When we are kids, we gravitate toward friends who are like minded,who want to play in the sandbox when we do, who want to have tea parties when we do, who want to play kick the can when we do. As a parent I see how my children validate themselves by the friends they choose.
By virtue of being a military family, we usually live around other military families and find some sort of common ground with our neighbors and become friends. In some very lucky cases, I’ve made friends for life.
I can name them, sometimes I know their parents. They are kindred spirits, sisters in some commonality. I recognize their voices when I get a call and they might say, “hi, it’s me.” These are women who have cheered me on, fed me when I was hungry, offered a shoulder to cry on, and been there through thick and thin. Many of us have crossed paths numerous times. The military really is a small world.
In 1994, I met a wonderful woman, B. We had children the same age, our husbands worked together, and we both loved to cook. Acutally, our husbands decided we should meet. It was a good call. I am so lucky that we again live in the same community. The wonder of it is that it is if we were never apart. B and I were pregnant with our second children together. Her son, JG and Will were born two weeks apart to the minute. We celebrated teething, crawling, walking and birthdays together. B was there for me when it seemed as if my life was falling apart. Arriving at my doorstep with kleenex and food because she knew I was crying and not eating. She is a sister to me in every except by blood.
Our children were fast friends. We referred to JG and Will as Frick and Frack. Many times we’d find them in all sorts of mischief. It was so hard to be mad at two little guys so gleeful and proud of their mess. Tears were abundant when they moved away.
When we moved to the Washington DC area in 2003, we moved into a community of people who were not in the military. Yes, many military families lived in the area, but we were spattered about, mingling with families who had lived in the same neighborhood for years. Some even lived in their parents’ old homes. I can very honestly, and lovingly say, there were some tough nuts to crack there. But I am glad I did.
One of the very first people I encountered in Virginia was a little boy, J, and his dad. I was in the takeout line at Chicken Out and saw this sprite of a boy with a shock of red hair, big blue eyes and an elfish look about him, dressed in a Cub Scout Tiger uniform. I went against all I knew he had learned and talked to him. I had a boy the same age and we were looking for a Tiger Den. His dad quickly whisked in to save his son from a stranger. I assured him I was legit, introduced myself and got the details on the Tiger meeting.
As time passed, we became friends with J and his family. J and my son Will became fast friends. J’s dad was the stay at home parent and his mom worked in DC in a pretty high powered job. We became friends and the true confessions started. Us stay at home types intimidated her. REALLY?! I was aghast. Not only was she her own person with a real job, she was also the mom who subscribed to Family Fun Magazine and actually DID the projects with her kid. When we moved away there were tears from ALL and promises of many visits. They loved knowing they had a good excuse to visit Europe!
J’s family stayed in close touch and visited us twice in the Netherlands, even leaving J with us for the summer last year. When we returned to DC each summer, we were welcome long-term guests at J’s house. We had a good thing going…I shopped and cooked in exchange for a place to lay our heads for the summer. I affectionately refer to J as my summer son.
Now that my family is back in DC, J and Will have picked up like they were never apart. And, lucky for us, JG and his family are in the same community too. What warms my heart is that J, JG, and Will have found friendship as a group. Some will say that a group of three does not work well, but they seem to make it work.
So, what is the purpose of this post? Not much, really, but to share this story of friendship. Lasting friendship. Friendship shared. My heart warms at how embraced we are.