Our Best Friends Are The Family We'd Pick If We Could!
The Girls Who Give My Life Sparkle!
I had two "real-life" BFF's (Best Friends Forever) for many years - Sue and Sally. I met Sue when we were both six years old. Sally and I came together in 1981 when our husbands who were co-workers introduced us. In 1994, I was blessed with a third - my long lost little sister, Celia. In 1998, I met Annie, an online friend, through a forum about a medical condition we both share. We have emailed almost daily for over 15 years. We've never met in person, but I keep hoping! We do cross into "real world" by sending each other gifts and chatting on the phone occasionally.
So now I have four best friends... and I am forever blessed by having them in my life! This article is a tribute to each of them.
I've never been lucky enough to have all of them in the same room, but I've had two at a time a few times. They could not be more different people. They do come from similar backgrounds, they're all married, and they all have kids. From there, they all take off in different directions.
Shown here left to right are my sister Celia, my BFF Sally, and me.
About Friends & Family...
"Your family is family because they have to be... Your friends are family because they CHOOSE to be." – me
Sue, My Longest Time BFF - Since We Were SIX!
A Poem I Wrote For Sue - A Long Time Ago!
Someday, I will find a photo of Sue and me together as kids. There has to be one somewhere. Our moms introduced us, I'm not sure which one initiated the visit. Sue had two sisters and two brothers, and I was an only kid - and an adopted one at that! Do you think two six-year-olds can look into each other's eyes, recognize each other as lost soulmates, and instantly become sisters? Because it seems that must have been what we did.
We haven't been the stereotypical best friends. We didn't go on double dates or hang out together socially very much, except for one brief time that I attended her church's youth group. We had only one class together in all the years of elementary, junior high and high school. We didn't belong to the same clubs, we didn't go to sporting events together, and right now I'm sitting here trying to remember if we ever even shared a meal at a restaurant! I'll have to think about that one... But what we could do, and did do, was TALK. We lived half a block apart and it seemed like halfway round the world if I had a problem and Sue was busy, or worse yet not home! She was my one and only true friend as a child.
We could not have been more different, really! I was always envious of her looks! She was tiny, had long hair that was always at least to her waist or beyond, and these killer bright blue eyes, and I thought she was the most beautiful creature I'd ever seen! And I still do. I was always the chubby one with the silly perms and other hairdo's inflicted upon me. She was graceful; I was a klutz. I just thought she was the coolest person I knew! Somehow, we were (and still are) exactly what each other needed to get us through sad times as well as the happier ones. Then, as now, we still finish each other's sentences. We can go for months without talking and the moment we start up, we pick up right where we left off without missing a beat. I remember the day I found out I was expecting my daughter. I will admit, Sue was the first one who found out! (Hey, my husband was out of town - not my fault I couldn't tell him over the phone!) Any major thing that has happened in my life, my first thought is "I've gotta tell SUE!" And she has been the same way with me. It's just amazing. Now of course in later years, that "gotta tell" list has all four of my BFF's on it!
She and I have been best friends for 50 years now. That is just... scary. Wow.
The summers were the best. My dad loved to fish at Grove, Oklahoma and we would go down there a couple times each year. We'd stay at a guest cabin right on a cove of Grand Lake that belonged to friends of his. Every now and then, Sue would get to come along and we would have the times of our lives doing just about nothing! Those trips are among my fondest memories growing up. So is the summer that dad rented a house in Marshall, MO while he worked on a long contract job. Sue got to come down and spend almost a whole month. We were teenagers then, and anytime I hear summertime music from the early 70s it takes me straight back to there.
Half a lifetime has gone by and we are so very lucky to have each other.
Sally - My Second Longest BFF!
Sally and I met in 1981. Our husbands, both named Ron, worked together at the railroad as signalmen. Ron and I had just bought our first home and we really had no couple friends yet. Ron took me over to Sally's to meet her while he visited with Ron. Sally was always the consummate hostess, making any visitor feel at ease. She was an excellent chatter and knew how to draw people out. And at that time, I was still pretty painfully shy around new people! At that time I was working for the same railroad also, and I was on an odd swing shift. One day I got off work at 8 am and decided having nothing planned and not sleepy, I'd stop by Sally's and say hello. She invited me to lunch at Perkin's, and the rest was kind of history as they say. We stuck like the syrup on the pancakes we were eating, talked nonstop for hours, and I had my second best friend forever. Our friendship grew really fast in those early years. She was raising two little kids and stayed at home caring for them and participating in all their activities.
Sally and Ron were into square dancing and got us hooked. We had some fun years doing that together at our square dance club. And then my kids were born and we quit. Too bad!
Sally is just a few years older than me, and she was my role model for how to do things right being married and raising kids. I admired everything she did and copied a lot of it! In a few years she went through my pregnancies and was at the hospital when I delivered both kids. I remember being a brand-new mom, home with the baby for just a day or two, and making a mess of it! I was afraid to get in the shower for fear something would happen to the baby, if that gives you any idea. She showed up with McDonald's and held the baby while I got myself fixed up. That is what a best friend does for you.
Sally started working at her other best friend Paula's flower shop when her kids got just a little older. I was busy building my career and raising my two young kids too. They were good years I will never forget. It seemed like things always happen to one of us first, and then the other. It's amazing the similar experiences we've gone through. She lost her mom, and a few years later I lost my mom. Then the medical problems started for both of us. To respect her privacy I won't mention any of them here. Suffice it to say if it's rare, weird, or atypical, either she or I (or both of us) have had it. I have four "rare" disorders myself and she has at least a couple, along with a slew of other more typical medical problems. We have gotten each other through every single one of them.
