As if inspired by the same creative spirit that determined her life, we instituted the Rite of Three Fires when we came together to talk, laugh, and cry about our beloved sister, aunt, and friend, Phranny Read, on Saturday, July 16, 2022, in the pocket of the bluff at Fair Haven, where the ancient ritual of the family picnic was first celebrated, sometime around 51 BC.
Our handsome group included both kinds of eaters, those who chew from back to front and those who don’t, meaning discrete grills for each, and then a third fireplace where we burned our handwritten Phranny Wishes, for their scattering throughout the universe.
Lissy came from California, a state blessed by decades of Phran’s residency, and brought items of Phran’s jewelry for us to take home; arranged here alongside the notepad we wrote our wishes on. Caitlin chose the notepad, which bears this motto, “Build longer tables, not higher walls.” Perfect for anything Phran-related!
The old photograph is the memorial card, with the latest version of a poem begun in the wake of Martha’s oh-so-early departure ten years ago this August.
We are born apart,
then grow together
in the midst of family –
Who die one by one,
while mists of memory
remain to raise us up.
1951 Phranny Read 2022
The photo depicts the bond between Phranny and Martha that makes the rest of us look like extras, there to provide a frame for their beautiful portrait!
Here is random sample of photos that feature our beloved blond bombshell, Phranny Read:
And now an earlier poem, which may, by now, seem like an after thought!
We don’t bid our dead Godspeed to the afterlife
the way we did, in churches, where weeping echoes
off walls or gets absorbed by pipe organ blasts,
while incense spirals from an acolyte’s censer,
and the minister intones his woeful sound.
After we lowered our dearly departed into the ground,
back at the church hall there would be baked ham,
casseroles, and pies, supplied by neighbors and aunts.
Today, in function rooms, where event planners
have laid out aromatherapy diffusers and flowers,
we get right on with the afterparty and mingle,
nibbling fruit, veggies, and tiramisu, while a playlist,
synced to a slideshow, loops in the background.