Tag Archives: friendship

Six Days Into The New Year, How It’s Going So Far

Standard

Image

I want to be on top of it this year.

I don’t want to look back and wonder.

I know 2011 was a difficult year.

It wasn’t all bad, but it held some of the hardest times I’ve ever experienced.

Living through it, and being able to continue on, was the best part.

Going into 2012, I was filled with optimism. I was glad to put that old, sad year behind me. 2012 was going to be a good year!

Chinese New Year followed shortly after. The Year of the Dragon! I was born in the year of the dragon, considered the most powerful sign in the Chinese calendar. That had to be a good sign, right? The year of the dragon would be a wonderful year for me.

In August, I turned sixty. 60! I’ve always loved those round numbers! This has to be good…doesn’t it? “This year, aged sixty, will be my best year yet”, I told myself.

Over and over, as things seemed to turn from bad to worse, uglier and uglier, I said, with less and less enthusiasm, “My best year yet!”

I will not bother with the details. I experienced job troubles and money problems. There were difficult encounters and lost friendships. Illness and death, both human and canine. Car trouble and lawn mower trouble. A roof that was leaking buckets-full…through the new attic insulation…pouring out through the light fixture in the laundry room…ruining the floor. And on, and on.

I’ve thought, perhaps, I’m just focusing on the negative.

No, I think the opposite is actually true.

But I wasn’t wearing blinders, either. I experienced the bad as well as the good.

2012 is behind me. It wasn’t the worst, but it fell far short of my expectations for it.

February 10th will mark the beginning of the Year of the Snake in the Chinese calendar. The dragon was not particularly good to me.

Come August, I’ll be back in those other pesky numbers, with five years before another round number in my age. Sixty hasn’t been the worst, but so far it has quite a way to go before it could be considered my best year yet.

I’m not going to put so much pressure on 2013.

This doesn’t have to be the best.

This year, I will have no expectations.

The year will unfold.

I’ll deal with the rough times.

I’ll enjoy the good times.

I will laugh as much as possible.

Just like last year.

Six days in, it’s going okay so far.

Transitions and Old Memories

Standard

Image

This  card came back to me recently, with a handful of old photographs.

I made it for my grandmother, Grandma Florence, about thirty-five years ago. She had been ill, and was just coming home from the hospital in mid-February. The front of the card had a poem I’d written:

We searched the stores through and through

To find a Valentine for you.

We found “I love you”s and “Please be Mine”s

But they just don’t make “Get Well” Valentines,

And none of them said what we wanted to say

So we decided to tell you in a different way…

And there, inside the card, is my little family, arms outstretched, offering a big hug.

My little family.

I don’t think anyone embarks on the adventure of a marriage, ever imagining it will end.

We don’t have children imagining them hundreds or thousands of miles away, with troubles and difficulties you can’t simply fix with a kiss or a band-aid.

We don’t form friendships thinking of the end of those bonds.

We don’t take in dogs or cats or even short-lived gerbils imagining their demise.

Endings always take us by surprise.

If we knew the pain of change, transition, death…or, knowing it, if we allowed ourselves to dwell on it, I think we’d never allow ourselves the joy of new beginnings.

Linda

Standard

Image

The people we count as friends, as adults, seem to reflect some version of ourselves or our lives.

Maybe political viewpoints differ, but we attend the same church, or our children are in the same class. Maybe our ages and those of our children are vastly different, but we support the same cause, or work for the same organization. Maybe our husbands are good friends. Or next door neighbors. There’s something there that we can relate to.

The people we choose as friends, as children, don’t reflect who we are, but show us who we can be.

I am fortunate to count my best friend, Linda, in both of these categories.

We have been friends for close to fifty years.

It’s amazing to me that I have so few photographs of Linda and I together.

There are a couple grade-school snapshots and an eighth-grade graduation picture. There is a distant shot of the two of us in our caps and gowns at the “Swing-Out” parade, the year we graduated from high school. One – in caps and gowns again – when we graduated college, and one group shot at a dinner party when I got my Master’s Degree. There is the photo, shown here, when we met in Charlevoix for a weekend of shopping and catching up, one taken of us together here on Beaver Island, and one group shot taken at her father’s eightieth birthday party.

That’s just about it.

Yet images of Linda run through my memories of most of my life.

I remember whispering and passing notes, staying over-night, doing whirling ballerina dances in undershirts and petticoats, walking holding hands, playing with “Barbie” dolls, buying penny candy, eating lunch under the bridge, and Linda’s perfect Yogi Bear imitation. Together we giggled about whatever we could find out about the mysteries of adulthood, compared our bodies, our first brassieres and the best means to pad them. We experimented with make-up and hair-styles. We compared notes on shaving legs and plucking eyebrows. We fell in love with the Beach Boys, then Fabian, then the Beatles. We watched horror films hosted by “Christopher Coffin” until I cried and begged for mercy. We read all the “MAD” magazines. We followed dance styles: the “Swim”, the “Frug” and the “Watusi”…Linda could do them all. We went from our little parochial school into the large, public high school with equal parts fear and excitement. A new world of boys and acting out opened up to us: drive-ins and parties and double-dates, experiments with smoking and drinking and skipping school…we made it through, as best friends, into adulthood.

Linda was the maid of honor at my wedding; I was the maid of honor at hers. We had children. We learned the joys and challenges of parenthood, comparing notes as our babies played together. We struggled with poverty, isolation and other limitations of marriage that we hadn’t anticipated. We read. We took a couple night classes together. We started getting interested in causes. We went back to school. When Linda and her husband separated, he came to sleep on my couch, until he could get his own place. Twelve years later, when my husband and I started divorce proceedings, he went to sleep on Linda’s couch. When Linda’s Mom died, I took off work and headed across the state to be with her. When my Mom was dying, Linda was right there beside us, a part of our family.

These are the ways our lives have intersected, always.

I remember Linda’s big smile and shy “hello” on the first day of school in Sister Aloysius’s sixth-grade classroom. She had transferred from another school. From sixth-grade to nearly sixty, she has been¬† there! I can’t imagine the person I would have become without Linda as a part of my life.

Saturday, my dearest friend turns sixty.

Happy Birthday, Linda!