Those We Know

My friends’ parents are part of the soundtrack of my childhood.  In junior high and especially high school, I spent many more nights than I can count at the homes of Sarah and Mary Linda.  I lived 25 miles away from where I went to school, so overnight stays after football games or play practice or before big trips were often necessary. Plus there was way more to do in Monroe.

Sarah’s dad passed away last night after a 30+ year battle with cancer in various shapes and forms.  Her parents were and are every inch of what you would call “A Class Act.”    I always think of Mignon as elegant and put together–her Louisiana drawl, her laugh–and Mike, her dad, was the kind of man who remembered your name, used your name, and made you feel like you were JUST the person he was wanting to see at that exact moment, and that your specific presence in his day had made it worth living.  They  just recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.

Now, obviously, being close friends with their daughter gave me the inside scoop on how they and their family functioned.  I learned many lessons from the Rileys, and although they may not seem super important they are part of my life, and it makes me smile to remember them.  Some, but not all, are:

  1. Fresca was a drink that was always cold in their fridge.
  2. The Rileys had a picture collage wall as early as 1983 and LONG before Pinterest.
  3. Music playing in a home is a very good thing.
  4. The toenails of a Shih Tzu on a tile floor is a happy, peppy sound that you do not forget.
  5. You can be A Class Act and still drive a Harley (or ride the back of one if you are Mignon.)
  6. The importance of timing and physics when learning how to spit gum out of the sun roof of a moving car.
  7. Hondas are good vehicles.
  8. You do not call someone’s home after 9:00 pm. (This is a hard-learned lesson to which I still ascribe, and when I have to break it, I apologize profusely.)
  9. The meanings and appropriate usage of the the phrases “Katy, bar the door” and “Hie your skirts about you and run.”
  10. Having one’s blood pressure and voice volume escalate due to bad drivers can be an art form.
  11. Your own voice volume should GREATLY decrease after 10:00 pm (this was a challenge for me) unless you are at the other VERY FAR end of the house in the play room.
  12. Don’t sit OR lean on the footboard of the bed.
  13. If you are the one driving, you have ONE job.  FLY the PLANE!
  14. Someone’s own name is the sweetest sound they can hear.
  15. Your friend’s parents love you.  A lot. Even when you are loud after 10:00 pm and call after 9:00 and drink their last, cold Fresca and lean on the footboard of the bed.

In the fall of 2009, there was a chorus reunion to honor one of the teachers we had in high school.  The morning of the event, I went to the school to help decorate with Sarah and others, then we spent the afternoon together and ended up at her parent’s home to get ready for the evening.  This was the same home in which I had spent so much time as a teenager–same bathroom with two sinks–same tile floor (minus the Shih Tzu)–and as we bustled about and got ready and talked across the hallway and laughed, Mike showed up at the bathroom door (the same one where he had once delivered a stern lecture to us both regarding the fact that Sarah could have driven to Bastrop SEVERAL TIMES to talk to me IN PERSON for the price of the ONE phone bill he had just retrieved from the mail box and was currently holding in his hand and waving for effect) with a huge grin on his face.  “Man, it sure has done my heart good to hear you girls (we were 40  at the time) laughing and talking and getting ready in this house again. I’d forgotten how happy that makes me.”

It made me glad then, and now, I’m the parent who is happy to hear her daughter and her daughter’s friends back in my own home on their breaks from college.  And it made me understand that I was just as much a part of Mike Riley’s life as he was of mine.  He is home now–no longer sick–singing at the top of his lungs and greeting all of those who have gone before like they are JUST the person he was wanting to see on his first day in Heaven.

 

 

 

Friends

I am incredibly blessed to have many, many friends.  I have been granted these gifts by God, and I got to see one of them back in the fall AND again a few weeks ago.

Before Tony and I built our new home, we were attending church in Houston.  A couple of years after we arrived, they hired a children’s minister named Jennifer.  I had been helping out with VBS for a couple of years before Jennifer’s arrival, and I had kids who were still under the children’s ministry umbrella, so Jennifer and I became fast friends.

