The Gift of Friends

“No friendship is an accident. ”
― O. Henry, Heart of the West

Today is the birthday of three of my friends.

Happy Birthday, Jodi, Linda, and Jim.

Each of you came into my life at different times, each bringing your own special and unique gifts. I am so thankful.

As I take a walk down Memory Lane, the first person I’d meet is Linda. Linda and I were friends in grade school and junior high. She always had a smile and was full of energy. I loved her for her sense of adventure. She seemed fearless. An added bonus was the fact that my Dad knew her parents meaning I could actually go to her house after school. Linda lived in the country. For a town kid like me, that was so incredibly special because that meant I got to ride the bus. I never knew what to expect when we arrived at her house “out in the country.”

Now…I have to confess…as fearless as Linda was I was her direct counterbalance in this Universe. I was afraid of EVERYTHING.

Of course, I could not act like I was afraid so I had to devise all kinds of maneuvers to appear to be just fine with whatever it was we needed to get done as far as completing her chores. The most consistent thing to challenge my acting ability was the Houdini escape pig who always seemed to get out just before the school bus arrived. That pig was HUGE in my skinny little town kid eyes! It was our job to herd that big beast back home to the pen. I spent more time and energy running in some sort of zig-zag pattern making every effort to stay as far away from the pig as possible. I really really really disliked that hog. I was little, if any, help. We (meaning Linda) did eventually get him back where he belonged. Thank you, Linda Wendt Mossman, for being a friend then and now. Happy Birthday.

The next person I’d meet on the stroll today would be Jodi. She was one of the first people I met after moving to Waterloo from Traer. What a culture shock for me–moving from a small community school to a small city school. I was scared to death most of that first month of school. Jodi and I had many things in common–which neither one of us really shared until we were much older. I think kids are so open we felt our common bonds even without speaking about them. She never ever gave up on me and was successful in breaking me out of the house for different get-togethers. I was so grateful to her for never having to explain some of the craziness she saw going on at our house. Now, we laugh about some of those times. After we graduated we stayed close friends until I moved to Denver in the mid-eighties. I still miss those weekend nights when we would sit around her kitchen table and share stories from our week. When I count my blessings, Jodi McGrane Verbraken is definitely at the top of the list. Happy Birthday, my dear friend who has been by my side for so many life-changing things. I cherish you and love you.

The person furthest down memory lane is Jim. I met Jim and his wife, Jan, at a little RV park in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Michael and I had our RV parked in Pleasant Valley, in the little town Howard, along the Arkansas River,  for many years. Jim and Jan and many others used this little spot along the river as a weekend getaway when we were all still working in Denver. I didn’t get a chance to really get to know Jim until we had retired. Both Jim and his wife, Jan, have the most contagious laughs on the planet along with being two of the most giving people on the planet. I am so grateful I have them as friends. Happy Birthday, Jim Finegan. I am looking forward to seeing you and Jan next week.

It’s not Carolyn’s birthday today but that is her needlepoint wall hanging I am using as my story photo. Carolyn and I worked together at St. Francis Hospital in Waterloo, Iowa, for many many years. I carried this little wall hanging with me for decades–some of the age shows around the edges. I hung it where I could see it every morning–its last place was just inside my closet door–Carolyn greeted me every day before I hit the road to work. When we sold our house and became full-time RVers, I had to let many things go. This was one. So, tearfully I took a picture of it, knowing it would now be well-preserved. Thank you, Carolyn Nederhoff for this wonderful gift that symbolized our friendship and helped get me through my working days without your giving spirit. I think of you often and send you my love today. I hope one of our old hospital gang will share this with you. Many hugs sent to you today and always.

“A spiritual connection with someone lasts forever, even when physical presence fades.”
― Danielle Barone

I am…

B…simply being…

I am blessed and I am grateful.

~Peace~

 

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