Girlfriends--what a concept! Girls (children) and girls (adults) that connect in spirit and personality and share everything from dolls to recipes. I think fondly not only of my girlfriends but friends that wear that title and belong to my daughter, sister and yes, even girlfriends of my girlfriends.
Do you remember your first girlfriend? What games did you play? Was she a neighbor, school friend or maybe a cousin? My first girlfriend was a neighbor named Lois. Lois had a big sister, Elizabeth, and our primary play was dress up. We wore our mom's old clothes and insisted my younger sister and other little neighbor kids play the roll of "baby." We played mama, as in grown-up tasks. (I'm the mom, you be the baby). We called the orders and issued the rules. For some reason, the little sister and neighbors played along, pretending to cry when we told them, or sit still for time out. (minor punishment) Many years have passed since Lois and I crisscrossed our neighborhood yards, but indeed, I'll always remember her as a special girlfriend--even at our early ages of five and six.
And what about the Scouting or Campfire Girl years? Do you remember the badges you worked to achieve? And the girlfriend that aspired to the same goals? Linda was my friend in the fifth grade. I remember going to her house to work on one of our badges. Her mom worked and we loved to preview her closet (unbeknown to her mom). We wanted to look at her mom's beautiful clothes because she hung her clothes wrong side out in the closet--to avoid dust. Such I had never seen. Yes, Linda and I worked on badges together, but never without a peek into her mom's closet. That secret girlfriend bond--I trust you and you trust me.
Junior High years came and I found sewing and my forever friend, Martha. Oh, those fun years with our favorite teacher, Mrs. Alexander, who gave us confidence with needle and thread. In those years the "sack" dress was in high style. Martha and I eagerly shopped for our favorite 79 cent/yard cotton and cut/sewed two dresses, almost alike, all in one night of a sleepover. I cut and stitched; she pressed or visa-versa until two dresses were finished. We wore them with pride and couldn't wait to get to the next pattern and the next sew-in sleepover--almost every weekend during that freshman year of high school. Bonding in girlfriend sharing--equal loads, equal rewards.
And do you remember our "laugh til we drop" moments? Remember the times we looked at each other and started laughing? Sometimes it was about a private joke, others--well, it was fun to laugh together, be it over spilled milk or a silly boyfriend encounter.
College days found new comrades. One of my dear girlfriends was named Linda. We had food lab classes together and mastered the seriousness of the perfect meal, formulating even the cost of the hollandiase sauce and setting the perfect table for the perfect score. Such a kinship was felt together that we eagerly exchanged our first choice of classes to be sure we had the common schedule in upcoming semesters. Later we worked in the same testing kitchen for Pioneer Natural Gas, demonstrated the latest in superb gas cookery, shared a company car and even bought precious little schnauzer puppies from the same litter. Girlfriend bonding...laughter, sharing, trust, co-dependency, connection.
Marriage took me to the next stage of girlfriends. How can we possibly forget our first couple friends --(the husband and wife sought out friendships that matched the other couple equally). We shared meals, played games and took care of each other's children. And the dear girlfriends in early jobs? Mary taught me how to teach (and quilt). I loved Jan at TCU (working on her PH.D and birthing her children in the school holidays), my dear Christian church friends, Betty, Delpha, Suzanne and Linda. Again, more shared meals and children with the addition of prayer and study. And the connections of favorite friends in the community--Shirley who owned a fabulous fabric shop and gave me every opportunity, Mrs. Engleman (named Dottie) that I could NEVER call by her given name --she was just too special.
Remember the friends that loved your kids? The teachers, the neighbors, the community leaders? Remember the friends that shared discussions regarding "the best for your kids?" The piano teacher? The art teacher? Or the chicken pox spreading across the school?-- and years later, even the college of choice. Friendships to match the life window...girlfriends to match the heart and soul.
And somehow, middle age came to be. Our work associations and their value increased. Remember Bonnie, Judy, Nancy, Betty, Ann, Chris, Carolyn, Marty, Debra, and endless favorites, all relative to the daily walk.The time of life when there were too many dear friends to name?
Remember the friendships formed after the horrid empty nest? For years, we imagined how life would be when we had "our time" and then it happened? The house was empty and lonely. Where were our dear children? Young adults, yes, with girlfriends in their life. Bonding, sharing, laughing and finding their way.
And those first-in-years lunches--just you and a friend? No carpool to run; no clock to watch, except for the early retired husband that asked, "when will you be home?" Girlfriends with the first gray hair, the first wrinkle and the first...maybe the first of many...lunches. And the first of many girlfriend trips or retreats or...bees or writing groups and ALWAYS more new friends??
Must I remind you of our girlfriend bond during the hard times? Our sadness or loss about a child or parent or husband or even ourselves--no words describe the pain; our heart is cut in half. Girlfriends appear, sometime for no apparent reason--only to hold us up. Thanks, we mutter, because the words can't come. A hug, a tight hand grip, tears wiped from the cheek and a casserole in the oven...girlfriends, yea, we understand.
Ah, girlfriends. One of life's blessings. As noted author Gail Sheehy wrote several years ago in her book, Passages, the retirement years provide time to fulfill the desire to redefine oneself. Perhaps that is the last identifying moment of girlfriend-ing. It is almost the best. It is the sharing of laughs that relate to years of living, the sharing of "remember when", the "I have the funniest grandson story", the freedom to play golf, cards, quilt, take a class or watch a movie with a girlfriend--just because. It is the combination of dear, dear history friends and the friends we have just made that live down the road. It is girlfriend time in full circle.
The seasons come and go--in a flash. The seasons are shorter now. They aren't defined by years; instead we relate to months, maybe even events. But one thing for sure...girlfriends, I'll call you. Please call me.
BECAUSE girlfriend, we are special to each other. I couldn't make it without you. And I hope you feel the same.
Enjoy the best, share the best, be the best,
a wonderful scripture:
A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:7
and a favorite book:
Founding Mothers by Cokie Roberts, 2004.
...the stories of the women who raised our nation.