Life is circuitous, at least mine has been, and often I find myself scratching my mop, wondering how I got to this particular place in time — and why. While the journey has been filled with twists, hairpin turns, and I’ve stopped millimeters short of a precipice or two, it’s been pretty darn good. Challenging, yes. Filled with moments of awakening should I choose to look at them, yes. And each day I find myself grateful and mostly at peace with the conscious choices I make.
Twenty-one years ago I chose to get married, become pregnant, and move to Minneapolis pretty much in one fell swoop. Pregnant, jobless, in early recovery, and not knowing a soul in the Cities except the realtor who sold us our home, I found myself in an antique store on Grand Ave. in St. Paul. Because that’s pretty much what pregnant, married, jobless and lonely people in early recovery do as everyone knows.
The real reason I was there, was so I would pick up a copy of The Phoenix, and the universe would put me in touch with Fran Jackson, then publisher.
Fran passed away peacefully this past February surrounded by her family: Mike, Frank, Carolyn, and Maretta. Fran published The Phoenix, lovingly, devotedly, and intelligently in the 1990s until her keen entrepreneurial spirit moved her in her next business venture, interacting with clients in need of Chemical Use Assessments, mainly for court cases like DWIs and other criminal defense matters, driver’s license issues, and divorces.
Fran’s daughter, Carolyn Agin Schmidt, speaks as this leg of Fran’s life as her most fulfilling. While Fran certainly served and guided the recovery and spiritual communities as the publisher of The Phoenix, it was with the aforementioned business that she could guide, advise and care for people in an intimate face-to-face fashion. “She loved meeting with each and every one of these clients, often taking hours to get to know them and help them get on the right track to recovery in whatever form they needed whether it be treatment, education, or making changes in their life,” says Carolyn. “Many times she would advise people that they ‘weren’t chemically dependent but that they needed to get a life.’” I’m sure Fran ran this business as she directed The Phoenix — confidently, competently, and with abounding compassion.
So I picked up The Phoenix at the antique store in the fall of 1995 and called Fran the next day, explaining that I was a freelance writer in want of work. Soon after, I met Fran at her home office and we spoke for hours, but not of newspapers or stories to write. We connected over our own stories — of wanting to live smartly, speak our truths, and make a difference in the world. Those things she did with aplomb.
In Fran I found a mentor both professionally and personally. She was unwavering in her commitment to the truth – in the printed word of The Phoenix, with her own candor and wisdom, and with what I knew of her personal life.
There will be a Celebration of Life for Frances Ann Jackson on Sat., June 4 from 3-6 at Cozy’s Pub on Como Park (Golf course clubhouse), 1431 Lexington Pkwy N., St Paul, MN 55117. Fran’s family is inviting anyone who knew and loved her to attend, and to share your favorite story of this vibrant and passionate soul.
In lieu of flowers please consider donating to a scholarship endowment in her name at WomenVenture (St. Paul). This endowment will serve to benefit young women who exhibit a passion for creating and owning their own business. www. firstgiving.com/fundraiser/michael-agin/ FAJ-ScholarshipFund. Peace.