I shared wine and pizza with my dear friend last night and it was like always – we picked up where we left off, no matter how long it had been since we saw each other. Pattye and I met 10 years ago, coworkers for the same hospice company, she a social worker and I a nurse. We discovered that we had a few other things in common – we had daughters the same age, we both have December birthdays, and we shared a passion for the work of hospice. I became her boss for a while, but she didn’t let it ruin our friendship! Pattye was one of the first people in my life to show me what it means to be transparent and authentic, talking about her own life difficulties with a sometimes raw candor which at first startled me. Growing up, I was taught the importance of keeping my guard up and looking good to the world, keeping any pain or ugliness hidden inside. I was in a bad marriage, but denied it to myself and absolutely didn’t want anyone else to know! From Pattye, I learned the value of the girlfriend, and gradually opened up and have shared things with her that I’ve not mentioned to anyone else. The fact that I was in my 40’s and had not ever had a woman friend who stuck with me through thick and thin makes that a big deal. I knew pretty quickly that Pattye and I would be friends for life, and when I was unfairly terminated from my management position after nearly 5 years of faithful service, she immediately resigned her own job. Said she wouldn’t work for those kind of people. THAT is friendship at its best.
Now our daughters are 18, both going away to college. Hers is an only child, mine the youngest of half a dozen plus one. We are “older” parents, having birthed these girls in our late 30’s. We laugh and cry and drink wine as we share the emotion of our little birds leaving the nest. They’ve been on the edge for quite a while, now will fly off, as they should, bravely beginning the next chapter of their lives, and leaving us to do the same. As for us? We continue the forward march, embracing the uncertainty of aging bodies – lines in our faces and sagging breasts, doing the best we can to be healthy in a toxic world, and living today with the hope that we’ll be able to do all the things that we’ve put off for the joy of parenting. She plans to return to volunteering, and I – well that seems to always be a question mark lately!
I look back at the journey from where I am now, and am quite frankly amazed and very grateful for the women who have come into my life and become my companions and cheerleaders, and I theirs. I love my life, I love my friends, and I raise my glass to all of you.