Women Getting Shit Done - Frankie Nash Ouellette


Like most little girls, I was super into my mom.  I'd dress up in her clothes, I'd smell her perfumes and play with her jewelry. Don't get me wrong, I was a total poppy's girl (my dear departed grandfather) but I thought my mom was the coolest gal around.

I can remember when my mom would be getting ready for work, and she'd artfully arrange scarves in complicated but beautiful ways and don her signature hoop earrings.  She was so fashionable and was always impeccable.  She would spend hours setting my hair in rollers while we watched "The Cosby Show", "Cheers" and "Night Court".  She was an attentive and loving mother.

When I was 9 my family moved from our small town in Newfoundland to a slightly larger, small town in Alberta.  Our new town had traffic lights, a rec centre and a single cinema theatre.  I thought we were living in a bustling metropolis.  With the world as our oyster, we thought that we were going to be afforded every opportunity life had to offer.  Unfortunately, just over a year later, my young parents split.  While it seemed that my mom had "made out like a bandit" in the split, getting not only me but the townhouse they had purchased and the new-to-us car in the deal.  Her employment was precarious, the car a shit box, the mortgage a heavy financial burden and a kid that was growing out of her clothes as fast as she could buy them.  Instead of packing us up and heading back to Newfoundland where we had family and security, my mom doubled down and picked up more jobs and juggled bill payments.  I didn't have everything other kids had but I didn't know any better.

I was a busy kid and my mom schlepped me from swimming lessons to baby-sitting gigs to drama club.  I know it wasn't easy but she did it without complaint.  A couple of times a year she would take us to Jasper Park Lodge as a treat.  She'd request a specific cabin with a view of the pool.  She could sit in her robe, enjoying her coffee and see her water rat daughter in the pool.  It was a perfect night away for both of us.  Those weekends hold a special place in my heart.

As I moved into my teenaged years, my mom pushed me to keep up with my hobbies as the teen-lassitude started to set in.  I just wanted to be a moody, broody teenager, burning candles and incense in my room, writing bad poetry while listening to angsty music.  She pushed me to open doors for myself and to set myself up with future options.  She really knew what was best and wasn't going to let me waste my talents.  I'm not sure I ever thanked her for that.

While I was not a bad kid, I definitely was not a model child either and bless my mom's cotton socks, she loved me even when she probably wanted to strangle me.

As I moved into adulthood my relationship with my mom changed.  While we still have a mother-daughter relationship we're also friends.  When she and my stepfather married (after like 14 years of being together) I had the pleasure of beautifying her for the day.

And then when I wed my lovin hubs, I practically dragged her down the aisle for her to give me away.

My mom has taught me the value of a good work ethic, the importance of generosity and kindness and how to never give up.  We've come a long way from our single parent family days but the lessons my mom painstakingly taught me have provided me with a foundation that I would be nothing without. Now my mom works for her local provincial government, is a member of her town council, has run a successful Bed and Breakfast, has spearheaded many community initiatives and is the rock my entire family has come to depend on. She's everything I can hope to be and more.


19 comments


  • Sherry in Alberta

    What a beautiful thoughtful tribute to your mom. I have always believe your Mom to be a strong determined woman who had the tenacity to not only persevere but fight against injustices against others while commiting herself to your care and welfare. I have the utmost respect for your Mom, you are truly fortunate to have her in your corner !


  • Sherry in Alberta

    What a beautiful thoughtful tribute to your mom. I have always believe your Mom to be a strong determined woman who had the tenacity to not only persevere but fight against injustices against others while commuting herself to your care and welfare. I have the utmost respect for your Mom, you are truly fortunate to have her in your corner ?


  • ALice HAtfield

    Vanessa what a truly beautiful tribute to your Mom ! She is a great person and one of a kind ! You are one lucky girl to have such a great person to call Mom ! Happy Birthday Frankie !


  • Donna Davis

    Vanessa…..a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady whom I’ve known for many years. Your mom always had this inner quality to be the best person she could possibly be and has obviously engrained this quality in you. Aren’t you the lucky one to call her “mom”! Aren’t I the lucky one to call her “friend”!


  • Ruth

    Frankie is a wonderful woman. One of the best I ever worked with (Jasper) in all my years with Parks Canada.


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