Frances I, II, and III

Surrounded by sorting and packing chaos, three stuffed replicas of Frances sit on my worktable. They seem less disturbed by the activity than the real Frances would have been.

Each has a red felt heart on its back side, embroidered with the initials of Lady Baby, Sweet Baby, or Baby Brother. Soon I’ll pack up the stuffies to mail, along with a little note explaining that Frances is gone. She wasn’t friendly to the children, but she was important.

Each Frances is slightly different and wrong in its own way. They looked like her in the paper pattern, but lost resemblance in the stuffing. Little muslin bags of beans weigh them down, so they sit easily, but their floss whiskers sag, and they look disapproving and slightly strange – not cuddly (maybe that’s lifelike). I tell myself the imperfections matter less than their existence.

I’m leery of that impulse, said to grow stronger as we age, to let ideas die, to fail to push against resistance and stalling and overcome inertia. Making these three became important to me as a memorial – the figuring out and stitching were an occasional escape from the tasks at hand, the handwork therapeutic – but also as proof of follow through (at least this time).

The trio stares at me – or past me – multiple reminders of Frances and of making. I like to think of them joining the other beloved stuffed animals with names and history – but I’ll miss them!


9 thoughts on “Frances I, II, and III

    • So true. And every time I pack a box and stack it up, I think about how unhappy all this process of moving to a new place would have made Frances. We still see her all over the house! Thanks for writing Jana.

  1. Frances becomes a dear companion in your sewing memorial to her. I love the whimsy of her ears and eyes, the slightly lopsided list of a bean bag base. She seems ready in this reincarnation to be cuddled and loved, transforming again into a “Velveteen” cat.

      • How we miss our furred family. A metal artist at Blue River makes whimsical cats that very much capture the spirit of many different ones. We bought two, one for our Big Kitty grave…head and tail mounted on separate posts so this cat be positioned many ways and another tall and regal like our recently lost Bozeman. We haven’t scattered his ashes yet as the weather has been erratic. I want a sunny day. One of his favorite places for sunny was on the garden shed porch so we have put the metal cat there.

  2. I have rarely ever seen you not follow through, bu,t as I well know, sometimes it’s a struggle to do so. I’m so glad your Frances “stuffies,” (as my kids used to call them) came into being. These three kitties have such a presence. I’m sure they’ll be loved and cuddled and inspire conversations about a special and memorable black and white cat.

    • Thank you Carol, it is a worthwhile struggle as you also know so well. I do love to think of the Franceses being part of the stuffed crew – “Oh that’s Frances.”

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