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Family poet inspired grandson the journalist

Having what I write read and enjoyed by others delivers tremendous satisfaction, leaving this young journalist with a real sense of accomplishment.

Having what I write read and enjoyed by others delivers tremendous satisfaction, leaving this young journalist with a real sense of accomplishment.


The feelings I've experienced in my short time as a rookie reporter with Northern Life are now mutual ones I can now share with my Nana, one that has brought us closer, especially this Mother's Day.

For nearly a decade, Rhona Thompson, a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, expressed her thoughts, memories and reflections on life and family through poetry, compiling what she guesses must be at least a couple hundred pieces.

During this time, she gathered her poems and published a pair of books, each with a number of revised editions, on spirituality and nature,  her two dominant themes and sources of inspiration when she puts pen to paper.

While her books did sell, Rhona gave most of them away. She gave them to family and friends, many who she hadn't seen in years, who came to visit her while she fought through two bouts of breast cancer.

First diagnosed in 1985, her illness helped light a creative fuse that fueled her poetry. It also made her realize she wanted to have something that would last, something that people would remember her for.

"I think all of these are thoughts I've had over the years but never put them down on paper and suddenly I felt I had to," she explained.

Rhona said the best part about putting her poetry into books was  feedback she would get from her readers, whether they were a close friend or a complete stranger.

She enjoyed knowing what she poured from her soul was being enjoyed by others.

"It seemed to satisfy me when somebody got something out of a poem that I wrote," she said.

"Whenever someone said, 'I really like your poem,' it really made me feel good.

"They all appreciated them and they were so surprised that I could write poetry because it wasn't a talent I had when I was younger."

A loving mother, Rhona's first poem was, ironically enough, called Grandchildren. She still has a framed copy hanging inside her home.

I think most of her grandchildren have received a birthday card from Nana and Grandpa many years ago with that poem jotted on the inside.

The inspiration for Grandchildren came while relaxing on a houseboat on Lake Nipissing with a pair of her grandkids, though she can't recall which ones, on board for a visit.

"The next morning I wrote this poem," she said. "From then on, anything that touched my heart I'd write a poem about it...sometimes it would take me two or three days to finish one, but I enjoyed doing it."

Without thinking about it, inspiration struck more and more often, compelling her to get her poetic thoughts down on paper.

"I remember the day I wrote Spring Song, I was sitting and looking out the window and it was a day when spring was coming, but it was still like winter outside," she said.

"Anything like that would get me going and I'd write something."

A sunset, a piece of music, the houseboat or even a bed-side visit from a friend in the hospital were all inspirations to write.

"When I look at them now, I think I sure didn't have much on my mind other than writing poetry," she laughs.

Although she doesn't write poems anymore, citing her health and an unwillingness to repeat herself, Rhona is grateful for her fleeting talent.

"I sat out on the deck and I tried to think of something that I hadn't written about and there just wasn't anything," she said. "I think I wrote about everything that moved me or touched my heart so there was no point in writing another Spring Song or Winter Wondering.

"I'm just so glad that I had that gift for a while."

So am I.

Jason Thompson is a reporter at Northern Life. He is responsible for much of the content on  He graduated from the journalism program at Durham College last year.


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