The Ten Minute Mom (Reflections on Her Life)

 

 

The title of this piece is not a reference to any particular trait possessed by our Mother.  It is, rather, a nod toward the dilemma we faced as a family in reducing the life span of the irrepressible & unsinkable Marion Josephine Franklin to a mere ten minute dissertation. So, this is the Readers Digest condensed version of the book of “Josie”, the Coles Notes of the best seller known as “Jo” as it were. As an aside, I will refer to her variously as Mom, Jo, Josie, and Joey throughout. All of you here today knew and loved her by many or all of those names, and others, including Grammie, Great-Grammie, friend and neighbour. On her behalf, and that of her family, I welcome you all to this celebration of a life well lived J

 

Back to the subject of books: Jo loved books, reading, and writing, anything to do with putting or reading words on a page. She read books to us at a very early age, and engendered a love of reading that persists to this day.

 

Having worked in the field of adult literacy for some ten years now, I can testify to the power of words in shaping the future lives and prospects of children when the parents engage in reading to, and with them from an early age. Mom did both, and then some. She introduced us to the wonderful world of Beatrix Potter, and the myriad creatures and personalities of field and forest, including two personal favourites, Danny Meadow Mouse and Grandfather Frog. She even created her own stories about Pipsy-Doodle & Chucklenut, the ongoing adventures of two chipmunks. Although some of these sagas were recorded for posterity in later years, at the time of first telling they were simply pulled out, dusted off, and updated on a nightly basis from memory. Amazing!

 

Her love of words also manifested itself in other ways. Some of my earliest memories of learning about spelling, and words in general, come from sitting opposite my Mother at the Scrabble board. And, as my brother-in-law Lyle will attest, after more than five decades of high-spirited competition, she never failed to confound and delight by coming up with words that we had never heard tell of…but you didn’t dare challenge her. Why? Because if you did, lo and behold, those words were always there to be found in the dictionary.

 

 

 

There is another “W” word for which Mom had a special fondness, and that would be…Wood! Specifically the sorting, hauling, chucking, stacking, re-stacking, and ultimately burning of wood. Josie was a self-styled and absolutely authentic expert on the homely science of extracting heat from wood. Particularly in the years after our Father (and her husband) George passed away, she elevated this pursuit to an art form, routinely sorting, hauling, chucking, stacking and re-stacking four or more cords of wood every year. By herself, unassisted….and this went on well into her nineties…in fact, in approximately her ninetieth year, along with going sledding as a birthday present to herself, Jo managed to grab third place in Nova Scotia in terms of wood stacking prowess. Her picture appeared, alongside one of her neatly packed mini-mountains of maple and ash, in a provincial publication about the pleasures of rural living (the name of which eludes me, but I digress, and time moves on…this risks becoming the 11 or even the 12 minute Mom!).

 

So, one more venture into the tales of Josephine the wonder-mom, and then, I promise, a quick wrap-up…

 

Mom also had a thing for things that fly. Birds and bats, primarily. She loved the former, faithfully tending her finch and hummingbird feeders for years, while watching her feathered flock from a kitchen window.

 

Bats, on the other hand…Josie had two quite remarkable encounters with those leathery-winged varmints, the first involving a single bat which she and our Father were able to vanquish quite easily through clever team work and her expert broom handling. The second set to was more of a solo act on her part, although the bats brought in reinforcements. Seventeen to be precise. She had to resort to a shovel, and other implements of destruction on this occasion, but still managed to emerge triumphant. For those wishing more details on this earth-shaking battle, please see my niece Tanya at the reception afterward, as she was a witness to the mayhem.

 

Before sprinting to the finish line, I will just list, in no particular order, a few other people, places, and things which held special significance to our pal Joey:

 

·        George Rodney Franklin…OK, I fibbed…he had VERY special significance, and should be at the top of the list.

 

·        Walks, anywhere, anytime, for as long as she could manage them

 

·        Molasses cookies with thimble circles on top…and donut holes, long before Tim ever thought of Timbits.

 

·        Horses. She loved horses.

 

·        Cats, especially those named Garfield…she had at least three by my count, including a stuffed toy modeled after the comic book feline.

 

·        England, and all things English, especially the Union Jack, right side up, or upside down

 

·        The original “Little Women” and “Jo”, much like Mom and sisters Margaret, Louise, and Penny

 

·        Going bare foot, whenever and wherever possible, the first of three things that apparently led to long life…I will not speak of the other two here, and don’t ask me afterward, because I’m not telling!

 

·        ET, the Extraterrestrial, who lived on her bed for years, along with the stuffed (and sometimes real) Garfields

 

·        Climbing trees. I don’t think that one made it into her nineties, but the eighties for sure.

 

·        Music, Dr. Zhivago, and “Lara’s Theme”, more commonly known as “Somewhere My Love”, which greeted you today, and will serenade her once more as we depart.

 

·        Last, but by no means least, living independently in her own home to the age of 98.

 

 

In closing, I will make reference to several of Josie’s favourite sayings, ones that she chose to live by, and in some cases brought forth when she felt we or others needed a special boost, advice or encouragement.

 

One has hung on her kitchen wall for years, and goes: “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do without”. Sounds vaguely “green”, does it not? This signified not only her thrifty nature, but also that she was an environmentalist at heart long before the word ever became popular.

 

The second saying is “It t’is what it t’is, and it can’t get no tisser”, which in her recollection apparently came from her Gramma Bell.

