“Stories of a Friendship,” column for Nov. 3, 2015

Do you have a friend you’ve known and loved for more years than either of you care to count?

I hope so. Say her name, picture her face, recall the sound of her laughter, the color of her eyes, the way she makes you feel. When was the last time you spent an hour together? How would you describe the kind of person she is? What sort of difference has she made in your life and those of others? How do you want to remember her?

If you could tell just one story about your friendship, from all the countless memories you’ve shared over the years, which one would you choose?

The invitation, like the guest of honor (and her lovely daughter who sent it), was beautiful and elegantly understated: “Join us to celebrate Ginny’s 70th birthday.” Then came the date, place, time and a note: “No gifts, but bring a story about your friendship to share.”

My mind raced with questions. The party was in California. There was no way I wanted to miss it. I live in Nevada, but that weekend, I was supposed to be in Arizona. Could I change my plans? Rearrange the flights? Where would I stay? What would I wear? And how in the world did my friend Ginny get to be 70 years old?

Here’s a little tip: Do what you want while you’re young. Pretty soon you’ll be trying to figure out how to get to your friend’s 70th birthday party.

All of those questions (except the one about Ginny’s age) were easy. The hard one was which story to tell at her party.

For example. I could tell how we met at my wedding on the steps of the church. We were both running late. I spotted her and her husband and knew they were the college buddies I’d heard so much about from the man I was marrying. They were anxious to get a seat. I told them not to worry, the service wasn’t likely to start without me. It was the first of a lifetime of laughs we would share.

I could tell how I told my husband, if he and I ever split, I wanted custody of Ginny and her husband. I could describe how we raised our children together, their two, our three, going camping in the rain, sharing cabins in the snow, saving our parental sanities just by knowing we weren’t alone.

I could confess how I once left my house in a godawful mess to drive up to see them. On the way up, our car broke down. They came to our rescue, drove us back to our place and spent a weekend in the godawful mess.

I could recall how when my husband was dying with cancer, they came to say goodbye. We spent a few hours talking and laughing, remembering good times we’d shared. When they left, he grinned and told me I could have custody of them until the day he’d see them again.

I could say how very much it meant to me years later, when I remarried, to see how Ginny and her husband welcomed my new husband into their home and their hearts, just as they had first welcomed me.

I could tell lots of stories about my friend and our friendship. But this one, I think, says it all.

Years ago, I interviewed Linus Pauling. He was 93 years old, had won two Nobel Prizes, was still doing research. His wife, Ada, had died the previous year and he missed her, it seemed, something fierce.

“Tell me about her,” I said.

He lit up. “We met in college,” he said. “Her IQ was higher than mine. She could’ve done all the research I have done. Instead, she chose to make a home and a life for me and our children. She made everything possible.”

Two things struck me about that statement. One, Ada Pauling lived a life of her own choosing. Two, beyond other achievements, she chose, for her husband and children, to make “everything possible.”

I’d say the same of my friend Ginny. The life she has chosen, the home she has made, all the things she makes possible?

I wish you could see her.

That’s my story about my friend. What’s yours?

Comments

  1. Karen Sparks says:

    Dear Sharon…
    I just love all your column and look forward to reading it each Sunday. So many of them touch my heart and therefore bring tears to my eyes. I just read the column about your friend Ginny. My friend is also a Ginny, and she has been my mentor at my job, and my best friend for over thirty years… always there for me when I’m sad or when I’m happy, and has a way of making me laugh to get through the tough times. We’ve had our disagreements in the past, but I always think of her being in my life till we’re old and gray, and we always know we will be lifelong friends.
    Thanks for reminding me of Ginny and how special she is in my life.
    Wishing you a lifetime of joy that you can share with me and all your faithful readers.
    Karen Sparks

  2. I have never met a stranger. Me having one best friend is impossible. However, I do want to mention my dearest friend, Jeannette. We both attended Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and pledged the same sorority. As freshman, our rush class stood at the front entrance of our new sorority house. We did not know what to expect. Jeannette and I started talking and became fast friends. We both hailed from Illinois. At Christmas we exchanged gifts and vowed to do that until we died. 45 yeas later, we have kept that promise to each other. After graduation, we moved to Washington, DC. There we met our future husbands, who were not only friends but were also in the Navy. The rest is history…..

  3. Kate Sciacca says:

    Another beautiful column… I am blessed to have two “BFF” ladies in my life. We started a school together for our kids (several are grown and married with kids of their own) and have been there for each other through many joys and sorrows. Unfortunately, one has stage 4 cancer and the other has a serious heart condition. I cherish each day we have… Texting and laughing and enjoying every day together (they are still in CA and I had the nerve to follow my husband to northern NV) – I just cannot fathom life without them… But I know those days are numbered…

  4. Vanessa L says:

    What a beautiful story! Nothing in life, other than a great spouse and a relationship with God, is more valuable than a loyal friend. And one of the most difficult circumstances is to be the invisible glue that holds everything together, the one component nobody seems to notice.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a beautiful story of a long-lasting friendship. After decades of trying to be the “glue” while dealing with a horrible family situation, I find myself isolated and alone, having distanced myself from the world around me as best I can. Nothing makes a person feel unlovable like the words of an ungrateful, selfish adult child who has wasted her own life and is trying to take you down with her. But I’m so very fortunate to have a wonderful husband and a merciful Savior, and a few children and grandchildren who love me, and for now that’s more than enough.

  5. Elizabeth Panni says:

    I met Barbara when I was in 4th grade. When I moved away in 6th grade we wrote letters. We stayed in touch “through thick and thin” over the years. We did girlfriend getaways from time to time, once to Alaska, another to Florida and so forth. She lives in Maryland and I live in California.

    We have always been there for each other and we are such opposites! She is outgoing gregarious and wears her heart on her sleeve. I am introverted and sceptical. But we would do anything for each other. She is my sister of my heart.

  6. Sharon says:

    I first met my friend Lana when her oldest and my middle were in preschool together. My youngest and her middle were born just days apart. She lived up the block and around the corner and we lived in each other’s kitchens, drinking tea and folding laundry and watching babies. Our friendship has survived moves across country (hers) divorce (mine), and death. (our parents). We’ve watched our kids marry and make us grandparents, and even though we only see each other once every couple of years or so, when she walks in the door, it’s like we were young mothers again.

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