Back to blog
Share your work with family and friends!

No matter how far apart I am from my girl friend, Christine, or how long it’s been since we met, I know two things: when we get together again, it’s as if we’d never been apart, and, no matter what, we’re there for each other.

Christine and I grew up across the street from one another in Scotland, both only children. She’s six weeks older than I and we’re like sisters. She lives in Maple Cross, a tiny town just outside the outer rim of London (the M-25). I live in California. We don’t see much of each other face to face because she never has the money to visit the U.S. and now the pandemic has prevented me from visiting her since 2018.

When we were first separated (1960, when I moved to Canada), we relied entirely on letters. You remember those. We sat down and put pen to paper and wrote about our latest happenings–in school, at home, maybe on vacation, if it was summertime and we actually went somewhere. Later, when I had enough money, we resorted to semi-annual telephone calls, which cost me $1 a minute. We tried to limit ourselves to an hour. Now, we have Skype and WhatsApp and Zoom and Facebook and, and, and. It’s made communication so much easier and cheaper.

We both married, and we both had children. Her daughter, Rachel, is five months younger than my son, Craig. They know each other a little, but they won’t be “pals” in the long run. Either Christine or I will die first and one will notify the other of the death. Whether that will happen when the second one dies depends largely on which of us goes first. Rachel will notify Craig. I doubt Craig will notify Rachel, but I’ll never know.

All of this is very similar to the relationship my mother, Flora, had with her friend, Janet. The same strictures apply. They met as children in primary school in Scotland and, no matter where they were in the world, they experienced the same sense of picking up where they left off. They met in 1916 and were friends until my mother died in 1986. I warned Janet when I knew my mother was dying by writing her an aerogramme. This was a flimsy blue sheet that was used regularly for international letters. I wanted her to be somewhat prepared, if that’s possible. When Mother died, I wrote another aerogramme and said I’d send the dishes.

The infamous dishes were a set of Flemish Green Spode that Mother and Janet had bought together because they couldn’t afford a full set on their own. They basically set up a tontine. The idea was that whoever outlived the other would get all the dishes and the set would be together again. Sort of (breakages did occur). So I planned to send the dishes, but Janet wrote back and said that she had no children, so I was going to inherit all the dishes and I should just hang on to the ones I had inherited.

In 2002, clearly many years later, I received an unexpected, unexplained box. When I opened it, Janet’s remaining Spode dishes were in it and I knew she must have died. The aerogramme from her nephew, Peter, arrived a couple of days later.

Christine and I have no such connection and I don’t think our children have the same sense of the importance of our relationship in the way that I did. My family was the one that kept moving and the idea that we actually had long-term friendships was deeply precious to me. I easily saw the value of Mother and Janet’s lives, and treasured mine and Christine’s.

We use the word friend very loosely. Many more people are called friend than are actually friends. That deep connection between people you can trust, you can rely on, and you can enjoy by picking up the thread the moment you meet again. My mother had a relationship like that and so do I. Such a gift.

Leave your comment...