To Frances, Our Everything

Blog post from the InezSays archive
Blog post from the InezSays archive

By: Inie - Thu, 29 Aug 2019

Eighteen years ago this past month, Frances Liverman called the landline of my parents’ house.

Stephen and I were taking a hiatus from the hectic city life and trying to regroup before moving to France to work the 2002 harvest at Domaine Dujac in Morey St. Denis.

The original plan was to go back to the city when we returned home later that Fall with a new perspective and new life in us.

Now that I look back on it, Frances’ phone call changed our entire lives in that short five-minute phone call.

“I heard you and your fiance work in restaurants. Do you want to buy mine?” the sweet voice asked.

“Oh, Frances,” I stammered, “You are very flattering to reach out to us, but Stephen and I don’t have two dimes to our name. We are living with my parents. We can’t even afford an apartment.”

Frances chuckled, and we said our polite good byes.

What I didn’t know in that moment was that my dad was in the next room listening to the entire conversation.

Within a couple of short weeks, my dad had hatched a plan with another interested buyer to purchase On the Square Restaurant and have Stephen and me run it.

“Eighteen months,” Stephen told my dad, “I’ll give you an eighteen month commitment.”

Stephen and I still went to France to work harvest, but we came back to Tarboro sooner than we had planned because the sale of On the Square went through October 17th, and we wanted to be back as soon as possible to run the first restaurant we had ever been in charge of on Day 1.

This is the story of how it came to be that Frances, Stephen and I would work together as closely as any three human beings over the course of seventeen years.

In case some of you readers don’t know, Stephen and I drink.

We actually drink a lot.

Frances didn’t and doesn’t.

Stephen and I also curse.

We actually curse a lot.

Frances didn’t and doesn’t.

Stephen and I have incredibly short tempers.

Frances has yet to lose her temper in the seventeen years she has worked alongside us.

Year 1 was our “getting to know you” phase.

After six months, I moved up north to Atlantic City while Stephen and Frances spent the next 18 months trying to figure out what made the other tick and tock.

You really cannot create two more opposite people than Frances and Stephen. I am fairly certain most people would agree with this assessment.

However, by the time I returned in Summer of 2004, the two of them were a well-oiled machine finishing each other’s sentences and understanding perfectly what the other was thinking.

I like to think of Frances as the angel who prayed, blessed and provided for our marriage once I came back to Tarboro.

For reasons beyond our understanding, she tolerated the pure craziness that Stephen and I brought into her beloved On the Square that she had owned 10 years herself before selling to us.

When Cynthia was born, she spent as many nights with Frances as she did with her grandparents.

Heck, Frances even took Cynthia to get baby pictures professionally photographed once while keeping her.

My love for April Fool’s began rubbing off on Frances where she was able to play as good of pranks on me as I was on anyone. To this day, no one has gotten me as good as Frances did on April 1st, 2011, right Cathy Worseley? Frances used little Stephen’s preschool teacher to pull the joke on me, if that gives you an idea on how much we had influenced one another.

I did get her back the following year using my dear friend Rena Farrelly, but I am not proud of it.

Frances watched me throw a portable phone at Stephen’s face while pregnant with Baby Stephen and she still came back to work the next day.

She let us go on numerous family vacations planned and with no notice because she truly loved our family as she loved her own, and told us always, “Ya’ll need to get away and enjoy your time together.”

Stories of love and forgiveness and support fill the course of seventeen years, and the amount of them could supply content for a 1500 page novel.

Frances has been taking care of Stephen and me and our children since the day we bought On the Square, and it is with the heaviest heart and eyes fullest of tears that I let our friends know that tomorrow will be her last day working.

Working is such a poor word for describing all she has done to make our restaurant the success that it is. Frances’ work has been so much more than counting the register, submitting payroll, baking all of the delicious desserts, telling people who are asking for donations no (one of the things Stephen and I are most grateful for); and making sure everyone is on task.

Frances is the love, the energy; she is the ultimate reason On the Square is alive and well in Historic Downtown Tarboro.

There is nothing Stephen and I can ever say or do to show her the appropriate gratitude we feel for all she has given and done for us personally and professionally.

This afternoon, as I type and as Stephen drives, we are silent with sorrow; and living in a place of denial that we have come to the end of an era we never saw coming. Frances has truly been our rock and our cornerstone. She is the reason we are in Tarboro and the reason we have been successful. It actually hurts to write because it brings a sadness that is suffocating.

This is sudden news, and we know you are all mourning with us. Please know there will be more information forthcoming on a time/event to celebrate her and everything she is.

I encourage each and everyone of you to reach out to her to let her know what a bright light she is in this world and in our community.

Frances, we love you more than you will ever know, and we are so grateful for the beauty and the love you put in our family’s lives and our restaurant’s life.

<A Year in Review–Part One of Two Where Have All the Flowers Gone?>