Friendship – what a great creation that was! To have at least one, really close, long lasting friendship is an absolute treasure. In Girl Scouts, we used to sing a song with this refrain: “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” I think about those lines every time I talk with Marty or Virginia. Marty is my “silver” friend. At 30, she is a generation younger than I. Virginia, at 93, is my “gold” friend, because she is about a generation and a half older.
I met them both at church. Marty was in high school and active in the youth group. I happened to be one of the youth leaders for that group. She and I just hit it off. I’ve always admired her artistic talents and sense of humor; we stayed in touch while she was in college. She came back to the area after graduation, started working and we were in the same knitting group for a while. Now, she’s married and living about an hour or so away. We stay in touch via email and Facebook and try to get together a couple of times a year. I told Marty (and her mom) that I would claim her as my daughter in a second.
Virginia and I always seemed to end up sitting on the same pew (we both preferred to be towards the back). She sat next to the aisle and I probably sat about mid-way down the pew. It was an evolution of sorts as we got used to seeing each other, then speaking, then finally, sitting next to each other. She called me her “other daughter” and I felt like I was with my maternal grandmother who had passed away years before. Virginia’s daughter lives in Miami and several years ago moved her mother there so they could be closer as Virginia aged. We stay in touch through telephone calls and handwritten notes.
We’ve shared joys and heartaches over the years. I’ve learned more about graceful acceptance from both of them as Marty’s first baby and daughter died at birth and Virginia left her home, friends and community, without complaint, to live in Florida at her daughter’s request.
This picture was taken at a baby shower for Marty held in August. She and I are holding a photo of Virginia. On her lap is an old family teddy bear she has been keeping for her first great-grandchild. Since this photo was taken, we have celebrated the safe arrival of Marty’s first son and Virginia’s first great-grandson.
May the blessings of silver and gold friendships be a part of their lives and yours!
I don’t get too charged up about compliments. It is a nice practice to speak words of encouragement and a simple remark like “You look great today!” can really lift someone’s spirits. But too often, compliments can be like “the handshake that hides the snake.” *
“Wow, that’s some shirt!” says nothing and everything. The other day as I crossed paths with a guy on the sidewalk, he said, “Hey pretty lady. You look good for over 40.” I laughed; it was funny. But it was certainly a bass-ackward compliment.
Not long ago, I received what I consider a very real compliment. I don’t believe my co-worker was aware she was giving a compliment, but I heard it and was deeply touched by it. We were talking about pet names for loved ones, her great grandchildren in particular. As she began to share something with me, she started by saying, “I can say this to you.” She then finished her comments.
She and I are probably pretty close in age, but our ethnic backgrounds and our lives are very different. “I can…” means she trusts me with her thoughts. “…say this…” means she trusts me enough to say the words aloud without fearing the possible reaction to those words. “…to you.” means that we really have a relationship. That six word sentence made my day. I have safely tucked it away in my heart with other treasures.
Look for an opportunity to give such a gift. And pay attention – someone may be trying to do the same for you. You don’t want to miss it!
*(Smiling Faces Sometimes, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, my favorite version recorded by Undisputed Truth in 1971.)
Marfe, Melanie, Amy, me and Carol
Every year I get together with four of my dearest friends from college for a long weekend of catching up. Scattered from Chicago to Vermont, and Alexandria to North and South Carolina, we’ve managed to carve out 4 days a year for over 25 years. We descend on the Sullivan’s Island, SC home of one of our group in late spring. Sunny but not-too-hot days are perfect for whatever we may want to do; this year it was kayaking and a palm tree painting adventure. The warm, slow evenings are our favorite, because this is when we drink wine, talk a lot and cook together.
Historically a bunch of planner types (we have lightened up over time), we usually pick a theme for the food fest before we arrive. However, this year we decided on a smorgasbord approach – bring a recipe or two you haven’t made and we’ll experiment on each other. With enough variety on hand you can toss out the losers. Drink enough wine and it all tastes good!
Dinner is served on the second floor piazza as darkness settles over the marsh. Music, laughter and the noises of insect nightlife can go on for hours. Old memories are summoned and new ones are made. The still waters of long standing friendships get deeper.
One of our all time favorites was the coconut cake, delicious on a warm summer evening (or any time of year). Invite someone over and enjoy!
3 12-ounce packages of frozen coconut
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of sour cream
Mix well and chill overnight.
1 box yellow butter cake mix (a bit better if you add about ½ tsp. almond flavoring to batter)
Bake the cake according to the directions in two 9” layer pans. Split the layers. Cover with icing made day before. Gently wrap and put back in the frig for 3 days before cutting.
If you can’t wait 3 days, that’s ok! Just give it a little more time in the frig so the icing really soaks in.
The act of sharing ranks right up there in my list of favorite things. For the most part, you “win” no matter which end you’re on – the sharing end or the receiving end. And it tends to spur more of the same. When my neighbor shared an oversized zucchini with me recently, it resulted in some zucchini bread for both of us.
My dear friend was kind enough to allow me to share (read: unload) my concerns and frustrations with her at lunch last Friday. Getting all of that stuff out of my head and heart truly lightened my load – a pretty wonderful gift. And I’m more than willing to do this for someone else because I know how much it means.
Whether you are sharing a plant from your yard or a word of encouragement; whether you are sharing with a friend or doing a random act of kindness for a stranger; sharing can have some amazing results.
So today I’m going to share a simple recipe that someone shared with me. It’s a new hot weather favorite side dish from Bon Appetit. Enjoy!
- 1 15- to 15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove, pressed
- 1/3 cup (packed) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Coarse kosher salt
Rinse and drain chickpeas. Combine with chopped fresh basil, chopped Italian parsley, fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and pressed garlic clove in medium bowl. Add grated Parmesan cheese and toss gently to blend all ingredients thoroughly. Season chickpea salad to taste with coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature. Can be done ahead!