Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Women On My Walk

For several months now, Grams has been considering writing a series of entries about the women who are or have been part of my life.  Yesterday while making plans with a friend to go and see the upcoming movie "Sex and the City 2" I thought again about how important other women have been in my life.  I've been acutely aware of their importance for the past few years, since I've been dealing with Grandad's ill health and the loss of both of my parents. 

Several years ago I received an email with the subject line "Don't Forget Your Girlfriends."  I liked it a lot and saved it.  I have re-read it a number of times over the years and passed it on to my daughter when she got married.  I don't know it's origin, but here it is. 
I sat on a summer day, drinking iced tea and visiting with my mother.

"Don't forget your girlfriends," Mother advised, clinking the ice cubes in her glass. “No matter how much you love your husband, you are still going to need girlfriends. Remember to go places with them now and then; and do things with them, even when you don't necessarily want to. And remember that girlfriends are not only friends, but sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers and other relatives too. Women supporting and relating to other women is our responsibility and our gift.”

"What a funny piece of advice," I thought. "Hadn't I just gotten married? Hadn't I just joined the couple-world? I was now a married woman, for goodness sake, not some young girl who needed friends!"

But I listened to my Mom. I kept in contact with my girlfriends and even found some new ones along the way. As the years tumbled by, one after another, I gradually came to understand that Mom really knew what she was talking about!

Here is what I know: Girl friends bring casseroles and scrub your bathroom when you need help; Girlfriends keep your children and your secrets. Girlfriends give advice when you ask … sometimes you take it and some-times you don't. Girlfriends don't always tell you you're right, but they usually tell the truth. Girlfriends still love you, even when they disagree with your choices. Girlfriends laugh with you and don't need canned jokes to start the laughter. Girlfriends pull you out of jams. Girlfriends don't keep a calendar of who hosted the others last big party.

Girlfriends will celebrate for your son or daughter when they get married or have a baby, in whichever order that happens. Girlfriends are there for you in an instant, and when the hard times come. Girlfriends will drive through blizzards, rainstorms, hail, heat, and gloom of night to get to you when your hour of need is desperate.

Girlfriends listen when you lose a job or a friend. Girlfriends listen when your children break your heart. Girlfriends listen when your parents' minds and bodies fail. Girlfriends cry with you when someone you loved dies. Girlfriends support you when the men in your life let you down. Girlfriends help you pick up the pieces when men pack up and go.  Girlfriends rejoice at what makes you happy, and are ready to go out and kill what makes you unhappy.
Times passes. Life happens. Distance separates. Children grow up. Marriages fail. Love waxes and wanes. Hearts break. Careers end. Jobs come and go. Parents die. Colleagues forget favors. Men don't call when they say they will. But girlfriends are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you have to walk that lonesome valley, and you have to walk it for yourself, your girlfriends will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you. Or come in and carry you out.

My daughters, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law, nieces, cousins, extended family, and friends bless my life. The world wouldn't be the same without them, and neither would I.

When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead, nor did we know how much we would need each other. Every day, we need each other still.
Over the next few months, I'm planning to do a short series of blog entries about the women who have become my support system.  I'm not sure yet exactly how many entries there will be.  Some will feature individual women and some will feature groups.  But I'm looking forward to telling you about some of the remarkable women who have made my walk both easier and more worthwhile.  Some of them are relatives and some of them are friends.  Each of them is accomplished, amazing and special.  These women have laughed with me, played with me, cried with me, eaten with me, fed me, encouraged me, prayed for me, advised me, inspired me, drank with me, celebrated with me, given me a shot of reality when I needed it, and one or two of them helped me "bury the bodies."

So when you see an ad for "Sex and the City 2" think about your girlfriends and all the amazing women on your walk.  Think about how they have been there for you and you've been there for them.  Women are amazing and wonderful creatures!

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