 

And the third, being “This too will pass”.

 

So, while Josie’s life journey now “T’is what it t’is, and it can’t get no tisser”, we may also say about any transient grief that we may feel at her passing that “This too will pass”.

 

What WILL NOT PASS are the memories of this dear, special, spunky lady that we collectively knew as Mom, Jo, Josie, Joey, Grammie, Great Grammie, friend and neighbour. Those will endure forever. And to borrow from her favourite song, we will indeed meet again, someday, somewhere my love.

 

copyright r.b.franklin 25/03/09

 

 

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We Three Dinks of Ottawa Are

 
We three dinks of Ottawa are,
Promising gifts we bond from afar,
A pox on Harper,
We’ll be sharper
If you put us in charge
 
Uhhhh-ohhhh…….
 
Here comes Stephen with Michelle,
The rogue’s prorogued us all to hell
The doors are locked,
And we’ve been BLOC’d
Until the New Year rings its bell
 
Now it’s time for us to go
Back into our slimy holes
As for Harper,
He’s just starkers,
Wearing the King’s new clothes…
 
 
copyright r.b.franklin 05/12/08
 
 
 
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City by the Sea

 

 

Five companions ventured forth

 to see what they could see,

along a street where sisters lived

 in a city by the sea,

and Elizabeth lingered near

awaiting Mother’s return,

as across the way two cedars grow

 in memory discerned

 

Then venturing out by park so Pleasant

yet exposed to windy wrath,

where ancient trees like matchsticks fell

in Juan’s almighty swath,

now just a little further on

eyeing properties historic,

while munching on odd tasting fries

 quite massively caloric

 

Best move along to sample fudge

 and chocolate in our turn,

and make our way to Pier 21

 while butter fat is burned,

there to wonder at the past

 of immigrant’s storied songs,

scattered along these glorious shores

 in all their huddled throngs

 

Citadel calls us up the hill

 to enter battlements so grand,

soldiers parade and bagpipes blow

as we gaze across the land,

and ponder how Elaine could know

that bread and meat was stored,

when the explanation simply stated

was spelled out on the door

 

Now departing walls where prisoners

 peered out long, long ago,

it’s down the road and out of town

 to Swiss Chalet we go,

where chicken quarters and stir fry

 restored and made us whole

as sated, off to home we head

content in mind and soul.

 

 

Copyright r.b.franklin 04/07/08

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Two Words

 

 

Life and love, two kindred words

Describe a means not untoward

To carry on along the way

While night is night and day is day

 

Yet in the space that lies between

Unspoken hopes in land of dreams

There may abide unbidden truth

Allowing pleasure’s pain to soothe

 

To guide us all through ether’s murk

Where self-deception often lurks

And if allowed will twist the tale

To make us think our journey’s failed

 

But lest cold fate may have its’ way

Instead of goodness holding sway

Remember well and truly this, 

It is a test, we must resist

 

And carry on with all and sundry

Circumstances so profoundly 

Soaked in seas of greater depth

Wherein the passage takes our breath

 

Yet all must hie along this course

In glorious song or bitter verse

To imagine otherwise my friend

Is to live and love in the land of pretend

 

 

Copyright r.b.franklin 20/06/08

 

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How?

 

 

How is the girl I miss so much?

The world may end at any moment

Where is the lady whose gentle touch

Defuses dreams that come to torment

 

How did you come into this life?

When hope had drawn far away

Awash in real or imagined strife

That dominated darkened days

 

How is it that my breath is caught?

When your hand is wrapped in mine

No longer bound by history fraught

With ancient images crystalline

 

How can it be I am set free?

To linger near your heart my dear

A rebirth of sorts for all to see

An epiphany of insight clear

 

How will it all turn out I wonder?

Sitting here by words confined

Trying to avoid past blunders

Along this path so ill defined

 

How may your soul entwine with mine?

As feet we cool in sparkling brook

A place so perfect it nears divine

You could not write it in a book

 

How and how and how again?

Perhaps together we’ll simply find

That pleasure shared will offset pain

As mine own spirit binds with thine

 

 

Copyright r.b.franklin 19/06/08

 

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Exanimate

 

 

NeverLight, eternal sprite

A house of deadened dreams,

Where spirits go to pass away,

(But oh so slowly)

And wholly composed

Of those indisposed

To step into the light

 

 

Copyright r.b.franklin 18/06/08

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Seriously Speaking

 

 

Taking self too seriously

is the latest diagnosed

fault line of mine

I find too many on my own

to lightly take another’s tone

it simply adds upon the pile

of dysfunctional and infantile

things I know about myself

 

Sullen does not

begin to capture

the pain imposed

within the skin

 (it’s oh so thin)

the voices din

inside this head

compelling and dispelling

all rational thought

 of contented times

while happy rhymes

are just so hard to come by

 

There is no denying that

melancholy flows like folly

in self-destructive waves

beneath the usual facades

like lines in the sand

which will apparently

drive us apart

if stance is taken

that ties should be forsaken

and assuredly lead to the

end of these days of

wine, roses and herbal remedies

 

A flash in the pan

(despair in the can)

that sits on my shelf like

 Eleanor Rigby’s *

jar by the door

and who is it for

indeed?

 

 

copyright r.b.franklin 05/05/08

(*Eleanor Rigby – J.Lennon & P.McCartney)

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