Frank Plummer died on Monday, but I didn’t hear about it until today when I happened to read it on Miss Misse’s blog. She didn’t use his last name, but I felt the shock of recognition about halfway through her post. I searched the obit archives at the Ottawa Citizen, and found it.
Frank Plummer, just 40 years old, so completely alive and then suddenly so shockingly dead. The funeral had already started when I learned of his death, so I dropped everything and ran to the funeral home. I joined the crowd, which was bigger than the chapel. Standing room only, spilling out into the lobby. Peter saw me right away and gave me a big hug, which made me feel both better and worse at the same time. I stood and listened to the steady stream of eulogies, some funny, all touching. So many wonderful Frank stories.
I can’t remember the first time I met Frank, but I feel like I’ve always known him. I think we might have first met when he was a bartender at Irene’s Pub, twenty years ago or so.
If you live in Ottawa, you’ve almost certainly seen him: he had 30 pounds of dreadlocks down to his waist, a genuinely infectious smile, a big warm laugh, and an absolutely natural and engaging way with people. He included everybody and he made everybody around him feel good.
Frank was a bartender, a knitter, a runner, a bike courier, a contractor, and much, much more. I used to run into him all the time when he was a bike courier, but I hadn’t seen him for quite awhile. I was thinking about him just the other day.
My son adored Frank. Frank used to come and get Jamie when Jamie was a little boy, and they’d go play for a couple of hours. One day I asked Jamie where they’d gone and what they did, and he said “We walked right up Bank Street and said “hubba hubba” to all the pretty girls.” My feminist sensibilities kicked that around a bit, but then I realized if there were any two males on the planet who could make this seem charming, even to pretty girls, it was Frank and Jamie.
I remember the Mother’s Day when Jamie was about five and he woke me up at dawn and thrust a gift into my hands. “Open it!” he said, “Open it, it’s from me, it’s a present, it’s for Mother’s Day, open it!”
I opened it: it was a gaudy purple and gold sparkly scarf, something only a five-year-old would find exquisitely beautiful. My little boy was so thrilled to be giving me this decadent store-bought gift. I had no idea where it had come from. It turned out Frank had taken him out shopping to buy me a Mothers Day gift a few days earlier. I was so touched by that: touched that Frank had thought to do that for Jamie and for me, touched by Jamie’s taste, and touched that he managed to keep it a secret for days. I still treasure that scarf.
Another time Frank and Jamie got a foster child in a third world country through World Vision. Frank made the payments and Jamie handled all the correspondence. (I think they ran out of money and steam after a few months, but they were totally committed for a bit.)
Jamie named his first budgie Frank. That’s the ultimate compliment, when a child names their pet after you. Frank was worthy of a child’s highest compliment.
I knew both Frank and his wife Joey before they knew each other. I remember when Joey had a crush on Frank, but it took him forever to realize it, probably because he was so used to everybody loving him. Joey wasn’t about to throw herself at him, and hints didn’t seem to be working. I can’t remember how she finally managed to convey to him that she was interested in him romantically, but eventually he got the message, and a romance was born. And then two little girls were born.
The only time I saw Frank looking miserable was in the hospital when Joey was in labour with their first child, Thea. He was having a very hard time watching Joey suffer through labour. I was in the waiting room, and Frank kept running back and forth between the labour room and the bathroom. It’s the only time I ever saw a black man look green.
His littlest girl, Sophie, played violin at his funeral. Those of us who were barely holding ourselves together lost it at that point.
It was a sad funeral, but it was a glowing tribute to a life well lived. Frank knew how to live. He knew what was important. He knew how to have fun. He knew how to love. He knew how to be happy and how to share his happiness. He lived his life with joy. It all seemed so instinctive for him. This world is a better place because Frank Plummer was in it. I feel so lucky to have known him, but heartbroken that he’s gone.
Rest in peace Frank.
From the blackboard at Irene’s Pub in the Glebe:
I found a few other mentions of Frank’s passing in the blogosphere:
- To Frank, a friend to all (Rejean Demers)
- Frank Plummer (Juice)
- This week we lost an amazing member of our community (Miss Misse)
- Today was a day full of so much (Miss Misse, second post)
- My friend Frank Plummer, Master of All Trades… (Boyce’s Paper)