Archive for the 'Intentional Friendship' Category

The Summer of Three Reunions (part three)

Some of the women of the Class of ’68.

My inner-teenage girl pops out often at the strains of a Beach Boys song, but it’s been a long time since high school!

Yes, that’s me!

1968: “The year that transformed the nation” according to USA Today. All this year, the 50th anniversaries of that tumultuous year filled our news feed. The infamous Chicago Democratic Convention, August 26-29 of that year is the next one. I didn’t have to wait to read about this era in the history books, I lived it and it was intense. My “coming of age” year.

On May 28, the month between the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, another 1968 milestone occurred, High School Graduation. Notre Dame Class of 1968. My memories of that day are vivid. All 122 girls lined up in a waiting area and someone passed out lollipops and we all started laughing and hugging. I remember realizing we would never all be in one place again.


Can you spot my Simon and Garfunkel album?

Still true. But we could return for the 50th Class Reunion and many of us did.

What an amazing time!

Like most of us, I walked into the reunion Friday night full of wondering of what this would be like. Graduation day was a long time ago! Would I recognize many? Would cliques still show up? Who would I sit with? How many would remember me?

HS Friends I do see often!

One thing I knew for sure, by now everyone  has known multiple life experiences of both celebration and heartache. The playing field leveled evenly, unlike when we were all 18. I decided to talk to as many classmates as I could and hear some stories. Everyone had a few to share, along with photos of grands!

What a welcome! The collective consensus of, “we made it!” filled the room. Not just, “we made it to the reunion,” but we made it 50 years. As we saw in the beautiful tribute of those who have passed on, there was no guarantee. Not many dry eyes through that. Everyone seemed genuinely happy and grateful to see all the other classmates.

A dear friend from grade school. First time together in a long time!

My very first friend from two years old was there as well as the neighbor girls I walked to grade school with. One friend quickly recited all the names of our 1st to 8th grade teachers and another recalled funny clubs we made up in high school. On my way out the second night, I led an impromptu sing along of the old fight songs in the women’s lounge. So much fun!

Old friends now new friends and some of the best conversations included girls I never hung out with back in the day. The class Facebook page has been rocking with memories and photos. I’m hoping we do another one soon.

From the yearbook, a quote very dear to me!

The Summer of Three Reunions. Memorable indeed!

Hope for the best,


Found! A long-lost friend.

Kathy and I when we were toddlers with her Mom. I’m the “older” girl 🙂

Our mothers were nursing school friends and that meant Kathy and I were friends too as they, of course, arranged our social schedules. Little girls don’t pick up the phone and arrange play dates.

I have a few memories of times together then her family left Quincy for sunny Arizona for a better climate for her dad’s health. At six years old, we too young to write letters and besides, busy making new friends.

Later, Kathy wrote notes to my mom who was her godmother.  and called a couple of times a year too. My mom would always fill me in on what she was doing but she and I still had no communication.  Apparently, her family visited in 1965, but I was too caught up in my early adolescence and the Beach Boys to remember.

A few years back, I took my mother to visit Kathy’s mom in Arizona where they had a wonderful reunion. Friends for the 70 year journey  Mom told me she told Kathy all about it in one of their phone calls. I was happy they were still in touch.

Then my mom had a stroke on the 4th of July last year. Not life-threatening but definitely life-changing.

Once we settled into the “new normal,” I thought of Kathy from time to time and knew she would wonder why she wasn’t hearing from my mom. I would have contacted her but had no idea where she lived, just “out west” somewhere. Not a great starting point.

As Christmas grew closer, so did my urgency to locate Kathy. Then the most amazing thing happened…

My daughters and I visited Quincy a couple of days after Christmas and as I walked into mom’s house, where she no longer lives, I mindlessly pulled open her mailbox. Not a big deal, right, but after the July stroke, her mail no longer came to this address. Ever. The mailbox was always empty.

Until today.

The mail carrier made a stop that day to my mom’s mailbox to deliver a Christmas card from Kathy with her Utah address prominently displayed. I did a happy dance on the porch and told my girls the story.

After the holidays, I wrote her and she promptly responded. Our adult relationship was taking seed from the vestiges of the past, we had a lot to catch up on. I never dreamed we would meet again.

We did.

In March, we realized I was flying out of Phoenix and Kathy was flying into Phoenix the same day. Five hours separated our flights but we both knew we had to make this happen now or never.

We texted each other selfies for recognition. She waited a few hours at the airport, I arrived a couple of hours early.

After our hugs, our lovely reunion lunch lasted hours. I finally had to pull away to catch my plane. A most delicious time in every aspect.

Old friends reunited at the Phoenix airport!

What are the odds of a longing, a letter and a lunch coming together in three months after sixty years of no contact?  This story will show up in the book I hope to write about how God showed up and amazed me, time after time.

Kathy and I still write letters, and email and text and have a way to go in piecing together the missing years of our friendship but we’re having a great time filling in the blanks.

Missing an old friend? Keep your eyes open, anything can happen!

Hope for the best,





Goodbye to Our Parents’ Friends


Mom and Mary at our last visit.

