Funny the World...


May 6, 2000

We all have casual friends, those folks we meet on the street or in the supermarket or at the movies. We have seen each other for years, we probably went to the same meetings or worked in the same office. Maybe we’ve had lunch now and then. But they don’t really make an impact on our lives. It’s nice to have them there. We don’t miss them when they’re gone. Not really.

Then there are people who come crashing into our lives like a herd of elephants. We have intense relationships. Perhaps we share traumatic events--great tragedies or wonderful triumphs. We work together closely. We play together well. We revel in each other’s company and we cry bitter tears when the relationship changes, whether geographically or emotionally. They were people who mattered in our lives and we mourn their loss.

A third class of friends are those long term friends who just seem to have always been there. Maybe there was an intensity at one time, maybe at other times it was casual, maybe you go for long periods without seeing each other, but when you get back together again, it’s as if time and distance melted away. Was it really 5 years ago when we last saw each other? I could have sworn in was only yesterday. These are the "forever friends."

We are spending this weekend with 11 of our "forever friends." We all met in the 60s when we were attending UC Berkeley and all belonged to the Newman Club. Our friendship grew over Masses and dinners and camping trips and parties. When the mating-and-dating turned to courtship and marriage, we were all witnesses to each other’s weddings. We were bridesmaids, ushers, and other attendants.

Then we started birthin’ babies. Ironically, we all lived in fairly close proximity to each other and so we were helped each other through pregnancies, were godparents to each other’s kids, formed a babysitting co-op, all went through parent co-op nursery school together. Our kids (22 of them) grew up as part of this wonderful extended family. They saw each other often and played together like a large litter of puppies, the older ones watching out for the younger ones. Each year on New Year’s Day we would have a party and bring all the kids. There was always a pinata to break. Year after year, the kids lined up by age to break the pinata. We started calling ourselves the Pinata group.

In time we began to move on. Char and Mike moved all over the place--Alaska, Hawaii, Palo Alto. We moved to Davis. Rich and Pat to Sacramento. Jeri, Bill, Gene, Audrey and Concetta stayed put, but our gatherings now became fewer and farther apart, and were more formalized. The kids were in school and the moms all had jobs now. No more just dropping in for a coffee klatch. The kids got involved in activities and perhaps only saw the other kids once a year, if that.

Still, when something big happens, these are the people we all turn to. We’ve watched some of our children marry, and we’ve seen the start of the third generation. We’ve weathered sickness and divorce, and several deaths--of our parents, our siblings, our children. In fact the last funeral we all attended was one of the earlier entries of this journal. I watch us gather to support each other and I have the sense of a herd of elephants crowding close around protect the one in pain.

We haven’t partied a lot lately and we can’t remember the last time we partied without any of the kids or grandkids, so this is the weekend. We’re spending the weekend wine tasting in the Napa Valley. We’ve booked several motels, have reservations at several restaurants, and just plan to hang out and renew our friendship at a time when the only reason for coming together is because we are forever friends...and because no matter where we are, we will always be connected to each other.

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created 5/6/00 by Bev Sykes