It’s been a long time since I could say that an entire month of Days has moved me like never before. I’m happy to say that I can proclaim that now.
Months ago, when it was announced that Frances Reid has passed away, a part of my heart was ripped out. Some people may find that a bit odd, considering I never had the honor or meeting her during my years on this Earth; those people are obviously not soap fans.
Ever since I can remember, Days of Our Lives‘ Alice Horton graced my screen on a near daily basis as the foundation of clarity and wisdom in a fictional town full of chaos and broken hearts. When Hope had doubts about how Bo felt about her, she turned to Alice. When a young Jennifer was a revolting teen who couldn’t find her way, Alice was there as a lighthouse beacon to guide her to stable land. When Laura literally lost her mind after learning of Bill’s affair with Kate, Alice was there to soothe her pain with a warm smile and a plate of hot donuts. She was always there, and for that reason, she became the grandmother of all soap opera fans.
We cried with her when she lost the love of her life, Tom. We laughed at her various antics, specifically helping out Salem’s finest back in the mid-80’s. We felt her utter joy when her granddaughter Hope was “resurrected” in the form of Gina. We reeled from her pain as she reacted to the news of her grandson Zack’s death just a few short years ago. Frances was family, plain and simple, and when she felt a true emotion, we as viewers, and fans, felt it with just a look from her.
It’s true that over the course of the last decade, Frances’ appearances have been fewer and more far in between, which is to be understood. She was after all, over 90 at the end of her life, and her flailing health hindered a more daily work schedule. Whenever she did pop in though, the glint in her eye made it be known to her cast mates and fans alike that while the body wasn’t willing, her spirit most definitely was.
After she died, I was skeptical about the way that Days would handle her tribute. Obviously she was a staple of the show and of daytime in general, but then again, so was the character of Mickey and his tribute was treated as an afterthought. The only saving grace from his passing is the tour de force performance that we were treated to by Emmy winner Suzanne Rogers. Her anguish and grief, and almost falling off the wagon to cope provided the heart of that particular storyline, and should be recognized by Emmy voters next year.
A funny thing happened though: over the course of the last few weeks we have been treated to the memorial tribute to end all tributes. Characters from the past that we haven’t seen in years are returning to the canvas to pay tribute: Lucas, Carrie, Jennifer, Laura, Bill, Doug, Julie, Marie, Kayla, Mike, Melissa, Kim and Shane. The pace has been slow to show the realism in both the evolution of terminal illness and of the reactions from those closest to her. The flashbacks used have been impeccable, and the returning characters not only have the honor of being there to honor their matriarch, but to interact with other characters to drive story into new and unexpected directions. I can’t remember when a funeral tribute for a character enveloped the entire cast in such an incredible umbrella storyline.
I have to give credit where credit is due, though. Ken Corday promised that when the tribute to Frances began, it would be one to remember, and he delivered tenfold. Dena Higley and Christopher Whitesell have penned a terrific and moving month in June, one that has brought tears of joy and tears of sorrow to this viewer’s face and the actors’ emotional reactions are so raw and real, and you can see that it goes beyond acting. It’s truly like they lost one of their own; kudos to all involved in this brilliant story.
It’s been a long time since I could say that an entire month of Days has moved me like never before.
I’m happy to say that I can proclaim that now.
Rest in peace, Mrs. Reid. You will forever be in our hearts.