As the years passed, we all became even better friends. When I needed something special to wear for a hot date or a dance - she opened her closet for me to choose whatever I wanted. Luckily, we wore the same size clothes, even shoes, and our tastes in jewelry ran in similar veins. As I got older, I stopped babysitting much, but we remained good friends and helpful neighbors.
After college, I left town to pursue life elsewhere, but I always looked forward to returning home to see my parents and the neighbors. Several years later, I got word that they were moving to a larger home in a different section of the city; the area to which they had moved their newly enlarged grocery. I was happy for them, of course, but a bit sad to see them leave since they had been my family's neighbors for so many years. For a few years, we visited them in their new home every time I came back to town, but eventually we drifted apart somewhat, as our lives took different turns. She got pregnant again and had a baby girl just a year before I had my first child. As my parents aged, they didn't initiate much visiting, and so the lines of communication faded, around 1968.
Fast forward to June, 1982: we had just moved into a new home, and I was busy with all the little chores that women have to do to make a house a home, such as hanging pictures, unpacking boxes, etc. My younger daughter wanted me to take her to a local mall, to meet with her friends and their mom, but I didn't want to take the time to go since I was so busy. Finally she wore me down, and I agreed to take her there and wait until the other family arrived.
We parked in the agreed upon location, and as we were sitting in the car, I happened to look up and see those former neighbors walking on the sidewalk in front of my car! You need to know that where they lived and where I now live are 330 miles apart, and we had not seen each other in 14 years! I would never have expected to see them in that location, and you might imagine my great surprise that I did. I was speechless (which happens very seldom), but I opened the car door and yelled out to them. Now it was their turn to be speechless - and they were. Remember the line in yesterday's post about always meeting people when you look your worst? This was a perfect example. I had on very old clothes and my hair was a fright. Nonetheless, we greeted each other in glee and wonderment at the synchronicity of it all. They were in my town to deliver their daughter to her first year of college, which she was starting in the summer semester, instead of waiting until the fall.
We renewed our deep friendship, and got to know their daughter as they got to know my children. They returned to my city to visit their daughter several times a year and we always saw them at those times, as well as when we went back to my home town. There is no one alive now (except my husband) who knows me better than she, and spending time with her is such a deep comfort to me.
My daughter never fails to remind me that if I had not acceded to her begging for the trip to the mall, I might never have known that they and their daughter would be spending time in my city and a wonderful opportunity would have been lost forever. She is right, of course. Who knows what prompted me to give in to her whims. I prefer to think that it was fate - or some very good karma - that caused it to happen.
My friend was here last weekend to visit; even though her daughter no longer lives here. As we age, our shopping trips are fewer and shorter, our lunches and dinners get smaller and healthier. But we never tire of talking and being together, whether it is to savor the "old" days or discuss the newest changes in our lives. Our abiding friendship and love never fades. She is wonderfully generous of spirit and love and I will be forever grateful that she was brought into my life.
Happy Birthday, C______!