She heard about it on the radio where she gets all the local news. My mother’s dear friend had died and no one called her. Like my mom, Pat was in her ninth decade but they still talked often on the phone about politics or shared jokes only they would get. Not long ago Pat swooped my mom up one Saturday evening to check out a church supper in a neighboring county. This was their kind of adventure!

“Who am I going to talk to before I go to bed?” was my mom’s lament. The girls still left from the St. Mary Nursing School class of 1947 could be counted on one hand.

June, another classmate, passed on as well, right after Christmas. June was a daily caller when we were kids and my brothers and I always looked forward to those distractions for my mom so we could get away with something.

Last night she got a call this time, Mary also died. Funny but I had just run into Mary’s address and was planning to send her a photo I took last August when we drove to Missouri to visit her on my mom’s last birthday,


like we had the year before. It was almost a tradition. Wish I had sent the photo earlier.

My mom mails me all the obits as these women’s stories were woven through my life as well in our overlapping years. I miss their young faces that I remember.

While we are so grateful for her long life, I can’t imagine most of my friends all passing on leaving me holding the memories, can you?

If you count a circle of friends, treat them well and love them lavishly. Life is short.

Hope for the best,


PS Another nursing school friends post…Friends for the 70 Year Journey

Girlfriends: Part 5


Sunset over the lake from the deck.

“Who were the three senior girl cheerleaders?” was one of the questions in on our high school quiz I devised. We all got that one right but no one remembered the name of our principal. Funny which memories last 47 years!

Stone of Rememberance

Stone of Rememberance

For the 5th time since we turned 60, the “Island Queens” as we named ourselves flew in, trained in, drove in to pick me up and headed north for six days of our own high school reunion and so much more.

One more added to our trio this year and although two of us couldn’t remember any contact with our new queen for the last 44 years, the time machine worked it’s magic. Somehow we morphed into 18 year-olds full of a lifetime of wisdom.


Hair styling

Conversation flowed from make-up to the death of our parents, grandchildren to good brands of jeans, our own mortality to how to make biscotti. There was never a loss of words. In between we sang along to the soundtrack of the 60’s, dropped into all the cute shops on the island, sampled Wisconsin cheese, clinked glasses and celebrated that we made it this far.

New topics get added and ones repeated each year like that one night in the summer of 1968. God-talk comes up often and this year there was more politics than usual.

Our high school mantra were these words from Wordsworth we managed to get into the yearbook. We do bring back the hour one weekend every year  in autumn.

 Do you have your own high school reunions?

Hope for the best,


PS More Queens posts from the past: G’Old Friends: Freshman to Seniors, Road Trip Reunion

Simple Fare for Friends-in-Need

brownies-three-664593-mHave you made a multi-course meal lately for someone who is sick or a new neighbor or a mom with a newborn  and delivered it to them in a pretty basket along with a lovely greeting card? OK, I haven’t either.

I have received a handful of those beautiful offerings in my times of need and was so blown away by all the carefully appointed details that anything less felt “not good enough.” Can you relate?

So when a new neighbor moved in or someone in my circle had a baby/got sick/suffered a crisis, I held off responding until I had time/energy to provide the full-blown deal and too often didn’t-do-anything.

Until after an embarrassing delay of responding, I did the one thing I could pull off, a plate of brownies. Amazingly, the recipient didn’t look a bit disappointed that the rest of the meal was missing!

The next time a need arose, I ordered a meal for delivery. Felt so “cheating” at first but the thank you was just as genuine and the Thai food that I could have never prepared filled the need of the evening just fine.

So next time you get the urge to provide “something” for someone, look around your kitchen, flip through your take-out menus, check out your freezer. It all counts in the category of “feed the hungry.”

I would love to promise you the beautiful food basket in your time of need and maybe one day it will be in my hand but I can usually throw together a batch of brownies or maybe a pot of chili on a good day. Can we agree not to judge if a few courses are left off the menu?

Jesus said: “And if, as my representatives, you give even a cup of cold water to a little child, you will surely be rewarded.”

I can do that. You can too.

Hope for the Best,


House Call

CancerOn an ordinary Friday afternoon I received a call from my beloved friend of nearly 50 years. In this day of email and texting, a call is welcome but not usual. When I saw her name on the ID I assumed it was about her mom who had been in frail health. The three of us. Ann, Mary and I, Our Story have a standing pact to inform each other immediately if one of our moms is doing poorly. We remember those moms when they were much younger than we are now.

It wasn’t about her Mom. Ann’s routine mammogram came back positive. Sadly, most of us will get a call like this from someone sometime. As a chaplain, I am very familiar with this news. As a friend, I felt like freaking out.

Mary called later that afternoon to invite me to set my phone alarm every day at noon so we could both pray at the same time for Ann. None of us was sure what would be next.

Surgery then ICU and now home… the calls, texts, card and emails kept flying back and forth. The phone alarm reminded us to pray at noon but we didn’t have any trouble remembering to pray the rest of the time!

Our annual weekend reunions never covered this agenda. Thankfully, although we all had known crisis and heartache as everyone does by this season of life, we had escaped any major health events. Until now.

