Living

Mondays with Mom: Girlfriends

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Recently I have been reminded of the importance of girlfriends, old and new. There is one friend who knows me the best and has known me since my youth. When something awful happens, she’s the first one at my door. We celebrate joys and mourn losses together, and even on those occasions when life gets so busy we don’t see each other for extended periods of time, we pick right back up where we left off.

New girlfriends are a special joy, too. Getting to know someone better is always fun for me. Sharing time with someone who shares your moral compass is a precious thing. I love a new exchange of ideas and learning new histories.

Mom is never far from my mind. When I share with a friend who has known about the length of this journey, talking about Mom carries the theme of endurance. New girlfriends may know about Mom through these articles or brief exchanges, but the intensity and immediacy of my life with Mom often surprises them. Even during a simple time of catch-up, inevitably the topic turns to Mom because our lives are so intertwined.

Mom was adept at making new friends. She could talk with anyone; I’m not sure anyone stayed a stranger for long. Perhaps that adaptability came from those years in the military and moving to a new home every couple of years. Although it drove me crazy as a youth, her ability to get to know strangers in waiting rooms or grocery checkout lines must have impacted me positively. Now, much to my children’s chagrin, I am the one talking to anyone and everyone.

Mom made time for her girlfriends and would spend hours at their houses or talking on the phone. I remember the many trips she made to Rock Eagle with Homemakers or the ladies’ missions organization from church. She was a leader in the women’s auxiliary of the Gideons and spent hours organizing retreats and events. While they were active in the military, Mom entertained and managed a busy social calendar for Dad and her children.

Over the past few years, many of Mom’s girlfriends have gone home to heaven. Her dementia has prevented her from absorbing their loss – one of the few benefits of the disease. I mourn for her. Mom’s best friends were my friends, too. As a child, when Mom and Dad had to leave for an extended trip without me, I often stayed with them. In particular, I remember staying with Juette and Kimsey Hill, Robert and Lillian Hencely, and Mona and Grady Brooks. Their homes were my homes-away-from-home. I learned so much from them and appreciate all the precious memories of those times.

At the time, I never dreamed those sweet days would come to an end. In the midst of time with my girlfriends now, I can’t imagine ever being without them. Life is so fleeting and seems to be flying by. The days may sometimes be long, but the weeks are short. Because we are all so busy, it takes coordination to make our schedules intersect and weeks or months go by without a window to visit.

I’m making a special effort this year to connect with friends old and new. Girlfriends are important and I’m determined to make the time to keep those relationships alive. Even if I can only shoot a quick text, I’m going to let people know they are important to me. Time is transient and I want to make the most of it before the moments pass permanently. Memories endure so I had better take the initiative to make them! If there’s not a way to visit, maybe we can at least catch up over the phone.

Thanks, Mom, for being such a good example for me.

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