The blessings of long-term friendships and the benefits of reaching outMarch 20, 2016
How many of you have reunited with girlfriends from your long ago past? The benefits of reaching out to old friends are endless, dear readers.
When I left ‘Kankakee by the Sea’ to attend college, in my mind, there was no looking back, darlings! I was so very excited to explore life and I dreamed of the unknown; what would college life hold in store, who would become my knight in shining armor, my prince charming; how many little darlings would we have (I wanted four but was an RH negative mom so I could only have two), what city would I raise our family and would I travel the road of my dreams, darlings?
I knew the world was my oyster and mine for the taking. I always saw the glass half full, even when it wasn’t, and I am glad. I dreamed of surprises coming my way with giant anticipation and hope.
Now, so many years later, today, I am looking back though…I never stop looking forward! My life never ceases to amaze me in large and tiny ways.
I continue to have my unanticipated and wonderful surprises. My last big surprise was reconnecting with two girlfriends who I have not seen in years and guess where they are from, darlings? Can you believe, Kankakee by the Sea! They found me and sent notes to my Honey Good Facebook page! Of course, I answered and we are in contact at least monthly. How special is that!
Thinking about my vintage friendships I decided I would ask a few friends I continue to keep in touch with across the years and miles to paint a short history of where their lives have taken them. Two are from Kankakee by the Sea and three from Honolulu, Hawaii. I emailed these girls and explained my thoughts. They were excited and delighted! So was I.
Other than my family, I feel there is no greater bond than the sisterhood of friendship.
Here are what my friends are up to
CHERYE: I met my first girlfriend, Cherye, when we moved to Honolulu in the 1980’s. This charming girl with red hair and freckles and a New Orleans’ accent to boot, approached me at an open house and after a few moments of talk invited me to lunch. I accepted. During lunch we discussed the menu. I said, “ I am watching my weight now that I live in Honolulu. I don’t want to get zaftig,” the Yiddish word for a plump or buxom woman. She leaned over and said in her adorable drawl, “Are you a little Jewish girl?” I replied, “Yes, are you?” “Yes,” was her reply and we started to laugh and giggle… we have stayed in touch for the past twenty-five years!
CHEREYE’S E-MAIL: “I’m still fundraising. Last November I chaired the Opera Ball raising $411,000 up from 2014’s $176,000. I just love working with people. I have made my very best friends through my volunteer work. It is like being a CEO but only for one year. I owe my degree in ‘philanthropy’ to the Junior League. I’m on the Opera Board and the New Orleans Museum of Art board and just resigned from the Honolulu Museum Art Board. Jim and I are still collecting photography with plans for our collection to go the Museum one day. We are traveling too. Miss you but love keeping up with you. Many of your stories are from our Honolulu history. You and Shelly should come see us in Honolulu. Love, Cherye”
EMILY: We met in Honolulu. We were seated next to one another. She was artsy, a writer, a collector of art, and a beautiful free spirit. We will always be best friends. Her comment was the only one I remember at my late husband’s funeral, “I am here to listen to you.” We lost touch when I moved to Chicago and she moved to the Mainland. I searched for her. She found me ten years later! My phone rang one night on the holiest of holiest days in Judaism…Yom Kippur. I still remember where I was standing when I picked up the phone! The voice was Emily’s! OMG darlings, I was over the top elated. We are in constant touch. We have both suffered loss. Emily’s son, a wonderful, loving, and bright young man, was murdered.
EMILY’S E-MAIL: “I left Hawaii in 1998 settled in San Francisco. I then moved to Southern Virginia. to be closer to where I grew up and to be nearer to my mother. I met Ron in 2007, the man of my dreams; tall, handsome, successful, happy and adventurous. We married and moved to Connecticut. We had a ball. Ron was the project manager. for the sixth largest building company in the US. I made many friends. Then came a call, to Ron, to move to Northern Virginia to build a new Army Hospital. It was perfect because he was a retired officer and had flown helicopters in Vietnam. Ron and I still live in Northern Virginia. I have a fantastic life enjoying everything Virginia has to offer. The Kennedy Center, Ford’s theatre, Ron and I act in plays and I chair the social committee where we live. These past five years have been devastating and uplifting. Devastating because Seth was murdered. As you know he was the video producer for the town of Kent. Seth was divorced and was dating a woman from Portland who had an admirer who drove to Kent and murdered my sweet, funny talented boy. Three years were spent in trials with a conviction and he has twenty- three more years in jail. I was destroyed for quite a while and am still missing him so much. I maintain a fabulous relationship with my daughter-in-law, two grand girls, a step grandson and her new husband who I adore. I love my daughter Kaitlin and grandbabies. I could write a book about my experiences. Good night dear friend. I hope we see each other soon. Love to Shelly and especially to Jennifer and Kim. Love and misses. Emily”
JANICE: We grew up together in ‘Kankakee by the Sea’. I wrote about Janice. She was the ‘It’ girl at Kankakee High School. She was Prom Queen and this and that queen and the main reason I call her the ‘It’ girl is because she handled her popularity with grace. She found my site, HoneyGood.com, and wrote a comment. I reached out with a returned comment. We are now connected. Isn’t that special? I hope I see her and her flower garden one day!
