When I was in the Girl Scouts we had a song we sang, “Make new friends but keep the old; One is silver and the other gold”. I have had the privilege of making so many friends, but today I share with you some of my life-time friends which I would call “friends of the heart”. Seven women who have known me most of my life and who have made life so rich.
Though we come from different places, our friendship was founded in one church in which we all worshipped and served. These friends offer advice and support and sometimes just an ear to listen. One of the first Bible verses I ever learned was Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” This simple verse tells me two things – that friendship involves the deep emotion of love and that it endures over time. While each of us has other friends outside of this circle, these seven women and their husbands meet the true definition of friend.
The eight of us range in age from 57 to 63. I won’t tell you who’s the oldest, but I will tell you that I am the youngest. (Insert smile.) Some of us have known each other since elementary school, but we have all known each other for at least thirty years. We have each been married only once, but together we have been married over 310 years. Six of our eight husbands own their own businesses, in which we often find ourselves involved. We have five bachelor’s degrees and two master’s degrees. We have had many jobs: secretary, legal secretary, accountant, computer programmer, director, consultant, interior designer, school principal and teacher – from preschool through high school.
We have 21 children – 15 boys and 6 girls. Our children have attended 8 different schools and 13 different colleges. Fourteen of our children are now married and three are engaged, so our families continue to grow. Among our children we have businessmen and women, preachers and teachers, a doctor and nurses, a coach, a lawyer, a speech therapist, a painter and a musician. We currently have 25 grandchildren with one more on the way. And so our joy multiplies
Together we have shared: Laughter and tears, maternity clothes, pediatricians, physicians, dentists, orthodontists, school uniforms, recipes, science fair projects, business partnerships, homes, vehicles, vacations, office space, diets, workout routines, and hair dressers. Some of us have even shared plastic surgeons, but I won’t be telling you who – after all some things a girlfriend never tells!
Together we have survived: the death of three children, marital struggles, depression and abuse, bankruptcy, empty nests and the death of a spouse.
Together we have celebrated: Awards and achievements, championships, tailgate parties, homecoming queens, scholarships, graduations, birthdays, engagements, weddings, anniversaries, birthing babies and traveling together. We have cheered and celebrated every possible milestone of our children’s lives.
Together we have supported each other: through school setbacks and dropouts, loud parties, calls to the police, juvenile detention, drug and alcohol abuse, unwed pregnancy, countless fender-benders and speeding tickets, multiple health crises, including cancer, and burying those we love.
We have each lost at least one parent and several of us have lost both. We have learned to coordinate caring for our parents and our children at the same time. We have been known to have loud spirited discussions followed by prolonged periods of silence. We have sometimes taken different paths in our lives, but never drifted so far that a mere phone call doesn’t bring us all running to help. These friends are loyal and dedicated; they are honest and forgiving. They can make the ordinary extraordinarily fun.
Through the years I have learned that these are women I can count on to cheer me, to be honest with me, to grow with me. They encourage me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And in so doing they help me to be a better me. Though we have changed over the years, we have always had in common our faith in Jesus Christ. While we don’t all serve in the same church anymore, our faith hasn’t changed and is still the foundation for the friendships we share.
To our children and grandchildren – May you continue this tradition of friendship with each other as well as with others you meet along the way. May you remember the adventures and laughter our families have shared long after we are gone. May you have those in your lives who encourage you and grow with you as we have. And may God bless you with friends of the heart whose foundation of faith matches yours.
And this is what I pray for each of you – that your lives will be blessed with great friends as mine has, and that you will be the same good friend to others that these have been to me.
PS – The picture below was taken recently when 13 of the remaining 15 friends were able to get together. It’s a rare occasion!