I wrote this column a year ago after my friend Dave shared his wonderful and heartwarming story about how his Falmouth had made such a difference in changing his life. Dave, and so many Falmouthites like him that make our community such a special place to live, is one of the primary reasons I consider it a privilege to write this column. Last week, when recognizing the efforts of another cherished Falmouthite, I mistakenly noted that she had passed when she is still very much among us. My thoughts and prayers, and certainly my apologies, are extended to Mary Lou Smith and her family.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of Falmouth. Here is Dave's story:
As we bask in the wonderful memories (and delicious leftovers) of yesterday's celebration of that day nearly 400 years ago when near strangers celebrated their thanks together, we should all take time to ponder that for which we are grateful. You see, I have come to believe that one of the things that allows me to remain grateful - full of thanks on this Thanksgiving Day - is remembering and recounting stories about this community - our community - that keep me full of gratitude. I'd like to share one with you that was shared with me recently. It demonstrates my appreciation for Falmouth on this most thankful of days.
Fran was a hard working mom with four great kids ranging in age from 18 to 7. She and her husband had a beautiful house here in Falmouth, and had what appeared to be a storybook small town life. On a November day not unlike today, her husband left for work and never came home. He had a heart that knew few bounds when meeting others, but that could beat no longer. Fran, at 36, was left alone and in shock, wondering how she would care for her kids, never mind how to manage a Thanksgiving dinner for them. Without a second thought, her neighbor Sue, a summer resident but year-round friend, opened her home in Connecticut to Fran and her family. That Thanksgiving and the Christmas that followed were but the first of countless kind and selfless acts from Fran's Falmouth neighbors that would help keep the family together during such a devastating time. Make no mistake, the love, faith, and sometimes sheer will of Fran to stabilize her kids' lives and surround them with her boundless love were the glue that kept the family intact, but it was the love and support of neighbors, linked by geography as Falmouthites but connected by an unbreakable sense of community, that helped the family thrive. And thrive they did. Buoyed by random acts of kindness ranging from free care from a local Orthodontist to visits to the house from Boy Scout leaders, to the watchful eye of caring teachers at Falmouth High, Fran's kids grew up as good kids - and became good citizens - with much having been given by the Falmouth community.
Falmouth's kindness, though, was not yet done with this family. A generation later, Fran's son Dave showed up, as he did most days, on her doorstep for Thanksgiving unstable on his feet, the result of that day's escape in a bottle that had become his only trusted friend and at the same time his mortal enemy. Dave lost his footing as he entered Fran's house for that day of thanks, resulting in a couple of broken ribs, a shattered ego, and a broken man. He needed help; his family and his Falmouth were there. Dave's journey continued, and he go the help he needed - from a new found faith and a new set of Falmouth friends who joined together in fellowship - but there he was, the same age as his dad was at his demise, sober but jobless and penniless, contemplating how he would take care of his wife and kids, never mind Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Like neighbors and friends had more than twenty years before, Falmouthites filled up Dave's fridge and a month later his Christmas tree in a selfless display of neighborly love. This time, the Falmouth Service Center and its dedicated volunteers played a part as well - and helped out with regular supplies of food and advice on keeping Dave's new way of life part of his future.
Yesterday, Fran, Dave, and all of their family, including a roomful of grandchildren, celebrated America's day of thanks - and they did it together as a family and together here in Falmouth.
When Dave recounted this heartfelt story to me I realized, as I wiped a tear from my cheek, that similar stories are all around this community - if you look and listen. So look, listen and give thanks for this day and this town - for our community - our Falmouth.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.