Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In Real Life

I’d like to tell y’all a story about a remarkable group of women. They came together In the beginning because they all liked feathering their nests. And they liked helping others feather their nests. And, when all the nests were prettily feathered, they liked getting together and “oohing and ahhing” over all of the said featherings.

Now, if you saw them all together, you would be right in thinking that they were quite an odd assortment of folks. Among them were young mothers caring for their first babies as well as grandmothers who knew all there was to know about raising children. Some commuted to work, while others stayed home (and worked!) There were single women and newlyweds and those who knew the agony of a painful divorce. There were those who had been married to the loves of their lives for many, many years and those who had found that, for them at least, love really was sweeter the second time around. Some had lots of money while others struggled to make ends meet. They were tall, they were short. They were blonde, they were brunette. Thin, not-so-thin. They were as different as they could be. Yet, as different as they were, they became fast friends.

Oh, the fun they had! All of the “aunties” rejoiced when a new baby was born into the group. When children cut their first teeth or went to first grade or graduated from high school or college, everyone shared in the bittersweet excitement of the event and were amazed anew at “how fast they grow.” When there was a wedding, they all became Maids and Matrons-of-Honor. Everything was a cause to celebrate, from new jobs to new cars. Mostly, though, they celebrated each other.

Just about every night, you could find these smart, funny women gathered together at their meeting place; some with a cup of tea or coffee, others with a beer or a glass of wine. They just enjoyed being together. Some loved it so much, they brought along their family members who were welcomed warmly and made a part of the group. They shared recipes and weekend plans. They debated who was sexier, McDreamy or McSteamy and who should be the next Design Star. The only rule for conversation was “if you can’t say something nice, stay out of the discussion;” snarkiness would not be tolerated. Ladies, all of them, they were also given to great belly laughs and slapstick silliness, which was obvious to anyone who had been at the party where being properly dressed meant you had a pair of panties on your head.

What knit the fabric of their friendship together so tightly, however, was something more profound than fun and laughter. Ulysses S. Grant said, “The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.” Had these women been his friends, he would have treasured them above all others. When one of their own was in the midst of dark hours, they gathered around and became a great well of caring and compassion. When a son or a daughter went to war, not only did the friends offer up prayers, good thoughts and a shoulder for Mama to cry on, they sent letters of encouragement and packages of goodies to the soldiers. When illness or death overtook family or friends, they became the wall of strength on which the worried and the grief-stricken could lean. When life became too much to handle for whatever reason, they became shelter from the storm, offering words of encouragement and sometimes, if needed, gentle admonition. Their arms were quick to hold and their ears were willing to listen.

You may be thinking that this is certainly not exceptional behavior for very close friends; indeed, it happens all the time. But what you don’t know, what made this group of friends extraordinary, is that, with a few exceptions, most of them had never been within 100 miles of each other. Their homes dotted the map on both coasts and all points in between, from the cold north to the deep south. Most of them, in fact, had never heard the others’ voices nor seen the others’ faces. They had come together on an internet message board to share decorating wisdom and had ended up sharing their lives.

I am one of the lucky ones who have actually met a few of these precious cyber friends. Each time, as I was preparing for a trip to meet one or two of them, my family spared no words in letting me know what a hare-brained, dangerous adventure I was about to undertake. Shaking their heads, they said things like, “You don’t know anything about them. They could be ax murderesses or perverts!” Or, “Are you sure you want to do this? Bad, evil things could happen to you!” I knew, that under other circumstances, their concerns would be justified. I just couldn’t make them understand that this situation was different; that these women were not internet predators setting me up for some horrible crime. “How do you know?’ they asked. “I just know,” I said. It was difficult for me to explain how, in fact, they are as real to me as anybody I know in real life. You see, I’ve been on the receiving end of their love and support and encouragement. I’ve laughed and joked and had fun with them. I look forward to talking to them every day. My only regret is that I met them too late to be a part of the “panty party.”


barb said...

I do think I know those wonderful folks......a caring bunch that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Anonymous said...

you wrote that so beautifully that I have tears in my eyes right and all these wonderful people are truly good friends and the most caring bunch of people I am blessed to know.


Anonymous said...

boo hoo.....daggone you're making my makeup run !! thank you so much for your heartfelt words...I think you speak for all of us ...most certainly for me. love y'all and thanks for letting me be a part of this wonderful ministry of women !


Anonymous said...

Ya done it again, girl! Beautifully written blog entry that reflects the sentiments of SO many of us that are fortunate enough to be a part of this wonderful group of friends.

Now, excuse me while I go search for that box of tissues.


Janice said...

Good Golly Gee Whiz Bee.... you done took the words right out of my heart......

You betcha we're BLESSED to all have each other !!!

Now I'm gonna go follow Kim to see if she found those tissues....

fondly - janice

Anonymous said...

I came to your blog to listen to your wonderful music (you've got GREAT taste) and to see if you'd written anything new and came across this entry that I hadn't noticed before. You are an amazing writer Bee!! Truly amazing!!! I now know that I not only WANT to meet you in real life, I HAVE TO meet you!!! You are way too special to me not to!
Thank you for writing such wonderful things about our lovely family, you definitely hit the nail on the head with your description!
Oodles of love, Julie :)
P.S. anyone have any tissues left????

Anonymous said...

My life is richer for having you in it. And it's never too late for a pantie party!

Unknown said...

thinking of you today,
reading some of your archived posts if that's okay

this is incredibly beautiful . wow.
how blessed you are.

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