Home » Sunlight » A Bit of Sunlight – Finding Frances

A Bit of Sunlight – Finding Frances


I am down. I have been good for days. I am not even sure how many. I went out for supper and saw Eat, Pray, Love again with some friends. I have been moving which is the most important thing I think. Now I have slowed down considerably. I just want to lay in bed and sleep this day away. What is the point to all this stuff in life? Is there a point? I don’t belong here. I hope I can sleep and the world will forget that I exist.

I curl up tighter under the duvet. I close my eyes and try to shut off the horrible voice in my head. I don’t even know what it is saying but I don’t want to listen.  I just want to sleep and There is a void in my negative self-diminishing thoughts of not belonging and having no place in this world where all of a sudden I sit up. Just like that.  Like a voice pulled me up.  I have to find a family member on my mother’s side.

I have done the preliminary research before. Many years ago, like 2004. I had found my mother’s maternal lineage in a community history book.  It listed all the children, my grandmother’s sisters and brothers, with their married names.  All I had to do was search for their phone numbers.  I stopped here, where I had to call a list of people to find one that would acknowledge being related to me. Calling up random people has seemed so daunting so the task has been sitting in limbo for six years.  I have been too afraid to put myself out there. The idea of making those calls made me feel so vulnerable. I always thought, what if the person on the other end was rude or didn’t want anything to do with me? But now I find I am moving like a robot to the living room, opening my laptop and searching on mysask.com for a phone directory. I am not in control of my body anymore. I am just moving. I have to do it today.

The first call was a lady that had no idea what I was talking about.  I don’t think English was her first language so that could be part of our barrier.  

“Hello, I am doing some family research and looking for a relative of Frances Diedral.  Her maiden name would have been Green.  Would you happen to know anyone by that name?” I ask nervously but determined.  This is happening today.

“That sounds like Granny Frances.  My husband is her grandchild.  She always talks about the Greens.”  says the lady on the other line.  She is pleasant.  Why did I think someone would be attacking me?  Why did I think this would be such a big deal?

“Would you mind passing my name and number onto her?  I would love to chat with her.”

“Yah.  For sure, I will call her right now. Can you just explain your connection to me?”  I do this and from how she responds I am certain I have found the right family tree.

“Awesome!  Thank you so much.  May I ask you your name?”


“Thank you so much Jane.  I really appreciate it.”

Enthusiastically I hang up the phone.  Second call and I have hit the jackpot!  I pace the floor. I go and get dressed anxiously. I open the fridge door looking for food. Something to snack on and distract me from this lull in time while I wait for the phone to ring. I am on edge waiting for a phone call. What if she doesn’t call? What if she doesn’t want anything to do with my mom’s crazy side of the family? I feel like I am in fast-forward touching a bunch of things and moving about but all of it makes no sense and I am moving too fast to be aware of what I am doing.

I can’t take it. I grab my purse and head to the car. I will drive to the city. I can’t sit here any longer.

I am on the road. Half way to the city and I realize where I am.  It dawns on me that I am up. It was just a moment ago that I was laying in bed hoping my existence would not be noticed and now I am vibrating with so much energy I do not know what to do with myself.  I waste time looking around a few consignment stores, book stores – used and new.  Finally I decide it is time to go home.

When I return from the city, I see a red light flashing on my answering machine.   I hit play. “Marian, are you there? I can’t hear you. Marian? I don’t hear anything.” That was it. That is what she said. It sounds like she would be interested in talking to me.  It sounds like she is looking for me. I call her back.

She is a delight. I am in love with her immediately. She is kind and straightforward. I know where I stand with her and she is brimming with compassion and kindness. She is so raw and open with her emotions. “My husband George died thirteen years ago.” She weeps and you can sense the love she had for him in her tears. I realize in this moment that a stranger is crying and letting her heart pour out to me and I can’t do that for myself. Not even when I am all alone. She can be so open with her emotions and I bottle them up inside.

She tells me about her daughter, Brenda, who died of pituitary cancer. She cries, saying that “You could not find a better daughter. Ask anyone who knew her and they will tell you she was the kindest soul and she always had a smile on her face.” She is crying and I love her passion. Her freedom to be herself.

She tells me a little bit about my family tree. She says “Now, Granny Green was a selfish person. She did not give hugs. She was very regal and it was important for her to be a proper English Lady. She was the Governess to a Minister Brown in Winnipeg in the late 1880’s.”

“What was Grandpa Green like?” Excited to finally hear this, who my family is.

“Grandpa Green was a gentle, kind person.”

“Were they happily married if she was so selfish and he was so kind?”

“He was kind enough for both of them”, she replies. After a moment of silence she tells me, “I remember as a little girl Grandpa Green getting on the train to go to Saskatoon to see a doctor. He never came home. Then at the age of 21 I am at the train station holding my baby girl and all of a sudden I cry for my Grandpa. It has been so long and I still love him. We were so close.” I am still in awe about her freedom to express her emotions.

We end the conversation planning for me to come and visit her. She wants to harvest her garden and will call me to arrange our plans when that is done.



2 thoughts on “A Bit of Sunlight – Finding Frances

  1. I like how the character becomes more aware of her personal discomfort with expressing emotions while she explores her family tree. I guess in writing a story there is an art to representing both an action-oriented side to your story and an emotion-driven undercurrent.

    • I think you are right. I never looked at it that way but I like it. When I was learning to write my mentors just said, ‘Make it meaningful. Give us details.” Your words ’emotional-driven undercurrent’ makes me feel the rule not know it. Thank you:)

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