Near the top of the list among the women Grams draws strength from are my neighbors. Some of them are not just neighbors, they're good friends. There are quite a few of them with whom I have a casual acquaintance, but two of them have become really close friends.
Mary Lou is my closest neighbor. We've lived next door to each other for more than twenty years now. She's the neighbor I can always go to if I need to borrow something or need help with almost anything. She and her husband, Ron, are exceptionally good neighbors to everyone in the neighborhood. They have almost everyone's spare keys; block parties are generally held in their driveway; and if you want to catch up on what's going on in the neighborhood, you can just pull up a lawn chair in their driveway. Eventually everyone stops there to chat.
Mary Lou is the mother and grandmother I want to be. I have always admired the relationship she has with all four of her adult children. They are all successful and productive adults who love to come home and visit. They talk on the phone regularly and although some of them live several hundred miles away, she is involved in their lives in a positive way. As often as is physically possible, she attends ballgames, performances and other things that her grandchildren are involved in.
Diane lives about five houses down on the other side of the street. She is the mother of one teenage girl. Diane and I relate mostly about the "joys" of raising girls. She often listened to my tales of woe when my kids were teenagers and I've been able to do the same for her. Mostly we're just able to laugh at each others' stories. I think the fact that my kids turned out okay gives her hope that her's will too. Diane and her husband Clayton are the owners of a big SUV, that usually makes them the designated drivers when we all go out together.
The three of us have shared laughter, tears, and more than a few cocktails. We've supported each other through raising kids, sick parents, husbands with health problems, home improvement projects gone horribly wrong, budget squeezes, and the deaths of our parents and grandparents. We've oohed and aahed over each others kids dressed in prom clothes and wedding gowns. We've been to bridal showers, baby showers and parties together. And, we've gained and lost many pounds together.
The three of us have done all those things women do for each other. We've cooked for each other, played games, shared recipes, complained to each other, and, most Friday evenings, we all go out to dinner together. They're part of what I call the Friday Night Dinner Club. We all pile into Diane's big SUV and just choose a restaurant and all go out to dinner. More about this group in a later post.
I think part of what makes our friendship special is that we're at three different stages of our lives. We're about ten years apart in our ages, one in her sixties, one in her fifties, and one in her forties. Each of us knows that the others have been where we are or will be there soon. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that someone else has gone through the same thing we have and has survived to tell the tale. These are two of the women who make my walk a littler easier and a lot more fun. I'm glad we're neighbors and I'm glad we're friends.