Francine is part Choctaw and it’s something you can see in the features of her face, which is strong and powerful with high cheekbones, her expressions full of bright energy.
In 2020 she suffered a stroke in her Court 4 home and was briefly hospitalized. The stroke left her with a neurological condition called aphasia, in which the pathways from her brain’s speech centers are impaired. As a result she can struggle with certain words and parts of speech. She will, for example, want to describe the day when she fell ill. She’ll want to name the service that took her to the hospital, but instead of saying ‘fire truck’ out of her mouth will come ‘fireworks.’ This is the sort of struggle that can be especially frustrating and poignant for someone who has prided herself on her exceptional language skills for much of her life.
I run into Francine and her little white dog, Goldie, on walks with my own dogs, Louie and Josie; in the three months we’ve been talking she’s battled back such that her abilities are improving immensely. If you see her around Court 4 with Goldie, please say hello and have a patient chat. Despite her impairments, she’s one of the sharpest tacks I’ve found here among my neighbors.