“Friends for Life … or Whatever,” column for July 8, 2014

We were young then, with our whole lives before us, starry-eyed blind to all that lay ahead.

I went running up the steps of the church _ late, yes, to my own wedding _ when I spotted them out of the corner of my eye hurrying along beside me. I’d never seen them before, but knew them well. Brushing back a makeshift veil that kept flopping in my face, I said, “You must be Ginnie and Gary. I’m so glad to finally meet you!”

They were college friends of the man I was about to marry. I’d heard enough about them to know, or at least, hope, they’d soon be my friends, too.

They were in a rush to get inside for the service. I told them not to worry, it probably wouldn’t start without me.
That was the first of countless big laughs we have shared.

I’m not smart about much, but I’m a genuis at spotting friends. Even ones I’ve never met. There are things you know with your heart more than with your head. That’s how I knew them.

In the months to follow, I grew to like them so well that I told my husband, if ever we should part, I wanted custody of Ginnie and Gary. He didn’t laugh. Even then, I suspect he saw it as a prophecy.

We lived three hours apart but took turns making the drive several times a year for a weekend at their place or ours.

Personally, I preferred theirs. Actually, we all did. It was cleaner. The food was better. And it was always more fun.
Gradually, we added children, their two and our three.

Occasionally, we’d go camping together in the rain or take a picnic to the beach in the fog or spend a few days freezing in a cabin in the snow. Funny, isn’t it? Bad times feel better with good company.

We watched our children grow up, weathered changes, big and small, shared our hopes and fears and, most of all, our lives.

In the four years my husband battled cancer, Ginnie and Gary kept in touch, walking that fine line of friendship, praying and cheering us on, always knowing somehow if we needed to talk or just to be left alone.

I remember the day they came to tell him goodbye. I’d called to say we were nearing the end and that he wanted to see them. They came as soon as they could. We spent a few hours laughing, crying, recalling all the times that we had shared.

When they left, we stood on the porch waving as they drove out of sight. Then he looked at me and grinned.

“You can have custody,” he said, “until I see them again.”

In the years after he died, Ginnie and Gary held onto me and my children, inviting us to visit, showing up for weddings, sending notes and cards for Christmas or birthdays or whenever to stay in touch.

Finally, when I remarried, they opened their hearts and their home to welcome my new husband just as warmly as they had once welcomed me.

I tell myself they still like me better than they like the new guy. But really? I’m not sure.

We live some 500 miles apart and don’t get to see each other often. But recently we had dinner together in their vineyard in California, along with some of our children and grandchildren.

We talked and laughed, ate and drank, chased 2-year-old Henry around the yard, and celebrated three generations of a longtime friendship that has been, for me, such a gift.

I wish you could’ve seen us.

I hope you’re blessed, as I have been, with longtime friends who prop you up and make you laugh, pray for you and hold you close in good times or in bad.

I hope you will tell them _ soon, don’t wait _ how much you treasure their friendship.

May you always stay close, always retain custody, and look forward to the wonderful day, in this world or the next, when you will surely see each other once again.


  1. What a great article on life and friendship. I truly loved it! I believe that friendships can be one of Gods greatest blessings. Thank you so much for sharing that piece of your life.

  2. I am sharing my husband’s ideas about your book which I am reading each word, each page, not skipping a single line of Birdbaths and Paper Cranes. He does not like to read any book, because he is not fan of reading English books, though he can read each page of an English newspaper. Making the long story short, I convinced him to listen. When I read each story and translated in my language that is Hindi, I am a hundred percent sure he liked each chapter. When I read it, he listened it . The best one he agreed with me is about the blankie of your third baby when he went to school. It made me a little emotional,too, as I had the same experience when my daughter went to school. She did not put anything extra in her bag, but she cried a lot for one hour. When I stated so to her teacher, she told me to go home and leave her with them.

  3. Dear Sharon ,
    I wanted to read more than one column written by you so ordered your book Birdbaths and paper Cranes . It was 10 days late because I ordered second hand , It is new like brand new . I checked my mail box at least 10 times and waited till I checked it yesterday with no hope . I was thinking to check with Amazon , It was not an urgent issue but still I wanted to have it so that I can read something more loving and inspirational . So I got it in mail and without waiting for anything else to do I read four columns already . Then I could not wait to write you thanks at website thinking it would be late to post a thank u note by mail . Each cent I spent is worth million bucks when I read only few pages . I can pay even more to buy at least 10 copies to enjoy writings of a wonderful writer like you Sharon . You deserve many more prizes in your life and thanks to your family to help you publish a book so that it can inspire many more people who love reading books . God bless you ! Lot of love to you all family who support you to publish such stories . They are more than stories when written about real people and describing real incidents .

    • Sharon Randall says

      Thank you, Shashi, for your lovely note. If you’ll be kind enough to send me your mailing address (please send it to my email address, not as a post on the website!) I’d like to send you a bookplate that I will inscribe for you to paste in the jacket of the book you ordered. Thanks so much for your support!

      • Thanks Sharon ,I have received them today . Loved each word from the note and two beautiful notes written by you , I pasted both one at first page and one at the last page , shared with my friend at work and will order book for her as gift . I cannot find any other better than a book written so beautifully by Sharon . ! Always stay blessed with love ,happiness and good health .

  4. Kathleen Leveroni says

    My husband has just been diagnosed with cancer . I have been reminded by emails, phone calls, and notes of just how important old friends and distant cousins can be. We have John and Katrina in our lives…Johns grandparents and my husband’s grandparents came from the same area of Italy and became instant friends. Somehow that connection is as strong as ever and how nice it is to know that they will be with me every step of this journey ahead! Thanks for the reminder.

    • Sharon Randall says

      Kathleen, I’m sorry to hear of your husband’s illness. I well remember what that news is like and how it can completely turn your world upside down. How wonderful that you’re surrounded by family and friends to support you. I wish you both a quick recovery and all the blessings that will come of this.
      Grace and peace,

  5. You have a way with words that just wraps around my heart and soul and puts me in a warm embrace as if it were my Daughter I had for 17 years. Yes she has gone on ahead of me leaving me with all her worldly treasures but I much rather have her here to hug me. I am owner of all her memories and I go back there sometimes and jus savor them. Thank you for your stories. I love them.

    • Sharon Randall says

      Linda, I’m so very sorry you lost your daughter. What a gift, that you have such wonderful memories!
      Wishing you grace and peace and all God’s best,

  6. Kathleen says

    You capture the beauty and warmth of long time dear friends so well. As usual a heartfelt column of the true essence of life – friendships, family. Thank you Sharon!!

  7. Thank you, Sharon, for this beautiful reminder of the blessedness of friendship. How important it is to let those you love, family and friends, know how very much they mean to you. My heart has been touched, once again, by your gift of writing what all are feeling.

  8. Sharon,

    I think the Internet gods should require you to provide tissues with your columns.

    Beautiful as always, just as true friendships are.



  9. annette mcmanus says

    such a warm and heartfelt story thank you from Tokyo!

  10. Beautiful as always !! How can we forget our friends forever friends even after so many years
    have passed ?
    Any means of communication will be enough to keep connected ! Thank you sharon for reminder to stay in touch with friends .

Speak Your Mind