I’ve come to the conclusion that if I didn’t write about yesterday, there wouldn’t be a blog entry today at all. It was such an emotional day for me, that it encompassed me and nothing else was really important. I realize it is somewhat off topic, but when I began writing here I warned you all that there would be days like that for me. After all, I am human and as humans we are driven by our emotions more than anything else.
Yesterday was the memorial service for my dear friend Fran, who passed away earlier this week. I have known Fran ever since I came to Nova Scotia nearly eight years ago to the day. On my first visit here, I had met her and the rest of the girls who met at her place every Tuesday to paint. Since I am also a painter and had some things published, they invited me into their group and treated me like ‘one of them’ from the moment I met them. In fact, all the girls were a big part of my decision to come here to Canada to live. They were so friendly and welcoming, that I knew that I would be going to a place where I could be happy.
For five years, every Tuesday was spent at Frannies with the girls. We took a couple of months off in the summer, as it was too hot to be in her second floor studio, and the kids were out of school and the busy summer months were full, but come fall, we eagerly reassembled and once again fell into our routine of talking, laughing and creating. When I moved here to Meteghan three years ago, I wound up having to leave the group, as that was when I put my car in a ditch and figured out it was too difficult for me to travel to Bear River, which was nearly an hours’ drive from where I now lived. It seemed that our group was breaking up anyway, for no other reason other than life getting busy for all of us.
Yesterdays’ memorial service was held at the Bear River Legion. I had never attended a service such as that and there were many, many people there. I thought that I was holding things together pretty well until I got there and saw all the girls again. Seeing everyone together, as well as being in Bear River itself brought back a flood of memories and emotions to the surface that were buried deep inside. There was a wonderful picture board of Fran in many different stages of her full and wonderful life, from a young girl until her role as a teacher and grandma. There were several pictures on the board of our group, and the days up in her studio.
The memorial consisted of some words by the minister, and then friends were invited to speak and reminisce about their favorite memories of Fran, and we found ourselves laughing through our tears. There were so many stories and memories. It was sad and wonderful at the same time. By being together, we not only mourned the loss of our dear friend, but celebrated her wonderful contribution to all of our lives.
I spent the day and evening thinking about those Tuesdays. What a wonderful chapter that is in my life. Those girls are more than friends, we are all family.
There were eight or nine of us ‘regulars’, with others drifting in when they could on their lunch hour, or on the way to Digby or wherever – just to drink in the atmosphere for an hour or so and have a cup of coffee with us. We always had food there, and it got to the point that we had to set up a table in the adjacent room for our snacks, as the table got so full that there was no room for out painting supplies! The coffee pot was always full and flowing and every week was a celebration of friendship and creativity.
We all counseled each other on children, family and relationships, and wiped tears from sorrow as well as tears from laughter. We kidded and told stories of our families, children and maybe even gossiped a little bit from time to time. We all adopted the phrase “nothing leaves Frannies” as a pact that we were free to speak our minds. And that we did. :)
In all the years that I have known the girls, I have never once heard a negative or cross word spoken between us. We were like sisters in every sense of the word and if one of us was in need, the others were always there to get them through whatever they were experiencing. I don’t know what I would have done without them in my own difficult times, as they were there for me through some of the hardest things that I have had to encounter. More than once I sat with Fran and talked through the night, as she always had a spare bed and an open heart.
I found some pictures from eight years ago. This was the day I first met Fran and the girls at Fran’s place.
This is Angie and her daughter Nicki:
This is Bev. She sat right by Fran and we laughed because Fran would playfully bop Bev on the head when she “misbehaved”, or even when someone else did because Bev was the closest to her.
This is Brenda. Brenda was good enough to drive me to Frans’ in the winter months when my Mustang couldn’t handle the snow.
Nicki was the quiet one (although you could get her going, too!) She probably got more work done than any of us!
And here is Fran and I. It is a bit blurry, but the only decent picture I have of us:
I am grateful for this wonderful chapter in my life. While my heart is heavy for the loss of my friend, I am so glad that I have my memories of the many days we spent together. It was a privilege to know such a wonderful and talented person (Fran was an incredible painter) and I am very happy to be a part of such a wonderful group.
Thanks for letting me share my memories with you all today.
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"