MARQUETTE - Writer Dixie Franklin might not have been born a Yooper but her love for this area, honed over decades of living here, makes the Upper Peninsula her home.
While Franklin is technically retired, she hasn't slowed down. Her latest project, done through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Marquette County, aims to help her neighbors learn more about hospices.
Longtime freelance writer Franklin - who has won numerous awards and been published in magazines like National Geographic - spoke at a recent meeting of the Seniors Providers Network about the 56-page book that has been published to serve as a guide to those seeking information about hospice.
Dixie Franklin, well known freelance writer, talks to the Seniors Providers Network about her new book about hospice, “Another Way.” Franklin wrote the book under the auspices of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Marquette County. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)
"I am so glad to be here," Franklin told the group. "I am so glad something we've talked about for so long has finally happened."
The book Franklin wrote, "Another Way: Hospices of Marquette County," tells the stories of a number of local residents about their experience with hospice. It provides information about hospice services offered in the area.
Franklin had retired from freelancing, but wanted to still contribute to her community as a volunteer and sought out RSVP.
"I was trying to fit myself into some of their offerings. Then I found something else to do," she said, holding up the book.
Franklin said she estimated it would take about three months for her to write the book as that's the length of time she spent on a tome about the entire state of Michigan.
"Ten months later, here we are," she said with a boisterous laugh. "I have had babies in less time than that.
"I had quite an education waiting for me," Franklin said. "I learned a lot."
Franklin said the people she interviewed made writing the book a special experience.
"These are my heroes. Without them, there'd be nothing to say," she said. "I am a journalist. There's no health degree after my name. They made this possible."
Sometimes, Franklin said, she questioned why she could be writing about hospice when she had no experience with it.
"But then I thought about it. I covered the prison riots in the 1980s for The Detroit News," she said. "And I didn't have any experience in prisons. I just stayed out of the story."
Balancing presenting the complete information while guarding the privacy of those involved was something she strove to achieve.
"Some were reluctant to talk," she said. "And I appreciate those who did."
The audience at the providers network meeting was thrilled with the final product.
"I read it cover to cover," said Lori Stephens-Brown, AMCAB Community Nutrition Services Director. "It was very interesting. I laughed reading some stories. I cried reading others. It truly gives a better understanding of what hospice does.
"I can't wait to read it again."
Published through Globe Printing in Ishpeming, the book's next step is getting it into the hands of folks who need it.
"I had hoped there would be some way of offering this to the public for free," Franklin said. "The people in need of hospice are the people I'd like to reach with this."
The books, for now, are being sold for $7. But if benefactors come forward to help defray the costs of printing the work, which Franklin did as a volunteer, the books could be given to families facing decisions about a loved one's health challenges.
Anyone who'd like to contribute toward the distribution of "Another Way" can send a check or money order to the RVSP office, 215 W. Hematite Drive, Ishpeming, MI 49849.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.