In 1990, my husband transferred to Omaha and I was devastated - he was taking me away from my Sally!! Who cared about work and other friends - yes, it hurt, but nothing like being away from Sally. Luckily I finally got used to not seeing her at least every week, but that doesn't mean I had to like it!! We did visit quite often in those days. You have to understand - before we moved away, we spent every single Halloween together, every Christmas Eve, birthdays, everything together for almost ten years. It was one hard adjustment.
More changes in 2007 when we transferred to southeast MIssouri, which was even further away. Visits became few and far between, and were often sacrified for weather or illness of one of us. After four years of that, and both our worsening health, we finally transferred back to Omaha for good. Now here's where it gets a little interesting! Sally's grown daughter Laurie (who is well on the way to being my 5th BFF!) married her BFF Keith a few years back. He is an Air Force Major and is stationed here in Omaha! So now she and her daughters Chelsea and Lacey are just across town! Not only do I adore them all, it also gives Sally another excuse to come up here! We were able to enjoy two visits in 2010/11. On the last visit in late September, she became very ill while up here visiting and when she got home, she went through over 45 days of sheer agony in the hospital. Because I was also in sheer agony of a different kind waiting on my second hip replacement, I was unable to go and be with her. I thought it would kill me. Then I had to go in the hospital for the surgery, and even at almost six weeks post-op I'm stlll not strog enough to go and see her yet in Kansas City. BUT... we do talk!
Sally and I just "get" each other. It doesn't matter much what we're talking about, we just love each other's company I guess! We have a lot of common interests. I taught her to crochet shortly after we met, and she became an amazing crocheter. She also sews beautiful dolls and many other things. She's extremely creative and an awesome floral designer.
My whole goal in rehabbing this new hip is to be able to get in my car and drive down there for a visit. Having spent over a year tied to a walker, that's a big goal - but I'm doing it, day by day. My incentive every day is to get strong enough to go see Sally. It keeps me going.
I just can't say enough about her. She's an amazing wife, mom, and best friend. She loves animals like I do. She makes really cool stuff. And I adore her!
Here in the photo is Sally's daughter Laurie, Sally, and invisible me taking the picture! We were having one of our lunches at ChiChi's. Oh, those were the days... we need more of them! A few of our infamous coffee drinking marathons would be too bad, either. I love you, my girl.
A Present For Sally - A Long Distance Catch-Up
Photo Gifts To Stay In Touch...
I used to do these a lot... should get back in the habit! I loved to come up with pretty picture frames and put together collages of whatever was going on for Sally.
Sally and Sue Meet! - At My Tenth Wedding Anniversary Celebration, 1988
Oh what a special day this was! Sally, me and Sue. To have my two best friends (at the time) there just made the day complete. Sue drove all the way to northwest Missouri from northern Arkansas to attend.
Or should I say, "sassy!" Because that's the first word that pops to mind when I think of Cel. She's perky and sassy and amazing and funny... and she has a deep side to her personality that can see straight into my soul. She has a playful side too, and I really admire her ability to just have fun and get the most out of life! She is braver than I ever could be. Come to think of it, so are all my BFF's! She's been through stuff in life that I cannot imagine and sadly, I was not there for a lot of that. Before my time.
OK now here's where it may get just a bit confusing. Before my time? I haven't mentioned yet that Celia is my real life, long lost baby sister whom I met once when she was 5 and I was 10, and never found again until I was 35 and she, 30. Our Mama, God rest, had four of us and raised only Celia. She had a very hard life at that time and circumstances just didn't allow.
A Gift For Celia - I Made This For Her To Carry At Her Wedding.
This was a little gift I made by hand for Celia, a little "wedding purse" for her to carry. She loved it!
My Sister Celia's Wedding - Wasn't She Gorgeous!
This was the biggest "sister moment" of my life, the chance to help my sis get ready for her wedding! I was thrilled to be privileged to be there.
Your Thoughts On Best Friends
Do You Have A BFF?
The Best Friend I've Never Met!
Annie, my newest best friend (only 10+ years!) has to be a soulmate from a past life, or something! She and I just "clicked" from the very beginning. We are both creative, both spent our careers in graphic design, both love dogs, and so many other interests! We have never managed to meet in person but have been online friends for over ten years now! She is vastly intelligent, loves to follow natural phenomena like earthquakes and celestial happenings. She's also a writer like me, has written an entire book and shows amazing insight in everything she writes. Annie and I share the same neuromuscular disease, myasthenia gravis, and that's how we originally met – on an online forum.
We both love to do illustrations and are always bouncing ideas off each other. We both have a love of all things sparkly, and get a kick out of surprising one another with little jewelry gifts.
We always delight in sending packages to each other, and you never know what one will contain! She and I share a lot of secrets and we email nearly every day. It's been an amazing friendship and I hope it continues forever!
Annie - With Her Beloved Teddy
Teddy went to Rainbow Bridge awhile back. He was a precious little Shih-Tsu. I loved him too!
For Annie - Did this drawing for Annie years ago.
Best Friends Are Like Flowers!
They shine out from the sea of green leaves in your garden, they brighten your life in so many ways, and you need to take care of them like you would the most precious rose in your garden!