Lifelong friends recovering from strokes together

Posted at 10:37 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 23:12:37-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A pair of women are in a Grand Rapids hospital learning its better to have someone to lean on in a time of need.

Ninety-three-year-old Frances Frigoli and 94-year-old Marian Anderson are both at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital in Grand Rapids after suffering a stroke.

The friends have been together for the last 70 years, and continue to support each other through their recoveries.

“We’ve never gone through it alone. We’ve always had each other,” Frigoli said.

The process started when Anderson came to visit Frigoli after she suffered a stroke. A week later, Anderson ended up across the hall for the same reason.

“I had no idea that she was here with the same thing I was being treated for,” Frigoli said.

They’re recovering in the Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation Center — the spot where they met for the first time as nurses.

Three years after starting at the hospital in 1949, they graduated from the Blodgett nursing program.

“We had singular aim in all the time we were training to become nurse missionaries,” Anderson said.

A couple years after graduation, Frigoli left for Bolivia and stayed overseas for about 40 years and Anderson spent 15 years in Peru. Being hundreds of miles apart in different countries didn’t stop them from seeing each other.

“Every five years, either she came to Peru for vacation or I went to Bolivia for vacation,” Anderson said.

They became so close that Frigoli’s kids call Anderson “Aunt Marian.”

Eventually both of the women returned to their roots and continued their lifelong friendship.

“Companionship of a lifetime, there are so many that go through it alone, and we’ve never gone through it alone. We’ve always had each other,” Frigoli said.