Wednesday, December 31, 2008

To Friendships - Old & New Part II

"Make new friends, but keep the old...One is silver and the other gold...A circle is round, it has no end...That's how long, I will be your friend...A fire burns bright, it warms the heart...We've been friends, from the very start...You have one hand, I have the other...Put them together, We have each other...Silver is precious, Gold is too...I am precious, and so are you...You help me, and I'll help you and together we will see it through...Across the land...Across the sea...Friends forever...We will always be."

That old Girl Scout song so described my feeling about my long time childhood friend, Denise...'friends forever we will always be'...and then I moved so far away and somehow everything changed. One day I realized that I no longer knew where any of my childhood friends were, or what they were doing. Even that 'best friend', whom I had been so close to, was lost to me. There have been many times throughout those 26 years that I have thought about her and wondered where she was and what was going on in her life, and several of those times I made some feeble attempt to find her, always unsuccessfully. Recently I have been very nostalgic... rummaging through old photos and scrapbooks, trolling the Internet in search of familiar names and places, joining '' in search of some illusive glimpse of what is long past. I'm not sure what has made this time different, but it has been...I have been more focused in my search, more determined to find her. I do not miss the place where I used to live...the hot, dry, dusty desert...but some of the people from those early years I miss a lot. I have found a few other 'old friends' and former classmates along the way and have enjoyed chatting with them, getting re-acquainted, learning where they are, where they've been...but that one special friend that I wanted most to find seemed to be eluding me...And then it happened...

This past Saturday I found her!

She lives (and has for 20 years) just 3 hours away from me! We have spoken twice on the phone since then...our face-to-face reunion will take place this Friday on her granddaughter's 5th birthday. We have a lot of catching up to do. I am over-joyed to have found her and at the same time broken hearted that we have missed out on so much we could have shared these past 20 years while we have been living only 3 hours apart. We have both gone through many changes during that time...both of us have lost our mother who lived with (or near) us, both have become grandmothers, she has lost her husband...we could have been there for each other. I know we cannot get back the years that we have missed, the memories we could have made...all of that is lost forever. I can only do my best to not loose track of her again and pray that we will have time now, and in the future, to re-kindle our friendship and treasure the time we have left to once again enjoy each other's companionship. In reconnecting with her I have also reconnected with her sister's...already talked to one of them. So as we start this New Year I will look back and remember...AND look forward to new friendships yet to be made and a fresh start towards new memories made with old friends once lost, now found, but never forgotten.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Memories

Some of my favorite memories of New Year's past are the ones I spent with my friend Denise (the friend I have been searching for) and her family. Mom and I would make the 60 mile trip to their home a few days prior to January 1st because we wanted to be there to help in the preparations for the big day. The tradition, as I remember it, was started in her mom's family many years befor. After my dad's passing in 1966 my mom and I began spending our New Years holidays with Denise's family, became involved in their tradition and helped to carry it on year after year . For 2 or 3 days prior to New Years day we (all of us gals) would take over the kitchen and dinning area to make homemade Tamales...hundereds of them!

Everything was made from scratch using an old family recipe. The dining room table would be covered with corn husks waiting to be filled. The air filled with the delicious aroma of spices used in the preperation. Batch after batch of the meat stuffing was lovingly prepared, spooned onto the husks, rolled, tied, boiled, cooled and bagged...some to be placed in the freezer, others refrigerated. Finally on New Years Eve everyone (and there was almost always a crowd there) would get their first taste of that year's batch along with other delicious Mexican dishes...all homemade. On New Years Day amidst parades and football bowl games on TV, we ate Tamales...for breakfast, lunch and dinner...and entertained a seemingly endless parade of visitors...all of which left with at least one package of frozen Tamales for future consumption.

Every year at New Years now, as my family eats the traditionally southern Blackeyed Peas and Collard Greens, I find myself longing for a Tamale or 2. Wishing that when I left those friends behind to follow my husband across the country I would have at least brought with me the recipe for Miss Clara's Tamales.

