We said goodbye to our dear Meme this past Sunday. I will forever feel grateful and fortunate that I was present to share in her passing, it was truly one of the most beautiful moments of my life. I have never been witness to someone leaving our world, a true blessing.
Surrounded and literally enveloped by her children and grandchildren, our dearest Meme went on to her next adventure this past Sunday, March 1st. She had been terribly ill trying her dammdest to recover from major surgery and was not ready to give up until that very last day. She looked me right in the eye, just the day before, recognizing me and calling me by my name, then pin-pointedly letting me know that she wasn’t able to do it. I have to love and cherish that maybe more than anything about my grandmother. She had such a fierce determination, will and spirit, she needed us to know that she tried as hard as she could and this one wasn’t going to take. If it was left to her, in strong and sound mind, there would be no contest. I don’t believe I know a soul as strong as my grandmother but at 90, her body was ready for another adventure. I truly believe that seeing us all there with her helped her come to terms with that reality so that she may move on.
The power of music however, cannot be denied. My cousins had the brilliant idea of playing her a little Frank Sinatra at her bedside, on the last day of her life as she struggled with each labored breath. The minute she heard the music, she opened her eyes for the last time, and soon began to ease into her last breaths. Always a fan of dancing to her favorite Big Band Era tunes, I think this was just what she needed. We immediately enveloped her in words of love, kisses and hugs, sending her off to her next dance. I’ll never be ready to really let go of her, she was our matriarch, our fearless leader, but I know we all take great peace and are grateful for her loving sendoff and the 90 years that she graced our world. Thank you for your love, dear grandmother. Thank you for teaching me to look at the world with an artist’s eye and thank you for showing us the importance of living life with a heart full of happiness, love, energy, excitement and a wild spirit. I love you.
Frances Chapman Thomson’s Obit, as printed in the Abilene News Reporter:
Frances Thomson 1924-2015
Frances Chapman Thomson, a longtime Abilene resident, local artist and beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother passed away on Sunday March 1st. She was 90 years old.
Born on October 10, 1924 in her family’s farmhouse in Haskell, Texas to parents Hallie Elmer and Tillie Pearl Chapman, she grew up with her sister Mildred in the West Texas town. As a child, Fran, as her loved ones and friends called her, loved riding her horse Dolly the two miles everyday to and from grade school, and sang alto alongside her father in a local Gospel singing group. Frances went on to become Lead Majorette and Halloween Queen at Haskell High- where as a sophomore, she met the love of her life, Joseph Edward Thomson. She and Joe married in Duncan, Oklahoma on July 2, 1944.
Frances and Joseph traveled across the States during Joe’s service in the U.S. Navy, her favorite spots being Jacksonville Beach and Hollywood, where they loved to dance and dine at Ciro’s and The Brown Derby. After the war, they moved to Abilene where they settled to have a family and run their business. Frances later worked as the Secretary to the Principal at Cooper High School, and in her retirement years enjoyed life as an accomplished painter, traveler, avid bridge player and lover of life, family and friends.
Frances is survived by her children Craig Thomson, Cheryl Huey, Carol Davis and Charles Thomson, her grandchildren Brian, Kelly, Tracy, Ashleigh, Mandy, Ben, Brett, Colby and Paxton, and great-grandchildren Bradlee, Peysley, Taylor, Kalia, Kai, Jake, Georgina and Thomson.
Meme’s art studio desk just as she left it. I wonder what she was mixing her palette for next?
My father-in-law, Jacques d’Amboise, wrote a beautiful little poem in memoriam to her passing:
Life flows, Leaves fall,
And you know its time to say,
“I love all of you.”
We will never really be ready to let her go and we don’t have to. She lives on in our hearts, so much to celebrate and remember. It has been one of the great honors of my life to celebrate her this past week with my dearest family. I love you all.
Cheers Meme- to a life well lived.