A friend can tell you things you don’t want to tell yourself ~ Frances Ward Weller

Friendship isn’t one big thing. It’s a million little things ~ Anonymous.

Friendship is built on mutual respect and trust ~ Stieg Larsson

Strangers at first, we built a friendship word by word. Words we spoke and words we wrote. We learned about ourselves and each other over decades of sharing ideas, personal memories, and experiences. It did not happen immediately. It took time to build our relationship, a bond of trust. There were four of us, Sally, Linda, Jackie, and me, at the core of our writers’ group that lasted years. A few others joined for a brief time and left for a variety of reasons. The group has now run its course, but the friendship endures. Over the years we had many dinners, lunches, and breakfasts together. We shared millions of gut-busting laughs and quite a few tears. We had overnights and out-of-town trips together. We slept on the floor next to each other. We shared beds in unfamiliar cities. We explored cities, towns, and countries, attended workshops, and took classes together. The tapestry of respect and love is tightly woven thread by thread.

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about a memory I have of a dinner celebration the three of us, Sally, Linda, and I, had together. We went to a restaurant and in the parking lot we found a token of kindness hanging from a tree, Ben’s Bells. I wrote that I retrieved the token from the tree and had it hanging above my desk as a reminder of that time together. Sally later reminded me that it was she who retrieved the bell from the tree and had it in her studio at home. The next week she gave each of us, Linda and me, a ceramic token in remembrance of that date. The token that hangs above my desk is even more precious to me because Sally wanted us to keep that memory as she did.

I have a great memory for experiences, but I do not necessarily get all the details right. I remember the sensory aspects, the emotions, like pictures in my head that can be easily misplaced in time and space. My husband and children often correct me when I tell a story. Yes, the event or experience happened but it happened in a different place at a different time. I’ve gone to other relatives to corroborate some of my earliest memories. I’m so happy to have witnesses to my life, but it does not preclude my enjoying memories in my own way.

Sally, being the chronicler of our group – she has a scrapbook of all our escapades and calendars kept over time – is the go-to person whenever I want to authenticate a memory. I love that about her. I treasure her ability and willingness to keep things straight. She knows me and laughed when she read the post, then reminded me of the facts. Thank you, Sally, for being my tolerant friend.

Things That Matter

In the hustle bustle of our everyday life, we lose sight of things that matter, even if they are right in front of us.  I was attempting to clean up my office area in the library/cat grotto. It is one of those tasks that never really ends, just begins – again and again. I get it mostly done then find something I meant to read or something I want to ponder or write and there goes an hour or two. By the time I’ve come back to the task, I’ve lost momentum and the remaining mess is shuffled to a corner until tomorrow or mañana, whichever comes first.

Along the way, I rediscover treasures. They are treasures of the heart. Part of the beauty of having a special place of my own to write, read, and think is that I surround myself with what my husband calls stuff. Photos, cherished books, posters, artwork, and objets d’art that have meaning for me. If piled all together they wouldn’t have the market value of a head of lettuce.

On the wall above my desk is a homemade birthday card from my grandson when he was eight or nine. Homemade in every respect. He made the paper and then printed the greeting on it. It reads Happy Birthday Grandma. You have a heart of pure – there he glued some gold fragments in the middle of the paper. It is signed Love Henry. There is no currency that can equal the value of that piece of handmade paper.  

On the wall next to it is one of Ben’s Bells that I found one evening when I was out with friends. It is a pay-it-forward symbol of intentional kindness. The story behind it is of a two-year-old boy who died suddenly in 2002. His grieving mother and family began making ceramic wind chimes to heal their grief. They were joined by others who helped. Four hundred bells were made and distributed around Tucson in random places on the first anniversary of Ben’s death. The one I found was hanging on a tree branch in a restaurant parking lot – it says “Be Kind”. Thousands of people joined the effort to make and distribute the bells. The movement grew as a non-profit educational program of kindness in schools and businesses all over the world. Every school I’ve been to around Oro Valley has a kindness program with the Ben’s Bells logo at the center of it. The green Be Kind symbol is displayed on school walls as a reminder. Awards are given at the end of the year to students who have displayed kindness toward others.

Those are just a couple of items that make my fortune more valuable than gems, or gold, or silver.