Moxie was Julie Barns’s middle name. Ok, it wasn’t but it should have been. She had courage determination and perseverance in spades. It was reflected in the characters she wrote about. The women were feisty, strong, skilled and fought with elegance and style standing for what was right without faltering.
To be honest, she’d patterned the heroin in her stories after her grandmother – Fanny River, a tiny woman, not even five feet tall and weighing little more than a feather, with periwinkle blue eyes and stark white hair. She’d stare down the devil himself.
Her sense of humour was next to none – quick, snappy, on target and had you doubled up with laughter or nearly rolling on the floor while tears cascaded down your cheeks. Sometimes because her choice of words was irreverent and sometimes because the message belayed the innocence in them.
If you needed a pep talk or someone to listen, she was there and in your corner, but always with honesty. If she thought you were being a horses ass, she’d tell you so, straight out. However, if you’d drawn the short straw, and the situation was stacked against you, she’d pick up the mantle and fight along side you to the bitter end.
She’d often regaled them (but only when asked) about her life and what sort of changes she’d witnessed. Her favourite memory was the horse-drawn covered wagon that had delivered glass jars of milk. She’d race to the window to watch the driver slow the horses in front of the house and carefully store whatever they’d ordered and bring it to the house. He’d always give a wave before leaving. Then the fateful day came when her mother suggested they all run to the window because it was the last time for milk delivery. People were buying in stores and there was no longer a need for delivery so it went the way of the dodo. It was one memory, one loss that really meant something to her. She could never explain why, but in her heart of hearts, she instinctively knew it signalled other changes that were to come, some more profound than others.
She recalled the day they got their first black and white t.v. how crystal clear the pictures were and what a novelty it had been. The television lasted until she was 18 and the only reason it had been replaced was that it wasn’t possible to obtain the proper tubes anymore. She’d commented on how it brought the world to you, larger than life full of drama intrigue heroes and villains. She understood it’s draw.
Granny River never wasted anything. As far as she was concerned, if it was in good shape, worked well, it wasn’t replaced. She was horrified when she saw people throw perfectly acceptable appliances in the garbage simply because they weren’t modern enough or a change of colour was wanted. Such waste disturbed her greatly.
The one change she readily accepted without hesitation was the tablet. How she loved the immediacy of it and could hold and move it around with her, taking it from room to room and she could watch movies on it which delighted her no end. She often smiled at the “talking telephone” something that had been touted as a possibility when she was a child. Then it had become a reality.
Gramma River was indeed the star of the show. Her recollections of the past present and her take on what the future might hold were astonishingly true and accurate.
Of all the kids, Julie was the one most often found sitting at her knee reading or sharing stories with her. She would curl her hair for her, polish her nails, and trade stories of her own her grandmother enjoyed hearing. They were two peas in a pod and Julie missed her.
Staring out across the vast expanse of glistening beach, she recalled their last day together. They’d taken a picnic lunch to the park and sat in the shade of massive old willow trees eating lunch together listening to music on the cell phone. She loved music, all kinds with an eclectic taste that startled most people. She would sit and bop to the oldies she’d grown up with, from jazz legends Armstrong to Elvis to Maroon 5. She loved music and because of that unmitigated enjoyment, had fostered a deep love in Julie. As she listened to the late great Louis Armstrong, she grinned as memories of time spent with Gramma Rivers flowed freely with humour and tenderness.
Indeed, her grandmother had moxie, fire, humour, and passion; a force to be re conned with, and she was proud to follow in he footsteps.