Faithful Friends Forever

It’s not too often nowadays you hear of people who were friends as little children, went through school, marriage, family and many years later, are still friends; I mean best friends.  But that’s how it’s been between my BFF and I.  We lived three houses down and one around the corner from each other in a nice little suburban town.  Only two years separated us; we were close as sisters, maybe even closer.  The experiences we have shared throughout our lives will forever leave an imprint on my heart and soul.

Our friendship began when I was five years old.  We played with dolls, rode bicycles and jumped rope together.  We even took sewing lessons together.  There were other neighborhood kids we were friendly with but throughout our early years, the two of us were inseparable.  We were the “girly girls” of our block; always into fashion and flirting.  One of the best times we had was signaling each other with flashlights from our bedroom windows through the trees at night because we could see each other’s rooms.  That was our special sign to say good night to each other.   

Then high school came and we didn’t see as much of each other then because we attended different schools.  Dee graduated two years before me and went on to college, however we still remained friends.  As a matter of fact, even though I was not quite of legal age, we used to spend many Friday and/or Saturday nights out at the clubs in NYC.  We were the “dancing queens” of the Copacabana, Regines and the Playboy Club!  We shared secrets about our loves and dreams and high hopes for the future.

In the late 70’s, we took our first trip to the West Coast together.  Although we previously spent winters skiing in upstate NY or Vermont and summers in the Catskills, this trip was our first major one as independent young women.  We flew to San Francisco, drove down to LA and then flew to Las Vegas for the last leg of our journey.   San Francisco was a blast: driving up and down Lombard Street like two fools – but what fun we had!  The trip to LA was brutal: a large portion of Route 1 along the coast was closed due to mud slides and we got detoured.  It took almost 13 hours for us to finally arrive in LA and our greeting was abysmal.  After we rested a bit, showered and dressed for dinner, we were approached by some jerks wondering if we were “working.”  We had no idea what they meant! Talk about naive.  We had been to clubs in NYC many times before and were never approached like that.  We soon discovered Downtown Hollywood was a dangerous place to take a casual stroll.  But our trip to Disneyland the following day was amazing!

Last stop – the Sahara in Las Vegas where we thought we were so cool because we sunbathed in the nude on our balcony!  OMG, we didn’t even look at each other, we were so modest!  I think back on that and LMAO.  We’ve certainly come a long way since then!  But that’s what’s so wonderful, charming and unique about our friendship.  All through the years, we’ve laughed, cried, argued and loved.  Both of us have been through many trials and tribulations over the past five decades (and I’m only 40! JK) and through it all, we remained loyal friends.

Friendships like our don’t happen too often; people separate after school, marry, have children, divorce, move away, get into ridiculous arguments and never reconcile, etc.  There is something to be said about a friendship that endures.  Friendships last longer than most marriages ~you manage to stay together through thick and thin, highs and lows, happiness and sorrow and everything in between.

Another blessing is that my friend’s mom is still with us.  My mom died suddenly when I was 19 and I more or less “adopted” Mrs. M (or she adopted me…).  We even took a trip to LA and Las Vegas together a couple of years ago, all three of us!  What a blast.  At 92, she still has a passion for the piano.  As a lifelong song-writer, she is proud to have had her music published.  Mrs. M was able to present it in LA when we were at ASCAP; everyone loved speaking with her.  She may be tiny but she’s still quite a pisol! 

 For the past several years, we’ve all gotten together to celebrate another milestone for this remarkable woman.  She has been an inspiration to me, not to mention she cracks some of the funniest jokes.  Now I know where her daughter gets her sense of humor from!

Both are so generous with their time and attention.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.  As a  matter of fact, we’re planning a 35th anniversary to the West Coast celebrating our first vacation, most likely in March or April of 2013.  We’re going to attempt to revisit places we enjoyed in San Francisco and LA then maybe continue to visit family in San Diego.  God willing, we’ll be able to fulfill our dream and enjoy our trip with as much fervor as we did when we were younger.  I’m eager to begin making preparations for this vacation, which is giving me more incentive to keep an eye on the scale.  I wouldn’t want to roll into California where we first sashayed, if you know what I mean!  If our most recent trip to the beach is any indication, I think we’ll be just fine in CA.  (She knows what I mean!)

Life is good; I’m very fortunate.  I hope my BFF and I continue our friendship for many more years.  This is a tough link to break.  I’d compare us to the characters of Lucy and Ethel, however not when they were singing that “Friendship” number; you know the one where they were tearing at each other’s gowns?  Yeah, that’s us – a little crazy, a little tame but always a lady.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
~ William Shakespeare
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It Takes a Family to Warm a Heart and Heal the World

The word “family” reminds me of a beautiful, warm plush fleece blanket I received for Christmas several years ago.   It has come in handy on so many occasions as have they.  Recently, while re-reading The Glenstal Book of Prayer which my eldest brother gave me in 2002, I was once again reminded of the splendor my family possesses and how blessed I am to have them in my life.  I make my comparison of them to the blanket because when I’m not feeling quite right, I can wrap myself up in them (family) and suddenly, everything is good in the world.  If I’m frightened, I can pull them up to my chin and hide beneath their unceasing protection.  Should I feel tired or weak, they help comfort me on the coldest, darkest of days.  When something is amiss or if I feel wronged, they can either be put aside for another day or get refluffed to begin anew.

While this analogy may not be the most creative, it serves a purpose.  It brought me back to my childhood years, which weren’t always as pleasant as I envisioned they were.  After all, why dwell upon situations in your past you can’t change?  I prefer to embrace all the wondrous memories of my youth of which family was an integral part.  The holidays will soon be upon us, in particular Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s which always evoke a warm, loving feeling deep within.  Once again, I look forward to gathering with family; family which has significantly multiplied over the years. 

As the youngest of six children, three each, I was somewhat spoiled.  There is a 16 year age gap between my eldest brother and me.  Closing my eyes, I recall him studying in the room across from mine when he was home from college.  He seemed to always be reading and writing but at the time, I never gave it much thought.  My brother, who hitchhiked his way across Europe during his college years, became an English professor with degrees in engineering and linguistics, to name a few.  Intelligent yet unassuming, he’s extremely down to earth; my father’s son for sure.  I credit him with my love of learning and language.  Many nights, he would take time to read poems and stories to me from the likes of Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allen Poe and T. S. Elliott.  Some of my favorites were “The Jabberwocky”, “The Raven” and “Rhapsody on a Windy Night.”  At the time, I was unaware of the meaning each held, yet I hung on the sound of every word from my brother’s lips, my eyes bright as moons, as he spoke with such emotion and passion:

“`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.” 

Lewis Carroll ~ “The Jabberwocky”

I still shutter every time I read that poem, maybe because it sounds so awesome when I recite it out loud!

Fast forward forty some-odd years; the memories of those glorious evenings consume me.  I can relay countless tales similar to this, where one of my other siblings shared selfless occasions with me.  Family is so precious, a gift to be cherished; a warm, fuzzy blanket that wraps us in eternal love.  Though it may occasionally fray here and there, the threads that bind it will endure forever.  

If wishes came true, my wish would be that the love a family has for one another multiply and extend to all corners of the earth so that some day, maybe one day, we can all live in peace and harmony.

 “I sustain myself with the love of family.” ~ Maya Angelou