This year that recipe may be in reach.

Monday, December 29, 2008

To Friendships...Old & New

I did not grow up here in these 'Hills of Habersham' although I have called them home for 20 years, and this is the place I have felt most 'at home' in my know the saying, "Home is where the heart is". I grew up in a small, close-knit community in the high desert of California. I was born there and lived there until I married in my mid 20's. It is where childhood and teenage friendships were formed, and where I left them when I moved across the country to start my home and family in my husbands birthplace...Georgia.

At first we friends kept in touch by mail and phone, then gradually the connections faded and all contact was lost. I made new friends in the towns we lived in here in the south and left some of them behind also as the years rolled by. Occasionally I think of those newer friends and wonder where they are, but none so much as the old friends I left behind in the California desert...they were my childhood friends and the bonds we formed were strong. I learned to be who I am with them. Their parents influenced my life almost as much as my own did...with traditions and values and moral judgement. They helped teach me to share, to drive, to cook, to read, to write. They were my teachers and classmates in the school of life.

There was one family in particular that played a huge part in my life. We met at our church when I was about 6 years old. This family had just been through a devastating house fire in which the father was badly burned rescuing the youngest of his 3 daughters. Our church family welcomed them with open arms and hearts and my family became close friends with them almost immediately. The oldest of the girls was my age and we became friends, but the middle sister became one of my closest childhood friends. In those days it was customary in my family (and most of my friends families) to attend both morning and evening Sunday services at church, and many a child's Sunday afternoons were spent with it was not unusual to find me at her house, or her at mine on any given Sunday afternoon. Even when her family moved to a town about 60 miles away we kept our friendship strong spending entire weeks together at each other's homes during the summer and traveling back and forth on many weekends. I was in her wedding...her daughter was the flower girl in mine. We loved each other like sisters. Our families forever intertwined. And then about 26 years ago we lost touch...

To be continued.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Looking Forward...Remembering Backward

"What a long strange trip it's been"...words from the Grateful Dead song 'Truckin' really describe this past year in my life. There have been many twists and turns...some good, some not so good...all moving me forward in this journey we call 'life'.
For me 2008 began with a tragedy that rocked my world and left me stunned and confused. Although it was not a 'personal' tragedy in the sense that it did not happen to me or anyone I knew personally, it touched me deeply and served to change my perspective greatly. In the end the year, as well as the tragedy, has left me with some great new friends and a heightened appreciation for all of the people in my life...friends and family both past and present. I have learned this year not to take for granted anything or anyone...every moment is precious...there are none to waste. As the New Year approaches I am looking forward to the freshness and hope it brings with it...and at the same time I am remembering back to more innocent times.

I have a new first...and I wish that he could experience the world as I once knew it...simple, safe, uncluttered. I wish that I could take him back to the days when mommy's didn't work outside the home, when families sat down at the dinner table together, went to church on Sunday, had time to go on picnics and camp-outs together, when children could play outside after dark and trick-or-treat in neighborhoods instead of shopping malls. I am lucky in one sense because my son, his father, shares my love of the outdoors and the simpler things in life so I know that he will teach him to appreciate the earth beneath his feet and world around is just that in our world today no one is safe...and that scares me. I will do my best to give him a safe haven. And I will make sure he knows that he is precious and loved...every moment of every day for as long as I live.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Welcome and Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and welcome to the first post to my blog. Having been inspired by my friend Kit at Dog Daze Blog I have decided to embark on this new adventure. I don't know if I will post here everyday...I can only say I will do my best and hopefully get better at it as time goes by. One thing I do hope to do is to find many new friends along the way...So here goes.

I will start with a favorite quote of mine...not sure who said it but it has been on all of my business cards and forms for about 12 years now...

"There is a destiny that makes us brothers
No one walks this world alone
All that we send we send into the lives of others
Comes back into our own."