Fran Cooke is one wild woman!

Better known to most Barrie library users as the Children’s Librarian, Fran long ago was part of a loosely knitted group called “The Toy Traders”.

We got together when our kids were little, every Wednesday morning, rotating to each other’s homes, to area parks with juice, cookies and a toy to trade. Our kids each selected their sharing toy and brought it to the group and at the end of the morning, each child chose a toy that wasn’t theirs. They’d take it home for the week.

Now this had lots of good elements to it: the kids learned to share, the kids learned how to take care of someone else’s toy, the kids learned how to return things in good condition. And the moms didn’t need to buy so many things because the toys went around the block, so to speak.

And that’s where I met Fran Cooke.

As the kids aged (they’re now all 17-19 years old) the moms drifted into their own lives, into jobs, into school and so on. And Fran went on to volunteer at Barrie Public Library before endearing herself to all who know her and ultimately pilotting the children’s department.

A few years ago Fran (who is the picture of health and fitness) was struck with breast cancer. And with her inimitable spirit, she fought back and became one of the survivor statistics. Her friends celebrated; her library patrons sent positive energy. And her old Toy Traders sent gifts of hope and gratitude.

Last year life gave Fran yet another challenge when cancer surfaced yet again. As she was undergoing specialized treatment in Europe, all the spirit and love of an entire community kicked in.

And Fran kicked back! Her love of life was spirited to the top of the pile and she decided to look illness and “ending” straight in the eye.

She formed the Wild Women Group. Loosely defined, this group of a dozen or so co-workers, close relatives, friends, assembled to talk about their dreams. They shared the things they’ve most wanted to do, but have been held back by life itself... jobs, kids, responsibilities, timetables. They talked about the things that were always future wishes. Fran wanted to sky dive. Someone else wanted to ride a horse. Someone else was interested in circle dancing. Someone else was interested in international food.

And on it went.

So... the Wild Women decided to map our their quests and on a semi-regular basis, meet to fulfill their dreams. And so they are. Evening upon evening, day upon day, they schedule their dreams and head out to fulfill them as a group. On Saturday mornings they walk around Kempenfelt Bay. They celebrate themselves.

And what’s happening as a result?

You can just imagine. The Wild Women are opening closed doors. They’re bringing into the present activities that could be a dream-not-done in the future. They’re pushing the envelope, meeting their fears, making today the most important day of their lives. They’re living out one of life’s most dramatic lessons... if this was the last day you had, how would you want to spend it? They are actualizing themselves.

So, my hat’s off to the Wild Women’s Group. And to a remarkable individual who’s using life’s disadvantage to soar to the top.

Thanks, Fran!

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Fran is my mom and today is her birthday. Was so happy to stumble upon this article. Inspired by her life!

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