This week's Flashback Friday is all about friends, and I'm thrilled! Here's Linda's prompt:
Who was your first friend? Did you have lots of friends when you were growing up or just one or two close friends? Share memories from your childhood friends. For women, were "mean girls" an issue when you were growing up? Or were you a "mean girl"?! How did your friends shape who you are today, for good or not-so-good? Do you still keep up with your childhood friends today?The earliest friend I can remember was a little boy named Johnny who lived down the street from us when my dad was stationed in Rhode Island in the Navy. I was 5 when we met, and he was the sole attendee of my 6th birthday party. That sounds sad, but honestly, back then birthday parties weren't what they are now. I was terribly excited that my mother made me a cake complete with coconut and jelly beans (my birthday is in April and sometimes comes near Easter) and allowed me to invite a friend over. She also bought those really cool candy words to put on the cake - they were hard as rocks and had no flavor - what a disappointment! ;) I also remember going to Johnny's house for watermelon. While we were eating, I happened to sneeze on my watermelon, and Johnny's mother said, "You still have to eat it, Susan." I couldn't understand why I wouldn't eat it! And that is the extent of my memories of my first real friend.
This is Johnny and me on Easter Sunday, April 11, 1971, two days before my birthday. Can you see the excitement on our faces?! Can you feel it?!!
I was a very shy child, so I never had a lot of friends at once; usually just one or two good friends each year in school. There were Patricia and Diane, the sisters who lived in the trailer park down the hill on our dirt road in Columbia, SC. I don't remember being in their class at school, but we played together when we were at home. We made mud pies and rode our bikes together and rode the school bus together (so they must have gone to the same school! Duh! LOL) Years later, after I was married, I saw Patricia and Diane at a church in Biloxi, MS! That was a huge surprise, and it was fun seeing them again, but that was the last time I saw them. At school, my friends were Jan and Michelle for the couple of years we lived in Columbia. I thought it was pretty neat that Jan's middle name was Susan (my name), and Michelle wanted to be a boy, so insisted that we call her 'Mitchell' rather than Michelle. We always sat together in class. I think our school must have been experimenting with some sort of free-style classroom, because I don't remember having desks at this school; we all
I met Stacey in the middle of 4th grade when we moved from Columbia. She and I remained friends through our high school years, and she introduced me to Wes, my husband, when we were 15. Stacey and I lost touch after high school, when we each married, but I've found her again on Facebook. It seems odd after all these years that we now have grown children. Amazing!
Some friends of our from Columbia had also moved to Greenville for their dad to go to Bible college. They were my parents' closest friends when we first moved back to Greenville, and when my mother got sick, it was natural that I would stay with them. Their daughter, Jenny, was a couple of years older than me, but we became pretty good friends. I ended up living with Jenny's family for several months that fall because of my mother's prolonged hospital stay. Jenny and I shared a bedroom, and we fought like sisters. One day we decided to divide the bedroom! I had the side with the door on it. Jenny's dad graduated Bible college and they moved back to the Columbia area. I heard from her occasionally through our teen years, and the last I knew of her she was getting married. I reconnected with her two brothers on Facebook and have corresponded a couple of times with Jenny, but we haven't rekindled our friendship. It seems that our lives have gone in opposite directions of each other. Even though we didn't keep up with Jenny's family, I have never forgotten what faithful, true friends they were to my parents when they needed help. Her mother passed away several years ago, and I'm sad that I never got to thank her personally for all they did.
Shortly after we moved from Columbia to Greenville, SC, is when I really did meet my forever friend, Deborah. Her dad and mine were in Bible college together and had become good friends, so naturally our families got together some on the weekends. This was also around the time my mother got sick and had to have dialysis treatments three times a week. So during the summer, I would walk over to Deborah's house on Mama's treatment days and pretend I was a part of their large-to-me family - she had two brothers and two sisters, and it was loud and crazy most of the time! For this only child, it was tons of fun. Except that her older brother made me mad almost every day. He was such a pain. While I was at their house I would help clean up every day and Deborah and I would wash the dishes after lunch - while using the scrub brush in the baby bottles to make "milk" out of the suds (remember that, Deborah?) yakking the whole time and probably taking twice as long to do the dishes as we should have. Deborah and I both loved to read; so many afternoons we'd walk to the little branch library near her house and get tons of books. Other afternoons we'd walk to the laundromat, pulling a wagon full of clothes, and do the laundry for her mom. I don't have very many specific memories of those days, but I do know that I felt like a part of the family. I don't remember ever dreading to go over there, so I must have enjoyed it! LOL
After our dads graduated Bible college, Deborah's dad was called to pastor a church in Georgia, but Deborah and I remained friends. We'd write to each other occasionally, but her family still lived close enough that we could visit every now and then. Every time we saw each other, we'd just pick right back up where we left off. Her family came when my mother died. Looking back, I don't think I'd have known what to do if the roles had been reversed, but we just carried on as usual - talking, laughing, just being friends.
Deborah is on my right, the maid of honor at our wedding
October 12, 1984
October 12, 1984
Deborah was my maid of honor when I got married. By then, she was back in Greenville to go to the same Bible college our dads had gone to. While Wes was in Air Force Basic Training, I spent a good bit of time with Deborah in her dorm room. Then I was the one who moved away. She asked me to be in her wedding when her turn came, but we were living in South Dakota and I couldn't afford to fly out to SC for the wedding. Then we started having children, and guess what? We each had three children, and they're all near the same ages! She had a girl and then two boys, and I had two boys and then my girl. Both our husbands are pastors, and they act like they're the ones who've known each other since they were children. We've remained close friends all these years - I'm thinking right about 35 years now. We don't talk on the phone very often, but when we do, it's like we've never even been apart. Oh, and her brother who was such a pain? He's a pastor now, too, and a grandfather! And her youngest sister's husband is my dad's pastor. It's almost like we're sisters! ;) Actually we are . . . sisters in Christ, and when we get to Heaven we can yak for about a million years. And we probably will.