It Takes a Village

22 06 2014
Me and my friend Kathy. You can tell by the hair it was the 80’s.

Me and my friend Kathy. You can tell by the hair it was the 80’s.

“Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. “ A little song I learned as a Brownie came full circle with a visit from my oldest friend. It’s a long way from Oregon to Louisiana. There’s been years of miles since Kathy left her home at 18 bound for college. We’ve seen each other a dozen or so times since then and have kept loosely in touch. Our correspondence gave us glimpses into each other lives and current on our big life events.

First day of Junior High.

First day of Junior High.

Our friendship is one of those magic ones, when we see each other, the years melt away and we connect with our old familiar friendship, no matter how different our lives are or how many years have slipped away. Kathy spent her visit between me and another old friend whose family friendship goes back further than our childhood. It took our buddy who lives so far away to get the two of us who only live a few miles from each other together.

Over dark, rich coffee at an old college diner, we shared our long buried memories of friends, school, pets, and the neighborhood we grew up in. Afterwards Kathy and I drove slowly up and down the streets of the town and went to visit some moms and dads, now in their 80’s, who raised us all. This time of year in Louisiana is lush and green. The crepe myrtles and magnolia trees are in full bloom with hot pink and white blossoms. It’s easy to forget the beauty of this river town.

Now and then. The yellowed photo is of us going to Girl Scout camp.

Now and then. The yellowed photo is of us going to Girl Scout camp.

It’s only with hindsight that I understand why it was important for Kathy to visit her childhood friends’ parents. In every visit with everyone we spent time with, it came up what a great neighborhood we grew up in. It was filled with young families in their first home. Our young years were spent with stay-at-home-moms and we walked to elementary school. We rode our bikes to each other’s houses with doors that stayed unlocked, had simple birthday parties with cake and ice cream, sleepovers, and lots of little girl giggles. We remembered old house numbers and old phone numbers (well…some of us). A remembrance of my dad having to “rescue” Kathy and her bike when she got suck in mud on her way to play with me made us smile.

The darkest thing that we had awareness of was that Kathy’s mom, our Girl Scout leader, died of cancer when we were 10. I was too young to comprehend how devastating that was to my young friend and those days it was believed the best way to deal with it, was by not talking about it. But all the parents understood the depth of this tragedy and all loved this little girl more than any of our other friends. I still felt that love with each hug that greeted us on our visits. My mom still calls her Little Kathy.

Sweet 16 and headed to the beach.

Sweet 16 and headed to the beach.

Many of us from that childhood neighborhood stayed friends as our families moved into newer neighborhoods with bigger homes and we went to different high schools. We shared those teen memories of driving and dating and first forbidden tastes of alcohol. I’m an only child and she’s the friend my parents invited on family vacations when I was a teenager, so they could enjoy their vacation and not have a bored teen spoiling their fun.

We’ve all lived full lives, each with it own ups and downs, blessings and challenges. What continued to come across in conversation was the gratitude for the lives we have led. It does indeed take a village to raise a child. With adult eyes, I realize that old neighborhood with it’s tree-lined streets was a true village. It raised us all and the safety and love that lived there, still lives on in each of us.

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21 responses

22 06 2014
Cathy Chester

I lived a parallel childhood in the Northeast, with best friends who still are best friends. Here’s to the villages who helped to raise us, and to the new friendships formed far away….

22 06 2014
conniemcleod

Cathy, the great thing is that we both know how lucky we were to have such a childhood.

22 06 2014
Juanita McGregor

Is Kathy the middle child in her family?

22 06 2014
conniemcleod

Juanita, she is the middle child of 3 girls.

22 06 2014
Jayne

Again, you make me smile, laugh and cry. I only wish we could discuss this over a glass of cool white wine… TONIGHT!!!! I too had a similar childhood in 70808. What lucky girls we are… miss you much. xoxo J

22 06 2014
conniemcleod

Jayne, me tooooooo. Hugs!

23 06 2014
Carol Cassara (@ccassara)

My childhood was different but it still took a village. I love this one.
C
http://www.carolcassara.com

23 06 2014
conniemcleod

Thanks Carol, I’m very aware that many and maybe most people did not have a childhood like mine. I was very lucky and the older I get I feel that blessing even more deeply.

23 06 2014
Haralee

It is amazing the lasting friendships of childhood. I too lived in a similar area with YWCA overnight camp. I am still friends with my friend from kindergarten. Another friend I have known since second grade and another since we were 13. I don’t see them often but they hold a place in my heart.

23 06 2014
conniemcleod

Haralee, thanks for stopping by. We are both lucky women to have enduring friendships.

24 06 2014
Elizabeth Arnett

Nice, Connie. Brings back a lot of memories for me of growing up in BR in the 50s and 60s. For me it was a magical time but I just didn’t know it.

24 06 2014
conniemcleod

Elizabeth, that’s the magic of a good childhood. We can only realize it when we’re adults. Thanks for stopping by.

24 06 2014
Jen

Beautiful. thanks for sharing with us. I love the photos, too! I also am so grateful to have three girlfriends still in my life from young childhood. One of which also lost a parent at age 10. In fact the first time I met her was the first day of school in 5th grade. She lived a block away and I had met her on the sidewalk on the way to school. I knew her Dad had died only a few weeks before but I was afraid to say anything. I didn’t have to. One of the first things she said to me was, “My dad died last month.” This is my friend through and through, to this day. Bold and honest with her feelings, and one of the main reasons why I love her. :)

24 06 2014
conniemcleod

One of the best things about being the age I am is the ability to see the gifts in my life. The long time friendships that remain in our lives are such a gift. Thanks for your heartfelt comment.

24 06 2014
mysocalledmidlife.net

Beatuful, Connie. Great evocative photos, too. There is nothing quite like connecting with old friends. Despite all the years, they remain something so special, etched deep inside us.

24 06 2014
conniemcleod

Thanks, somewhere I’ve got us all dressed up for a birthday when we were around 9, but I couldn’t lay my hands on those.

24 06 2014
loisaltermark

Beautiful piece. The street I grew up on was very much like your neighborhood — we all played with each other, all the parents looked out for all the kids, everyone went in and out of each other’s houses. It’s great to still be friends with some of those people — in some ways, they know you better than anyone because they were with you during the time that set the foundation for the rest of your life.

24 06 2014
conniemcleod

Lois, we were so blessed to have that kind of childhood!

27 06 2014
Musings on Motherhood and Mid-Life

It’s so nice to have the kinds of friends that can share fond memories with you of times from childhood. I have that with one friend in particular, and it’s pretty special.
Estelle

27 06 2014
conniemcleod

It’s such a gift.

27 06 2014
janieemaus

I’ve known my BFF for over 50 years! And am still great friends with five girls from high school. It’s wonderful to share so many memories.

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