I can’t even remember how or why. . .we just did.  Really–I know how or why–it was God.  It’s ALWAYS God.

Eventually, we built our home and moved to a new town and a new church home, but Jennifer and I remained friends.  She STILL has “World’s Best Babysitter” status with my kiddos–the only one that comes close is their Aunt Christy–and she’s family.

The long story short is that through several of us walking through doors that God help open, I was able to introduce Jennifer to her husband.  They dated (mainly through text message) and were married a mere 9 months later.  During this time, Jennifer and I helped each other through many, MANY difficult life issues.  Tony and the kids were in Magnolia that year for school, but I was still in our old district.  It was a weight to bear to be away from my family, and it wore on me that year especially. I cannot count the number of Frito Pie burritos and large Sonic Diet Cokes she brought to me at school during my lunch time.  She seemed to have a 6th sense for when I needed her to show up. She was my personal grocery shopper on more than one occasion–just MADE me give her my list and went and bought them all, then brought them to me at the end of the school day.

She spent nights in our guest room when she and Greg finally started dating in earnest.  I’d keep a ready supply of bean salad, Tostitos, Oreos and peanut butter for her. We would talk on my way in to work or on my way home,  and I was with her on her wedding day–going to get her hair done, getting an emergency Diet Coke from Sonic, and being a general runner and taking pictures here and there.

Greg and Jennifer 082 cropped landscape sharp

One of the engagement photos I took of them at our house.

March of this year will make 7 years this sweet couple have been married.  In that 7 years, they have produced FOUR precious babies. . .sweet Jack, and triplets Lillian, Harvey, and Matilda.  I have not gotten to spend much time with her or her babies as they moved to Dallas shortly after they married, then recently moved to Georgia.  What with 6 babies between the two of us–and Jennifer with four ages 5 and under, we don’t get a lot of time to chat–or text–or even send telepathic messages.  But that has not lessened our bonds of friendship.

In September, Jennifer’s brother-in-law (who is our youth minister) was getting married in Dallas.  She had texted me the day before to see if I could help her corral the triplets during the wedding.  I was thrilled to do so and came armed with stickers. That was the first time we had been in touch in about a year.  No matter. . .friendship knows no expiration date.  Which was proven when we were 45 minutes away from arriving in Dallas.  I received a text.

“Are you close enough that you can stop by a Walmart and get some socks for the kids?”  Now–it may sound odd–but that text made my heart happy, happy, happy!  Seriously.  The time and the distance meant nothing at all, because who can you ask to get socks for your kids if you can’t ask your friend?

I had not seen Jennifer in probably three years at this point, but when we arrived at the church, I walked through the door, hugged her husband and the one triplet who was nearby, handed her the socks with no fanfare and said, “I’ll be back in 45 minutes to help with the kids.”

We DID get to talk a very, very little bit at the reception–but it was all okay–we had seen each other.

In late January, Greg’s grandmother passed away.  They all headed to our little town for the memorial service, and I was on hand to keep the kiddos in the nursery!  So fun!!!  On my way to the building, I texted Jennifer, “On my way. What Sonic drink would you like for me to smuggle into the nursery for you?”  Her reply, “Large Coke Zero.  You are my hero.”

In all of our bounty of time together over a few months, we had neglected to get a photograph of the two of us together.  In fact, this one below (from her wedding shower in February of 2010) was the most recent one I had of us.

Jen and Greg's Shower 106_025

My very good friend, Jennifer. She’s ten kinds of awesome.

So that Sunday morning after the memorial service but before church started (and I got to be in the nursery with the four kiddos again–such sweet, sweet babies–and they LOVE their Rice Chex and Cashews) I made a mad dash into the auditorium so that we could take this picture together.

Jennifer and Me.jpg

The lighting isn’t great. . .the weird ceiling we have in our church auditorium is on display. . .there are a few more wrinkles on both of our faces, and we still don’t get much time to talk, but oh how I treasure this friend of mine.  She is a blessing and a treasure and a gift–and I can’t thank God enough for her!