Friends and friendship. Where to begin? Just this morning whilst browsing Facebook, my friend Carol, of 54 years posted a video that featured the London I knew way back when I was only 17, in 1966. Carol and I met at school and even though at times we lost touch, we always managed to find each other again. Especially when I immigrated to Australia with my late husband at the age of 21, after a few years of letter writing, we lost touch, I can’t remember if I moved or Carol moved, but no matter, we always found each other.
We could finish each others sentences whilst at school and after the longest time we had lost touch and my husband Mike and I went back on our last visit to England in 1998 we arranged to meet at her local train station, and we spotted each other from the opposite sides of the entrance, quite a distance really. We both threw our arms up into the air and started running toward each other, and as Mike said, it was just like in the movies with the lovers, only we weren’t lovers just great friends. I have never forgotten that meeting and we found out that we STILL finished each others sentences. Of course, we’ve got much more in common than that; we seem to have a bond that can’t be broken.
The same could be said of another friend, Pam who I met at age 16 when the pair of us started work on the same day together at Westminster Bank, in Threadneedle Street (I love that name) in London. We became very good friends again and up until her death two years ago we were in touch with each other and the last time she came here to Australia, she knew she was dying and wanted her ashes to be scattered on our property. Pam is pictured on the right of the photo with me at age about 18 years old.
Pam suffered from four bouts of ovarian cancer and went through so much suffering trying out experimental treatments to give herself a chance to stay on this planet. She was one of the most courageous people I know. It broke my heart when she left, and I’m glad I am typing this on the computer and not writing on paper or the paper would be suffering from a bad case of dampness!
Even when she was so very sick, she would Skype me and talk until she just had to rest. I think of her often especially when I see the little trinkets she bought me that I have in my house and the photo I have of the two of us when we were aged about 18 that is sitting in my office.
Another case of a friendship conducted from halfway around the world, it can and does work when the connection is so very strong.
I have lost two friends this year, well lost is not quite what happened, they both died. It amuses me in a funny kind of way that we say that when someone dies, we’ve “lost” them. My quirky sense of humour would wonder where have I lost them and will I find them soon?
Earlier this year my friend of over 20 years Evol died. She just didn’t wake up one morning. She had just moved house and was looking forward to starting a new chapter in her life with her husband. For someone so vibrant and alive I half expected her to live forever. Evol loved coming out to my house on my property as she loved the gardens and found them so peaceful and healing. She would get out of her car stand and drink in the scenery and let out a big sigh and say “It’s SO good to be here”.
Evol was born in Kyogle, the little country town where I live, but she went out into the world and lived her life in various places and then came back just two or three years before her death to live and be retired here. I started up monthly morning teas at my house to welcome her back into the community and to introduce her to new people. I set a cup and saucer aside to honour and remember Evol at the first one without her and her picture of her at 21 years old was on show.
The last photo taken of Evol. Always a smile on her face, she was in the business of helping and caring for others.
Margaret was our next door neighbour for many, many years, I think about 20. But she was also our friend and her religion was “LOVE” as she said. I can almost hear her now, knocking on our back door and opening it and announcing her presence with the words “It’s only me Jan!” Then she would come in and sit down in her customary chair and we would chat. Usually about putting the world to rights and so. She was a very gentle spirit, and very, very funny.
Margaret would also come to my morning teas if it wasn’t held on Wednesdays as that was her golf day. She was an avid golfer and a top senior in New South Wales. Many days we could hear her smacking golf balls up to the front gate and then back again to practice her accuracy. She lived on five acres so had plenty of room to do that.
Margaret often had my morning tea guests in stitches with her funny yarns. Of course she knew many of the people I invited as she’s a local to Kyogle having brought up her three daughters here. She is pictured here with her lovely granddaughter Matalin who lives in Perth. Matalin adored her Nan and they had a special bond together. Margaret died just a month ago and yesterday was my morning tea and a place was set for my friend. I know she will be missed because I miss her so much. I look up or over the fence expecting to see her and to wave to her and she’s not there.
I feel kind of empty and also sad with the departure of my friends, but I do know that I will treasure the friendships that I had with these women.
Friends come into your life at all times don’t they? They bring different qualities with them, of that I’m sure as all these friends are so different. I love(d) them all.
I know I will never be without friends because I have sisters I consider my friends as do they. I’ll leave you with a photo of myself and my three sisters, when Christine, the eldest who lives in England was visiting. I’m blessed to have my other sisters, Linda and Karen living close by. Plus another photo of the three of us Aussies.