This week I turned 50!!! Wow.
It was a lovely day, with a little bit of clouds, and cool and then plenty of warmth and blue sky... pretty much like my life... a bit of trouble now and then, but nothing too severe or life shattering, and mostly pretty terrific. It was also a day of work, enjoyment, time at home with my husband and best friend,(who took me on a bike ride, fixed me up a cute, and super fun hand-me-down e-bike, and also cooked Mongolian for me in our back yard!) calls, texts and phone messages and songs from far away loved ones who remember me even if they can't be with me. It too was like my life, filled to overflowing with things that matter most but without the exotic. No cruises, foreign travels, or expensive jewelry. Happily, I'm good with that. I'll keep what I have and everything else will be icing.
Many are widowed, most retired, some have health challenges that provide excuse for minimal activity, yet, most are so consistent in doing this good thing for their mental and physical health and much more as well. They are so welcoming, inclusive, humorous and fun! I loved just eavesdropping in on their conversations for many months at first. Their playful banter and jokes among each other drew me in. I enjoyed the witty, teasing these ladies gave to one of their friends, Leah (in her 70s) as she began dating and becoming more serious with a man she had met through another friend. They all told her they would come and be her "brides maids"... or "brides -widow's" at her wedding, they quipped. They also added that likely they'd all have to come dressed in swim suits or no-one would recognize each other in real clothes out side of swim class! When Leah did in fact become engaged, they held a large and really fun bridal shower for her. Truly, their cheer and mutual support and other examples of community service, involvement and activity whether in golfing, caring for aging parents, library volunteering, or reading with underprivileged elementary school children was and has been a source of inspiration to me. Their inclusion of me as well has been an answer my prayers. They have been my "mothers", sisters, and friends. Today they met me for lunch at a local diner to celebrate my birthday and presented me with cards, and small gifts. But I wished they could know that it is their friendship and influence that is the dearest gift to me.
Leah and I have become close friends. We share the same church and our paths have crossed outside of class over the years. How I love her. Tomorrow she will also become my piano teacher! I am thrilled and excited and hope she will become proud of me! (That is the best motivator for practice, I believe.) Today at Leah's suggestion, they each shared what they were doing 50 years ago. One was 15, and being a challenging teenager... I'm not surprised. She's still a bit of a spunky spitfire! All the others were between early 20's and mid 30's, beginning life, starting college, or as young mothers, young wives. Several were brand new to the Tri-cities; one was new to the country itself having just moved to Pittsburg US from Germany after the war. She intended to stay in the US only one year, 7 years later she was still here, met her husband and then stayed for good. One was living in the Middle East running a bowling alley of all things! Their stories were fascinating and inspiring. Even my own mother is younger than most of them, yet I feel no unpleasant "generation gap".
I wish these dear gals could know what their friendship has meant to me, the hole it has filled as my own mother and sisters live far away busy lives, and our children left home and moved away. They are reminders to me that we really all are "family", brothers and sisters of Heavenly Parents and He wants us to include and care about one another, and to seek to meet each others needs. These women (and a few brave men in the class too!) care for one another by driving to doctors appointments, helping move and clean during divorces, or other challenging times, even aiding during and after surgeries and recoveries. What a support system they are... from a gym class!
Thank you for accepting even embracing me in the arms of your friendship ladies! How I hope I may do the same for some other "young" gals through the coming years, and that there will be others like you to do similarly for my son, daughters and daughter-in-law wherever they may be.
Much love, and Happy 50 to Me!