How do you hold an old friend’s hand during a time like this when she lives 10 hours away? You make a house call. Like sweeping off the piles of your desk to the floor to clear the space, you pry open four days of your life in the middle of the week and take off. A virtual hug just won’t do any more.

I’m boarding the Amtrak this afternoon, Mary will get on at her stop and we will ride the rails until late tonight. Somehow I don’t think this will just be a long playdate like our weekend always is but I know we will find lots of time to laugh.

All test results look good so far thank God. Hopefully we’ll all be back together on Washington Island in the fall Last Year’s Reunion clinking our glasses to being on the other side of this. This time.

Do you have a friend who needs you? Call, text, email or maybe just GO.

Hope for the Best,


Friends for the (70 year) Journey

Omi engagement

My mom in 1948

She was leaning on her walker right outside the door to her assisted living apartment.  She knew we were on her way and I guess she couldn’t stand waiting inside.

“Betty?” she looked tentatively at my nearly 87-year-old Mom and opened her arms.

How long does it take to make a lifelong friend?  For my mom and her friend, Dorothy, nearly 70 years have passed since they first clicked back in nursing school in 1944.  For a short time they both lived in the same town and raised their kids but many years ago health issues moved Dorothy and her family to Arizona and the visits were rare.

Christmas cards and occasional phone calls filled in the highlights but decades passed since their last lunch together, until last Thursday.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall as they did their “remember when’s.”  I grew up hearing stories of their antics but that too was a long time ago.

Six hours later, I picked Mom up and we had one last round of hugs.  She was quiet on the ride back, unusual for my vivacious mother.  Finally she sighed, “I know I won’t ever see her again.”  I think I mumbled…maybe we could come back next year but we both knew it was likely true.

Phoenix 2013 043

My Mom and Dorothy

This morning, I walked my 7-year-old granddaughter to school and on the way one of her friends joined us.  I watched their animated talking and laughing and wondered if this was a “friend for the road or friend for the heart.”  Probably the former, but once in a while, one goes the distance, maybe 70 years.  You never know at first which ones will make it.

If you know who yours are, give thanks and give them a call.

Hope for the best,


G’old Friends: Freshmen to Seniors

We met in the fall of 1964: Ann, Mary and Tish.  JFK’s assignation was less than a year ago and The Beatles were the new group.  High school freshmen at an all girls school, we had not yet come of age.

We were not yet a trio and wouldn’t be for another 46 years.  Back then we hung out along with other friends and dished about boys, our moms, the nuns, and the latest group on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Graduation arrived followed by three different colleges.  The letters flew back and forth…for awhile.  Same topics: boys, our moms, our classes, but now also our faith as we made the journey from what was taught to what we believed and back again.

I walked down the aisle in both of their weddings and sent congratulation cards for at least the first babies.  Before long, only an annual Christmas card defined our relationship.

Occasionally, two of us would pop up out of the long season of life of ten children between us and meet for lunch or stop by on a road trip but never three at the same time.  No one lived in the same town anymore and besides we all had new friends.

In a minute, we all turned 60. Mary invited six of the girls from the class of ’68 to reconnect for a long weekend on Washington Island to celebrate and only Ann and I RSVP’d YES.  I must admit to some curiosity and anxious thoughts, would this really work?

Our first Queens weekend in 2010

By the time we got to the first traffic light, the forty-plus years of separate lives gave way to a sweet alchemy of affection, safety and delightful expectation of what the weekend would look like.  We all gave it a 20 on a 1-10 scale and couldn’t wait for our next reunion.  A year later we returned and so did the magic.

Columbus day weekend 2012

Last weekend was our third time together.  We call ourselves the Island Queens or occasionally the “high school sweethearts.” We still talk about the boys we love (now husbands), our moms and our faith and like most girlfriends… recipes, diets, our children and now grandchildren: eight between us and counting.

We plan to meet annually forever or as long as we can.  As I quoted in my first blog post (… “It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”  John Leonard.

Old Friends

Maybe it is common to “women of a certain age” but I am hearing a lot about re-connections with old friends.    Two popular books feature stories along this theme as well…The Girls from Ames” by Jeffrey Zaslow which tells the story of a forty year friendship between eleven women and “The Last Time I Saw You” by Elizabeth Berg  which is the story of a 40th high school class reunion told from five different characters.

Through FaceBook  I am now in touch, albeit it lightly, with a handful of faces from the past and find myself looking for more.  What I am searching  for is not clear yet.  Although I am quite nostalgic,  I don’t think I want to revisit those past places, events, or even season of life.  Perhaps it is more like genealogy, wondering, “Who did I come from?”  After all these years, I am ready to find out.

Over the summer I spent a long weekend with two girl friends I met when we were all 14.  Might I add that we had not been together like this since high school! All of the angst I invested in wondering how this would go was transformed into some of the best five days in this season of my life.  Laughing, talking, remembering, praying, looking ahead…a lot of the threads from the past were tied up that weekend.

How about you?  How many in your current circle of influence reach back into the past as well?

“It takes a long time to grow an old friend.”  John Leonard.

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