Friday, 30 December 2011

THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD LEADS ME BACK...


Wendy

Heather

Me

It seems, in your twenties, that life stretches out long and wide ahead of you and mortality is something that happens to other people. You imagine your circle of friends will always expand. You cannot know how many friends will drift away; how many connections will be lost.

But if you are very lucky, there are a handful of people who are still with you at the other end of life. Friendship is picked up as if you’d seen each other yesterday no matter how far away you travel in distance or circumstance.

We were in our twenties in these pictures. All of us were married and Heather & Wendy’s children were young. I have a lot of memories of their kids.

Dave, Wendy’s younger son would only eat Zoodles and Laura Secord’s Chocolate Pudding, except when at his daycare lady’s house. There, he’d tow the line. When I lived in Toronto, a Tim Horton’s near Wendy’s house became her refuge and she wrote me letters from there. A brief escape from job, housework and mothering duties.

In one letter, she described coming home exhausted and plunking into an armchair with a good book, and going quietly on strike. After a long while, her husband Bill (and the boys) got the idea that Mom was not cooking and Bill went for takeout. Good guy that he is, he also volunteered to put Dave to bed – and in the process, handed Dave to Wendy for just a moment while he grabbed a diaper. The very moment that Dave decided his bowels needed to move. “Remember ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ Wendy said, ‘it was nothing like that.”

And there was the time Wendy and Dave were in the car and “I Want to Know What Love is” came on the radio. Dave was very young. He turned to Wendy in disbelief and said, “Imagine not knowing what love is!” 

Dave is a crusty, quick-witted young man these days - but that same heart is still firmly embedded in him.

I lived with Heather on Kline Street and was left in charge of baby Phil (Heather’s first break from the baby). I walked him ‘round and ‘round under a ceiling light because it was the only thing fascinating enough to stop him crying. Until I discovered that he liked blueberry yogurt. I was pretty smug about my inventive baby tending until the next day, when he began to eliminate the blueberries at an alarming rate and Heather pointed out to me that you just don’t feed blueberries to a baby who is just starting to eat soft food. 

But he lived. Today he's a police officer - and runs his own Karate school. 

I also remember sewing a Victorian nightgown for Heather’s daughter, Tracey, who was so excited she put it on and ran out into the street at high noon to show her friends. She was out the door so fast, we didn't even realize she was gone. 

Another time, she was misbehaving and sent to her room – and stomped up the stairs calling out in a long-suffering voice, “I wish I had a kind mother,” while Heather & I sat in the kitchen cracking up over her theatrics.

Tracey grew up to have a singing voice that could break your heart. And she's still theatrical, funny and lightening quick with a one-liner. 

There are other stories I could tell you. Blurry memories of a lot of parties. This was the early 70s. Marriages came together and fell apart. There were heartbreaks, financial disasters, losses and gains of every kind. There were bottles of gin and hot knives and the kinds of scrapes you get into that make a great story a long time after you get out of them. There were men behaving well – and men behaving badly. It didn’t take long to figure out that when push came to shove – it was our women friends who would show up and help stick us back together again. 

And here it is – 40 years, give or take, since we were the girls in those pictures. After hundreds of friends have come and gone, after marriages have broken, these are the people who are right next to me, walking the far end of the trail. Still showing up to help stick the pieces back together again.

Grace. This is what grace is.





7 comments:

Pat Barber said...

Blessings to you all...

Marsha Wiest-Hines said...

(whispered) wow.

Sandy said...

I know you'll hold them close and love them dearly. Please know also, there are many of us in Cyberville who are holding you close and loving you dearly.

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

Here's to old friends.

Roberta said...

There is really nothing like old friends is there? Ones who have known you for so very long.......such history. You are blessed.

Cate said...

I watch this from a distant land and envy your riches.

Anonymous said...

Love these pics. Coyo