Now and Then Friends


Connie and me at 4-H camp

Sometimes I wonder what makes friendships last.  Is it a common history?  Shared interests?  Intellect?  Points of view that mesh beautifully?  When I was a little girl, I had all sorts of friends:  Betty, my best-friend-from-the-bus;  Connie, my blood-sister-best-friend;  Debbie, my best-friend-cousin; Bonita, my best-friend-sister.  I suppose Mom had friends, too.  She had Extension Club and Church, and of course family.

I never thought about Mom having friends, when I was a little girl.  That’s ’cause mothers are not real people.  Well, not real like kids are real.  Moms never get sick, or need anything, or want to do anything except take care of kids and maybe have more kids. Oh, and talk about kids.

Mom visited all the time with Mrs. R, from across the street.  Mrs R was  Nancy’s and Doug’s and Noreen’s mother. Us kids played cowboys and Indians or piggy-in-my-pen, while those two moms talked all afternoon.  Moms never played.  They just watched kids playing.  Most of the time,  they didn’t even watch.  Play kinda bores Moms.

Mom went to Extension Club, same as my friend Betty’s mom.  At Extension Club,  moms got together to talk more about kids and make stuff, like purses made out of some sort of black stretchy thread.  My mom was the best maker of stuff in the whole wide world.  She could make anything she set her mind too. I guessed making stuff is the way grown-up girls play.  I never did know why it was called Extension Club.  Maybe ’cause Extension is one of those three-syllable words, that sound mysterious and smart.  Maybe women felt connected, like they had an extension cord hooking them all together.

Sometimes Mom visited with ladies from the Alter Society at St. Joseph’s.  Those ladies got together make up a schedule to clean the church and tidy up the cemetery and to pray the rosary.  Maybe cleaning stuff up is another thing that seems like play, especially if other people are helping.  I never liked cleaning, but then again, I was still a kid, so I knew better than to think something like cleaning was fun.

Besides talking about kids, moms sometimes talked about other moms.  My mom said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Not everybody knows that rule.  Alter Society ladies prayed for people, which is sometimes a sneaky way of talking about them.   Once I gave up gossip for Lent.  Any time somebody started talking mean, I said, “I gave that up for Lent.”  I really burned a lot of people, saying that out loud.

Mom and all my aunts liked to talk about their kids, and who was expecting another one, and about good jello recipes, and what food made them burp, and about the crazy lame-brained stuff my dad and uncles did lately.  I liked to listen to Aunt Phyllis the best, ’cause her big blue eyes bugged out of her head and her wiry hair curled up in every direction so everything she said sounded like an adventure.  She could make gathering eggs sound like fun.  Plus she said funny things like ‘tawlet’ instead of toilet and ‘wull,’ instead of well.  I never listened that much, ’cause mom talk is sort of boring.  Playing is much more fun.

Except for Betty’s mom, Mom is still friends with most of the people she got together with way back when.  They must have had more in common than just the kids and husbands because kids are grown and husbands are passing away, and it’s the women’s friendships that hold them together.  Some of the women still do community work, but most of  them started exercising their play muscles and just have fun together.

Connie and me now.

Come to think of it, I’m still friends with Connie and Bonita and Debbie.  All  are women with different talents and temperaments.  Women who nurture me in different ways.  Along the way, I’ve gained some virtual friends, like Kim and Nikki and Sharni.  Kim, I met in person this month; Nikki is in India, her eyes still not quite recovered from a home fire; Sharni is in Australia, expecting her second baby.  I think I love these women as much as any friend I can see and touch.

I lost track of Betty.  I wonder where she is. Maybe I can find her with a virtual search.

5 thoughts on “Now and Then Friends

  1. Sounds like you had an ideal childhood. My mom was the type who kept to herself, and kept herself busy with household chores and her extended family. In those days, families stayed together more, and you didn’t have to look for outside interests like you do now. Maybe that’s what we’re all trying to recreate with the internet. I’ve made several good internet friends myself, and I keep in touch with my own family who live far away.

    • I had a wonderful childhood. Of course, I often thought my parents were mean, out-of-touch, didn’t know or understand me and expected way, way too much of me. (I was a bit difficult. Or as my sister once said, “passionate.” Yes, I am a passionate person!) Somewhere in my late 30s, I began to see how much my parents loved me. They understood much more than I knew, and were really wise people. We all learn from our childhood, even the tough stuff has some good lessons.
      I’m glad you and I are new virtual friends in our 60s and working on our stories. (I will be featured on BlogHer.com tomorrow. If you are interested, please pop on over.)

  2. I love the before and after pictures of you and Connie. You’re right, we never think about our mothers having girlfriends as meaningful as our girlfriends. My mother had a very close friend in Connecticut she met after she was married, but I know she always missed those friendships she had growing up in Kentucky, especially her high school friends. I guess my dad became her best friend after that.

  3. Pingback: Not Just for Boys « Once A Little Girl

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