
From the time I was young I saw this woman’s inner beauty at work time and time again. No family Holiday was complete without a new round of strangers who were not fortunate enough to have family around that year. Every Thanksgiving there would be a new set of random people and they could be from any part of the world of walk of life.
Francis Beans was a consummate giver. She was just a giver she almost gave away all her money before she died and then almost didn’t have any money left down the stretch! She was a giver to a degree I have not seen matched. If anyone needed money, she gave it and expected nothing back. She would often get caught giving money behind people’s backs and causing problems. She was incorrigible with her generosity. She was scolded often but ignored the critics and kept on giving.
My grandmother was very religious, but you never heard her say a word about it and never forced her beliefs on anyone else. She loved churches, and her idea of a vacation involved visiting old churches and cherishing their beauty. She was everything a true Catholic should be…and nothing that they should not be. I’ve been calling her a Saint for over 30 years, and believe she earned that title every single minute of every single day.
I’ve dreaded this day for so many years I can’t count. I always knew this day would come although I figured she might outlive me. My grandmother has been a living hero and pinnacle of what is right in this world for me for a loooong time. I often have found myself wondering why more people are like they are, and not like her?
The strength she gave me with every phone call is beyond explanation. This angel of a human being loved me and believed in me, and now it’s up to me to keep her alive in my soul and make sure she is always proud of who I am. Being as good as her is a tall order. I venture to say Texting Base would not be alive if not for her. I also venture to say with absolute conviction that she saved my life on more than one occasion. A big part of my motivation is just not wanting to make her worry…she did that…constantly.
My grandmother was a woman who dieted so she would look good in the afterlife for my Grandfather (who does that?). She was a woman who dreamed of kicking bikini-clad blondes sitting next to my Grandfather off of clouds so she could be with him (not kidding). She was a woman who still was territorial over her man over 10 years after his death. She was loyal, caring and loving. They truly don’t make them like her anymore. I am honored to have had her influence, love and wisdom. I am happy she can now be put to rest on top of my Granddad’s final resting place. She is now finally able to be with her man for eternity…and although she sounded like Janis Joplin after 5 packs of cigarettes, she still looked great.
Francis Ann Beans passed away surrounded by loved ones on Sunday May 24th, 2015 on Memorial Day Weekend. This is a fitting day for her to pass, as Memorial Day symbolizes those who gave their lives for a greater cause. She was not killed in a violent battle, but she impacted and saved lives and was certainly a hero to those of us fortunate enough to know her.
In a few days she will receive my wedding invitation. I should have told her it was in the mail…she would have probably found a way to live a few more days! She was like that…a fighter and strong mentally, but the body didn’t have it anymore.
I will miss absolutely everything she had to offer. Texting Base will miss her. Unconditional love like she offered is usually only seen in children and puppies. I am happy she did not suffer. I am happy I spent so many great years with my friend, hero, supporter and grandmother. Tell granddad I said hi…we will break the bad news to the telemarketers gently. They are going to be very sad.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Beans is CEO of Texting Base, Inc., out of Orlando, Florida. Texting Base is a cloud-based marketing automation software which allows entities to personalize group text messages.
Prior to Texting Base, Eric was the first US employee of TechSpan which became Headstrong. Headstrong sold for $550M to GenPact.
With a group of partners in 2005, Eric started Premier Mortgage Capital, Inc., a nationwide state charted Mortgage Company that grew to over 2B/Year in originations.
Eric is the author of "Changing The World Through Texting Software" and writes the entrepreneur section of "LA Style Magazine." Eric is an inventor, investor, and longtime entrepreneur. Eric also had a radio show in Melbourne, Florida.
Eric also has experience as a TV personality of "DAYTIME," a show syndicated on CBS in over 95 markets.