Friends and Soul Mates

Friendship is such a powerful thing. Do you ever think about it? Do you think about who your best friend is? Do you have one main special friend or several?

I have four friends that came together as an informal spontaneous "support" group. It started more than 30 years ago, when I was working two jobs to help ends meet and raising my two sons alone. I cleaned houses as a second job – I cleaned four police officers' homes and one of them was one of the first women on the Spokane Police Department. She is integral to this story because we all were brought together by her: She has a sister, and then an ex-sister-in-law (ditched the husband but kept his sister), and then her best friend whom she met while they were attending Alcoholics Anonymous for Spouses, and then me, her part time house keeper. (She hates when I introduce myself that way!)

We met because we all were single mothers; we were all around the same age (I'm the baby); our children were around the same age; and we were in-between relationships. We have religiously met for dinner once a month, and rotate who picks the dinner. We have individually only missed a dinner for whatever reason keeps us away, however, the group itself has NEVER missed a dinner in all these 30+ years.

We were front page news (well, Section C front page) of the Spokesman Review in 1992, where we were crowned "The Diners' Club" by the S-R writer, Rebecca Nappi. Thank you, Becky! The most amazing thing was the number of MEN who read and commented on our ariticle! {smile}

We are alike.

We are different.

We have been at each others' weddings and held each other through divorces; we have gone through teenage traumas with each of our children, together; we have taken on the ailments that pester people as they get older and we do it with aplomb and humor; we have supported our children in their struggles stepping into adulthood; we have survived all of our parents and now are 50-60-ish orphans. We cry on each others' shoulders, rant and rave about whoever is wronging us, share deep and private secrets that go no further than the table we are sitting at, laugh and giggle, weep, cry, commiserate, sympathize, and empathize – sometimes all of this several times in a two-hour period.

We started a "mad money" pot several years ago where we would pitch in $10 a month to fund something, anything, to get out of Dodge for a night or two. Our "mad money" pot has paid airfare, hotel, and food on two trips to Seattle, one trip to Yakima for the Spirit of Seattle dinner train that was stationed there (before it moved to Seattle); we spent a Christmas night in Coeur d'Alene overlooking the lake, with Santa's Village visible on the other side; another Christmas in Sandpoint for an absolutely magical snowy Christmas. We have a group Christmas card that got started in the mid-80s that we pass around on a rotational basis and we each take turns summarizing the year we have just finished; we have had pages added to it; I finally scrounged card shops for a new envelope to replace the frayed one. We each have had the card during a year that invariably is one of transition – literally – where the Keeper Of The Card is moving to another house and at the same time tries dutifully to keep in mind which box has "The Card." I personally would hyperventilate over it for 365 days until I handed it over to the next person at our Christmas brunch, with a huge sigh of relief that I didn't lose it. (Or throw it away.)

Our best trip by far was to Disneyland – twice. We saved enough to pay for several days in the Park. Our first trip, we piled into a taxi at the LA airport, five of us "old" ladies chattering and giggling at once and the driver fell in love with us. He happened to be going off duty for the weekend, but he "adopted" us and became our driver for the weekend. He got our plane schedule and then faithfully picked us up at 6:00 in the morning, took us to breakfast, drove us to the Park, told us to meet him here at this spot at 1:00 to take us back to the hotel for our "naps" and then drove us back to the Park for the rest of the day, picking us up at 11:00 at night and delivering us back to the hotel, watching us c-r-a-w-l up the steps to our room, only to start it all over again the next day. He figured out that our plane left at 5:00 in the evening and calculated how many play hours we could spend at the Park, and he picked us up and delivered us to the airport in plenty of time for our plane ride home. Thank you, John!!!!

We have talked about everything you can imagine from men, to menopause, to teens, to men, to independent women, to old age, to men, to ….. hmmm, well, MEN. We have all been through serious illnesses and without the support of each other, we would have flailed cluelessly through it all. One of us is a breast cancer survivor, one of us has Lupus; one of us has kidney disease; one of us has been diagnosed with Parkinson's. We hold each other up, lift each other up, and brighten each other's lives. I don't know what I would do without these four women in my life.


MarmiteToasty said...

Goodness, what a beautiful post..... you are truely blessed....

I have 3 very special maties here.... not 30 year friendships, more like 14 year ones..... and not quite to the degree of yours.... friendships are a very strong part of life for me.... but special friends are the 'business' :) - and it is times like the past few months when you realise who ya maties are, come near or far....

you wonderful crazy woman you ...


Slip said...

I have one friend for 45 years. He and I married sisters, I still have mine he divorced his, tried to warn him. My sister in law told me that if I stayed friends with her ex- husband she would have nothing to do with me. I can't say I miss her.

MichaƩle said...

Hi! I saw your post on the Spokesman Review's matter of opinion. I can't believe I haven't found your blog before...blog surfing is one of my hobbies (when and if I ever have "free time") I'm a Spokane native as well and have three wonderful kids, 16, 14 and 12 and yes, I DO love the teenage years!!! Nice to "meet" you!

Cheryl said...

Good golly, what a wonderful journey you're all having together!

I'm a playwright and you have my head spinning with ideas!

Cheers to you and your fabulous girlfriends! I can't wait to come back and read more of you blog. Visit mine, if you like at http://www.playwrightchick.blogspot.com/

Keep blogging - you're pretty good at this stuff!!! Cheers!

Al said...

My best friend is my wife.