To All My Friends

04:00 August 22, 2014
By: Debbie Lindsey

The most valuable treasure you can acquire is friendship. My mother and sister set the course for me with their examples of living life alongside their friends.

First there were the Jolly Girls, my mother’s group of best friends. They were the original Golden Girls but sporting cigarettes and sipping bourbon and coke to soften their strict Catholic roots. Their friendships began with high school days and carried them through marriages, pregnancies, the raising of kids, mid-age crisis, ailing husbands, bankruptcies, prosperities and just plain ole life. The Jolly Girls were there for each other. The core group, as I remember, were Marie, Lois and Lois (yes, two), and several others whose names fade in and out with time. And for me they were like a bunch of cool aunts. There were summer sleepovers at Marie’s house on the Bay. Her kids were like cousins to me.  Lois No. 1 gave me rich Christmas memories with her amazing holiday parties in her big old rambling house. It was filled with homemade divinity, fudge and her famous chicken salad sandwiches served on Sunbeam bread with the crust cut off (the bakery was across the street and her front porch always smelled of yeast and flour). Christmas memories were also made at Ann’s and her husband Barney’s apartment. Living in the 1950’s and 60’s suburbs I found something quite urbane and “different” about apartment life—reminded me of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo living in New York City.

Lois No. 2 (but never second place) was divorced and that was something back then. Of course Momma made certain everyone knew Lois had her marriage annulled and that therefore “in the eyes of the Church” she was not just some divorcee. Still, the whole sordid business gave Lois an air of mystery to me—plus she was a nurse (which meant she’d seen people naked).

Anyway, I learned early on that friendships were special and that somehow they made you special. And back then friendships helped to make a woman more independent, stronger. Friendships still do that by enhancing one’s world.

My sister, Susan, knew from early on the power of friendships. Her core group called themselves The Spiders. I have no idea why, seeing how my sister has a near phobic terror of spiders. Perhaps the name was meant to scare away annoying little sisters like me. I was rarely allowed in their presence back then; but I have seen these relationships ebb and flow through the years and their endurance speaks volumes about the strength of a friendship.

Carrying on with the Lindsey tradition I garnered my own group of friends, my posse. Our band of faithful comrades chose the name Slut Sisters. This was long before Sex in the City and the name has endured through marriages, mates, and menopause. Needless to say my Mom was never quite comfortable with our name. I am not so sure when or exactly why we chose that name other than that we delighted in the outrageousness of it back then. I of course was the only Sister who took the name seriously and went forth and…well… or so the rumor goes.

There is strength and camaraderie that comes with a band of friends just as there is a closeness and confidence that a singular friend can offer. Friends come in all shapes and size; guys and dolls, new and old. Some are like family with a shared history and the memories and moments that bind you to them. Others are more casual, what you might call “acquaintances” but they can make you laugh when you need to or surprise you with a kindness. And sometimes that best friend might be the big sister you once annoyed.

Some years ago a friend commented on my having so many friends and said he would not want so many, that it was just too much work. I thought he was being self-centered or just kind of lazy about relationships but perhaps he was right. Friends are precious and you must give back. Anything or anyone worthwhile requires a degree of work and effort. When someone gives you their heart you have a responsibility to honor that gift.
If I had to choose the one thing about myself that I am most proud of it would be my friends. Do I think I deserve them? No way. They give so much more and never cease to surprise me with their gifts of time, concern, and commitment. This past year was a tough one for me but through it all my friends had my back. It was quite humbling and made me keenly aware of my shortcomings as a friend…but I can pay it forward as the saying goes. I want and will try to emulate these friends who listened for a year to all my feelings and helped me heal. The power of a friend is never to be underestimated. They soften the hard times and heighten the good. Friends make it all worth the while. And I have the best of the best—thanks.

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