JANICE’S E-MAIL: “Received your email and what a great idea. I don’t think I can sum up my life in one paragraph so use what you want to. I grew up showing American Saddle Bred horses from the time I was three through college. I married my high school sweet heart, the love of my life. I had a career in oral surgery for forty- five years. In 1994 Louis was transferred to South Carolina with his company. What an eye opener. The first time I went to the market and saw a fifty- pound bag of rice the clerk asked me, ‘Do you want a case Quarter?’ ‘What is that,’ I asked. ‘A case quarter is a quarter, not two dimes and a nickel!’ ‘Oh my,’ I thought. ‘I have a lot to learn about the ol’ South.’ After thirty-two years I finally get it. We are a little crazy down here but we just give it some sweet tea, smile and go on our merry way. Through the years Lou and I traveled; our favorites places…Hawaii and Greece. I love to garden…flowers. I love my grandchildren and two sons. As I told you I live in a town where there are no bugs; where the plantation owners had their summer homes in order to leave the swamp lands. It is beautiful. I used to laugh when retired people had to check their calendars for doctor appointments. Now it is us! As you say Susan, you make lemonade out of lemons. Take care and good luck with your blog. Warmly, Janice”
JUDY: Judy and I met as young marrieds. Her ex-husband was our family doctor and the four of us were social friends. We traveled to Hawaii. We decorated their Christmas tree and then we moved and lost touch. Judi found my blog (no idea how) and we reconnected! I am going to see her in Portland this May!
JUDY’S E-MAIL: “Never say never” and “God has a very funny sense of humor” are recurring lessons learned in my adult life. I met Honey in Kankakee by the Sea when I was in my twenties. At that time I was married to a physician and the mother of a young son. A few years after Honey moved to Hawaii we moved with our three children to Florida. I had known my marriage was troubled but I was ‘never’ going to be a divorced person. A year later I was a single parent. I had a Bachelor’s degree in Education but I was ‘never’ going to be a teach again.’ This time it may have been God’s sense of humor as I found myself working in a kindergarten classroom and loving it for the next eighteen years and graduated to teaching college for ten years. I remarried an amazing man (29 years ago) and in 1989 we built our dream home in Florida. We were ‘never’ moving again.’ Now I am sure God is shaking with laughter because we have moved twelve times! In addition to my career and other volunteer opportunities (Junior League, church, children’s schools) I found myself in an unlikely place as a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Florida Commission on Ministry (another example of God’s lovely humor.) To experience walking along side another in their path has helped me in my own personal search. Earlier I might have ‘dared’ to say I would ‘never live outside the Southeast’ but I am now a part time resident of Portland Oregon and Florida! I have 3.5 grandchildren (twins and a boy 16 months and one due in July) who live in the Pacific Northwest. In the last three plus years my husband and I have faced betrayal from our former closest best friends in business. Fortunately all is well in business. Along with the difficult times has come a clear understanding of what is important in life. Material things are wonderful but it’s the people whom you love and who love you in return that are the most important. The rest is ‘just gravy’ and I think God will not laugh at that.” Hugs, Judi
SHARON: I could not recall our exact meeting so I asked Sharon. She repied: “I think we met for the first time when I was president of Hadassah. I was looking for young women who were interested in revitalizing the chapter. I’m not sure if it was Carolyn or Trudy who introduced us. I immediately felt a connection with you. Unfortunately we didn’t live close to each other, and I think that’s what prevented us from becoming even better friends. You always had a smile on your face and I have always been drawn to people with a positive persona.”
Sharon always had and still has a smile on her beautiful face. She was full of vitality and I was attracted to her also. So much so I called her on the phone one day in Honolulu to tell her there was a great home for sale on my side of the Island. She was excited to move but her twin lived in Kailua and she stayed put. Years later we reconnected when she found my site, HoneyGood.com and sent me a message. Of course I answered by email. We got on the phone and talked for an hour and have been in touch since! Though we live miles apart it is our Aloha and kindred spirits that keeps us together!
SHARON’S EMAIL: “I am a wife and mother. I was a former foreign language and etiquette teacher. I am an artist. I am very involved in my community. Steve and I resided in Hawaii for thirty years. We now live in Southern Florida. We traveled the world extensively before I started a boutique travel agency on cruising. Over the past years I have been focusing my efforts on raising money for the Pap Corps, Champions for Cancer Research, funding Sylvester’s Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Southern Florida. I run numerous Pap cruises in order to help fund cancer research. Such cruises allow me to give meaningful donations to help find a cure. South Florida women and men have indeed donated more than $50 million through Pap, a cause near and dear to my heart. Love, Sharon”
As I sit outside, at our pool, on a beautiful southern California morning with my cup of coffee in my hand — with lots of cream and sugar — I look back on my relationships with some of my girlfriends and feel such pleasure and warmth. I am overwhelmed that I have friends who reopened the door to rediscovering me or stayed in touch with me over the years. To those of you girlfriends I have not mentioned, I want to thank you for keeping in touch. You, darlings, have all enriched my life in some large or small way and I am hopeful that you feel I have enriched yours!
Darlings, reach out to an old friend! The benefits of reaching out to old friends include so many emotional rewards.