Busy Bees Salute

To be ten, is to be at the crest of a wave
the best of your days have led up to this height
where the view of the future is open and brave
and you’ve grown past your fear of the night.

These young girls, in their tender years
already wise, for their fathers survived the great war
knew the value of work, no handwringing nor tears
when the cannons went roaring once more.

So they knit and they sewed, and they gathered and packed
and sent off to the soldier boys gone
little pieces of home, and in this simple act
forged the links of a life friendship’s bond.

Busy Bees grew to queens, each a hive of her own
forging lives full of triumphs and care
through the years, stayed in touch with these friends who had known
this same childhood mission to share.

In the changes of time, in the fortunes and fall
they have come to their elder time now
unsung, for their girlish response to the call
yet upheld by their long honoured vow.

If a poet may venture to fashion and give
now a paean to those who bring grace in this world
let the Busy Bees’ vow and their childhood deeds live
as a testament to the small valours of girls.

In these valours, these deeds, and the lives that they touch
like the dancing of bees, who turn flower to fruit
may we all know, the small works can matter as much
as the grand. So I say, as a poet, whose words must tell truth.

 

When my mother-in-law Joan was a girl, she and some friends committed to make and send care packages to soldiers in World War II. They called themselves the Busy Bees. Remarkably, though their life’s paths led them far and wide, they never let go the threads of connection woven by that enterprise.

Today, in their 80s, they are gathering, from great distances, to share food and fellowship at Joan’s home in Mississauga. In the stories she tells me of them, and by the example of her own life of adventure, engagement and worthwhile work, it is clear that this little band of girls learned early to do what you can, as you can, when and where you can. What’s more powerful than that? Here’s to the Busy Bees, and all the girls out there, even now, making and doing and daring, and so setting in motion generations more of positive change. We will always need Bees.

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