Channeling Fran

It’s hard to believe that it’s been less than two months since Eliza and Bill died, and now Fran as well. Fran was my great-aunt, my Dad’s aunt, my grandfather’s sister. She was a tenacious woman – always said what was on her mind. Good, bad, or shocking. So today, I’m going to channel Fran, her tenacity, and her honesty. Prepare yourselves.

Of course, as with many of my great aunts and uncles, I didn’t know Fran as well as I should have. Her death on the morning of my 30th birthday left me with mixed emotions. Again, I feel like missed out on a bonding experience with my family by not being able to attend the funeral services. On the flip side, the times I’ve gone out of my way – taken days off of work, rearranged my schedule, spent money I really shouldn’t have – to be there for family occasions, it felt like…I’m not really sure how to put this in a non-offensive manner…a waste. Why? Well, mainly because the family would awkwardly attempt small talk and/or simply stare at the T.V. for hours after gorging on a home-cooked meal until it was time to depart.

Every time, and I mean every. single. time., I would put the big family event up on a pedestal of being a memory-making, fun, and joyful time together to reconnect, laugh, and bond. As a kid, family get-togethers were great! Always exciting and filled with adventure. Now, those things are missing. How do you bring it back?

I honestly think it’s a matter of sharing life experiences more often and being real with the fam that would get the fun rolling again. Doing more than simply staying in touch and keeping up to date on what’s going on in each other’s lives. To be there to be supportive of each other on a consistent basis – NOT just the three to six times a year during special occasions. In a lot of ways, it feels like I’m a stranger in my own family. I guess that’ll happen when you’re 2,000 miles away from home. Although, that was still happening when I was in Wisconsin.

That said, a not-so-small part of me embraces the idea of moving back to my home town of Pine City, Minnesota, in a few years. My family is primarily scattered from the Twin Cities to Duluth. Pine City happens to be smack in the middle, along with my parents, cousins, and grade school friends. I like the idea of putting down roots where my ancestors did and continuing to build, remember, and embrace the Carlson name. I like the idea of really KNOWING, ENJOYING, and SHARING LIFE with my family, my cousins, my aunts and uncles. Of driving down the same roads. Of being able to have an impromptu family dinner.

In my forties and fifties I have this vision of myself being matriarch of the family. And I’m talking the whole entire family – each of my grandparents’ families on down the line. I envision ginormous family reunions, joyfully keeping in touch with everyone – cousins, aunts, uncles, EVERYONE and building up the family archives. I’m not saying bigger is better when it comes to family – I’m saying closer is better. No doubt about it, I am absolutely envious of close-knit families – and for those of you who are part of such families, I know that you cherish what you have.

Ah, so much to ponder…

But, between now and then, I’m going to enjoy the Arizona sun, my fabulous husband and our pups, and my work. And Fran…much love. You’re one of a kind and your tenacious spirit brings a smile to my face – every time.

Frances Victoria Olson

April 17, 1915 – October 3, 2011


Frances Victoria Olson of Rush City, Minnesota, age 96, died Monday October 3, 2011 at Cambridge Medical Center.

Frances was born April 17, 1915 to Frank and Emma (Valleen) Carlson in their rural Rush City home.  She attended the Peers School through eighth grade and graduated from Rush City High School in 1932.  She then lived on the home farm, cooking, gardening and housekeeping.

In 1944, she started dating Donald Olson, a family friend who was working on the Carlson farm. Fran and Don were married June 16, 1946 at First Lutheran Church in Rush City.  To this union three daughters were born.

In 1948 Frances and Donald purchased a farm south of Rush City, where they farmed and resided for the rest of their lives.

Fran was a lifelong member of First Lutheran Church of Rush City, where she taught Sunday school and was an active member of the Lutheran Church Women.

She was a longtime member of the Brickyard Women’s Club.  She also served as a 4-H leader for many years.  In her later years she was a founding and active member of the Rush City Garden Club.

Fran and Don enjoyed traveling to visit relatives in other parts of the country.  They also went to London and Hawaii, and made many winter trips to Florida.

Fran loved gardening and spent many evening hours tending her flower and vegetable gardens.  She especially loved growing roses and she maintained an extensive collection of African violets.

Frances was preceded in death by her husband, Donald; her parents, Frank and Emma Carlson; sister, Irma Nelson; and brother, Amos Carlson.

She is survived by her daughters:  Karen (Leonard) Bennett of LaCrescent, Minnesota; Barbara Olson of Rockford, Illinois; and Marlys Olson of Rush City, Minnesota; grandchildren Erica Bennett of Minneapolis; Kristin (Trevor) Boettcher of Houston, Minnesota; and Mark  (fiancée Amanda Myhre) Bennett of Caledonia, Minnesota; and great-granddaughter Madelyn Victoria Boettcher; nephews John (Linda) Carlson of Stanchfield, Minnesota, Mark (Jane) Carlson of Pine City, Minnesota, and Bruce (Barb) Carlson of Rush City, Minnesota.

A funeral service was held on Friday, October 7, at the First Lutheran Church of Rush City with the Rev Laurie O’Shea officiating.  Music was provided by Mary Kay O’Neill, organist; Del Rae Head, soloist; Erica Bennett and Kristin Boettcher, flute.

Casket bearers were Mark Bennett, John Carlson, Mark Carlson, Bruce Carlson, Trevor Boettcher and John McShannock.  Interment was in the First Lutheran Cemetery in Rush City with the Rev. Beverly Robinson providing a graveside committal service.

Arrangements were entrusted to the Funeral and Cremation Service-Olson Chapel of Rush City.

About Sara

Sara Hefty (B.B.A. and H.H.C.) teaches workaholic women how to have it all and flourish without burning out, binging or being spiteful. As an expert in transformational health coaching, she holds women accountable for letting go of unwanted weight, being brilliantly nourished, grounded in truth and feeling confident, happy and playful every single day.

As a woman with her own weight loss story, wide-ranging family heritage of cancer, and a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Sara’s appreciation for convenient nutrient-dense food, personal growth, inspiring design, financial responsibility, and social entrepreneurship led to her “Pursuit of Ownership: Health, Home, and Legacy” model of heart-on-fire-hot empowered living.

Sara is the founder of PROJECT LUX and She currently lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, with her husband Brian and hound-dog Raja.