“Friendship,” Feb. 16, 2021

The first time I saw her was on the playground. It was my first day in second grade in a new school. I was miserable, hating life and having to be there in a tacky dress and ugly shoes.

She was the prettiest girl I ever saw. Part of me wanted to hate her, too. But somehow I decided I wanted to be her friend. It wouldn’t happen overnight.

Her name was Martha. We were never in the same classes, but everybody in a small school knows everybody’s name.

One day in fifth grade, I missed my bus to go home. As I stood on the curb, wondering how long it would take me to walk four miles in the rain, I heard a voice say, “C’mon, my mama will give you a ride.”

I climbed in the back of their car, looked up to see her mother beaming at me in the rear view mirror, and I realized where Martha got her good looks.

I asked her to drop me off, not at my house, but nearby. I didn’t want them to see where I lived. “Thank you, ma’am,” I said, climbing out of the car. Then I looked at Martha and heard myself blabber, “Sometime, maybe I’ll come to your house.”

Martha and her mother both said, “That would be so nice!”

In years to come, I would often find myself at Martha’s house. Sledding in winter. Barbecuing in summer. Sleep-overs on the floor in her basement. Or just talking with her mom and dad.

They were the kind of people who make you feel welcome and wanted. I liked talking with them, feeling happy and smart.

Somehow Martha ended up in the same college where I was offered a scholarship. We roomed in separate dorms, but most mornings, on her way to breakfast, she’d stick her head in my room to wake me up and yell, “You know how cold it is on Grandfather Mountain?”

It nearly ended our friendship. The fact that it didn’t says a lot about how much I liked her.

After college, we went our separate ways, but always stayed in touch. She flew to California, to be a bridesmaid in my wedding. Years later, I stood on a beach and watched her marry Byron, my favorite Texan.

We never had a lot of time together. But true friendship doesn’t need a lot of time. It picks up where you left off, with the same feelings, the same laughter, the same light in the eyes, as if you were never apart.

When my husband died of cancer, Martha and Byron flew out for the service and wrapped me and my children in their arms and their love.

Years later, as Byron’s health began to fail, they left Texas to be closer to Martha’s family in South Carolina. So when I went “home” to see my family, I’d get to see Martha and Byron, too.

One evening, not long before he died, Byron told me about a funeral he attended for a friend.

“People talked a lot about the things he did,” Byron said. “I just wanted to hear somebody say he made them happy.”

Byron was a great friend. He did his best to help whenever help was needed. But mostly, he just made people happy.

Martha is like that, too. Maybe it’s what drew them together. They made each other happy.

Last week, I called Martha to say “hey,” and bless her heart, she was sick as a dog. I wanted to help her. But we live 3,000 miles apart, so she said, thanks, no, there was nothing I could do. I kept checking on her, but she didn’t feel much like talking.

Finally, she called today and sounded like herself, laughing and full of life. She knew my sister and brother had both been ailing lately, and she wanted, as always, to help. I said thanks, but no, they were on the mend and there was nothing she needed to do.

So we did what friends do if they can’t help each other. We just talked. It made us happy.

What do you think? Tonight, when Martha’s sleeping, maybe I ought to call her up and yell, “You know how cold it is on Grandfather Mountain?”

I knew you’d say that.

Comments

  1. Shashi says:

    Time flies.It has been about three weeks , my son did not call. He is too busy to call anyone. His wife does not call me either. Grandbabies love grand parents though we talk to them on line whenever both are allowed to talk with us. Friends are precious but when our own son does not call, it really hurts. I think when kids grow up, they forget what we did for them. That is fine too. We did our part raising them with best comforts. Take care dear friend.Hope both your brother and sister are doing good. Lot of öove

  2. Donna says:

    My very best friend in my adult life died two years ago. We had a 40 year friendship. Enjoyed this article so much! I think of Sue so often and wish I could call her, so yes call you friend and I’m sure she will laugh!

  3. CHope Hall says:

    Your great writings always make me feel better. It’s cold, icy, and snowed in here. However we have heat, plenty of food and a terrific family. God has blessed us and we are thankful. We have our 60th anniversary tomorrow, but won’t eat out to celebrate until the cold, snow and ice are gone. We can wait and enjoy each other’s company until then. Take care and God bless you.

  4. Katie says:

    Love your memories you share. You make me happy! My best, oldest, first childhood friend also stay in touch even though our lives were quite different as adults. I first saw here before we were old enough to go to school. She was walking to the local candy store with my “boyfriend.” I told my mother that I would never play with him again. Boyfriends came & went, but my friend and I remained friends for life.

  5. Kate Sciacca says:

    I bet you already called her 😉. My dear friend, who lost her battle with cancer four years ago, always said “friends are the family we choose” – and for those who live under the Fatherhood of God it is most particularly true…

  6. Marie Hartranft says:

    Absolutely call her. That’s what besties do! True friendship is such a gift. Also glad to hear your sister and brother are on the mend.

  7. Sue Summers says:

    Absolutely.

  8. Dick Daniel says:

    Yes, of course you should. She would love it.

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