How many people can say they still have the first friend they ever made? Especially someone in his late 50s? And someone who has also lived in four different towns in three different states? I must say I hadn’t had this thought before. At least not until my long time friend from one of those towns from many years ago told me that I was in fact, her first friend. And then it hit me. She was my first friend as well.
So how did we meet? Well sadly that memory is locked away somewhere in the recesses of my mind that I haven’t been able to tap into. But based on this photo from my fourth birthday, it happened sometime soon after a cold February move from my birthplace in northwestern Louisiana to a town we lived in for only six years. Thanks to these old photos, I can at least try to reconnect with those old memories.
On a recent SIBSAB with my three siblings, we visited the home we had lived in for those six short years. At the time of this visit, I remember thinking how small the house looked. No doubt when I was just four, it seemed much larger.
With the help of these old photos, I can picture in my mind’s eye R being at our house. But I don’t seem to have any photos of me being at her parents’ house. The images I can recall from her house are of a huge pecan tree standing majestically in her front yard next to a winding gravel drive way and inside, a den with dark wood paneling.
When I was 10 years old, we moved to another state and town and I lost contact with my friend. But thankfully the friendship wasn’t lost; it just went into hibernation
It was actually two sad occasions that renewed our friendship. When my mom died in 1999, R came to the funeral. My parents had chosen to be buried in a little country cemetery next to the last church my dad served in a small town about 30 miles from where R lived. I immediately recognized her the moment she walked in and made her way to her seat in that little country church. It was great to get to see my friend again, even on such a sad occasion.
After the burial, we exchanged e-mail addresses and began to correspond with each other. Those early e-mail messages allowed each of us to catch up on what we had been doing in the past 30 years. But our frequency of correspondence really didn’t become regular until another sad event—the death of my dad just three years later.
Again we gathered in the same little church for the service and the graveside for the internment. After this event, we began to correspond more frequently. We moved from recalling past events of our lives apart to current events going on in our lives and the lives of our children. It was through this e-mail correspondence that I learned from R how special my parents had been to her. And I learned that my dad had even kept up e-mail correspondence with R as well.
The year we had our SIBSAB in northwestern Louisiana, my brother and I had an opportunity to have dinner with R and her husband on our way to meeting our sisters. It was a great visit and it seemed in spite of the years and miles that had separated us, there was no awkwardness; we were just old friends getting together for a long overdue visit.
Having moved so many times early in my life, I’ve lost contact with a lot of friends over the years. But it is a special treat to still be connected to the first friend I ever made almost 55 years ago.
Before I created my blog, I started a list of all the topics I would want to write about on my blog. R was naturally on that list. I just hadn’t figured out how to tell the story until recently. But thanks to R’s comments several weeks ago about me being her first friend, I realized she had given me the perfect perspective from which to write.
So today I pay tribute to my first friend, a special friend, may we have many more years of correspondence and hopefully visits as well!