Valentine’s Day is a celebration marked by cupid for sweethearts and love. I should relate a heartwarming, romantic love story, but my thoughts are on another kind of love – friendship.
Friends come in all ages, sizes, shapes, colors, personalities and characteristics. Each friendship is a process of giving, talking, listening, laughing, crying — being there and doing whatever else it takes.
Friendship doesn’t come with a lifetime guarantee. Some are short, some longer and some for as long as life. One thing is for sure — each friendship is a special, enriching learning experience.
Throughout the phases of one’s life, friends seem to fit the period. There were friends with whom you walked to and from school, played nip or kick the can in the street, jumped rope or walked to church. We all fit the same pattern since we lived in the neighborhood and life was on the same level.
Chet, my husband, produced the idea of writing about friendship. A few weeks ago, he was being productive and decided to fix the handle on a large basket that holds tons of photos. Naturally, I walked in when everything was scattered on the floor. It was best to leave him to the chore at hand so I walked away. Returning some 20 minutes later, I saw him still maneuvering the handle. At that point, it was best to give up on the project and put the photos back in the basket.
Again, I left him as he continued to stack the photos. Big mistake! He must have thought he was building a bonfire. Naturally, the photos had to be rearranged. Once again, they were scattered on the floor. As I separated and categorized, my attention was on the faces and the activities in the photos. I was on a sentimental journey.
In my hand was a pretty floral photo album of the “Girls in the Club,” organized in 1963. For the past 53 years, these girls and I have stayed connected and have woven a tapestry of life entwined with colors of joy, laughter, fun, giggles, boasting of our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, 25th and 50th wedding anniversary parties and the remarriage of a member at age 59. The dark threads are of death, sadness, pain, sorrow and tears; we are united in a sisterhood of love.
The “Girls in the Club” meet once a month for lunch, cards and coffee, but mainly to stay connected. I’m proud to call these women my friends: Evelyn Borzell Levandowski, Ruth Petritis Colorusso, Celestine Ercaloni Bonfanti, Dorothy Gattuso Manganaro, and Ann Marie Paragus Conroy.
Friends enter your life, perhaps as designated by God. You meet someone and instantly you want to be friends. I had that experience a few times in life, but I was never more sure than when I met Palma Lenza at a Tupperware party in Yatesville. She was the sister of a classmate, had a daughter, Judy, the same age of my daughter, Marilyn, and lived in the neighborhood. Our friendship spans 50 years of being soul sisters, understanding and caring for each other. Although miles separate us now and we are unable to see each other often, we are connected in heart, spirit and telephone.
Everyone deserves a daredevil friend. Mine is Ann Marie Conroy. Through our younger years, she was the ringleader and I followed in her exploits. She loved fun and practical jokes and still does. She’s a dependable friend with a big, caring heart who rings my phone every day to say, “Hello, how are you?”
Piles of photos of my Red Hat sisters take up a big portion of the basket. What fun and memories! We began our chapter in 2002, have bonded and look forward to our monthly gatherings wearing our red hats and purple clothing that don’t match. I salute my Red Hat sisters: Barbara Insalaco, Queen Hat; Ann Alaimo, Carolee Aycock, Beverly Bryden, Eileen Burns, Katie Casey, Dolores D’Elia, Mary Doran, Edythe Kepics, Antoinette Luce, Jasmine Mikita, Anne Monahan, Ann Rose, Columbia Stelma, Kay Thornton, Germaine Vullo, SaraWalker, amd Darlene Wheeler.
On the journey of life, many people have touched me and I am most grateful for the opportunity to share and remember the memories made with friends from childhood, high school, co-workers, neighbors, church family, club members and acquaintances. You have all enriched my life.
At a young age in life, Mama taught my brothers and me the value of true friendship. Her counsel was to make new friends but never forget the old. She taught by example. Loyalty, honesty, sincerity, caring are what she had in a lifelong friendship with Bessie Marcino. We honor Mama in our friendships.
I would be remiss if I did not tell you of my very best friend of 25 years. He is charming, makes me laugh, listens to me, dries my tears, reassures me, holds my hand and whispers in my ear, “I love you.”
Love you, dear friend and husband Chet. Happy Valentine’s Day. Sweethearts and friends, I hope your day is filled with sunshine, flowers, candy and, especially, love.