It’s Sunday as you’re reading this, likely. But it’s Thursday when I write it. Just for perspective. So yesterday for you is Saturday. But yesterday for me is Wednesday. Are you confused yet?
Anyway, Wednesday (yesterday) was a magic day. I hit the “pause” button on my life for an entire day. When you’re self employed (as I have been for almost three decades) you’re supposed to hit the pause button a lot. Most self employed people don’t even FIND the pause button, much less hit it!
However, I hit the pause button in honour of my friend, Mary Anne. We met one sunny fall day in the basement of St Mark’s Anglican Church in Orangeville, Ontario. She was wearing plaid coveralls. I was wearing green ones. We both had wispy hair that hung below our ears, held back with barrettes. We both had shy smiles. We were in nursery school. We were three years old.
We grew up in that idyllic post-war time when dads had come home from the war, and moms and dads were busy building lives and families. Mary Anne’s dad taught high school. My dad sold automotive parts. Mary Anne’s dad belonged to the Lions Club. My dad was a Rotarian. Our mothers worked at home.
Mary Anne and I lived on the same block of small, post war homes, but they were like mansions in those days… three bedroom bungalows with “recreation” rooms, an entirely new concept in the 50’s. We walked to Kindergarten together on the second day. Our Moms walked with us on the first day. Yes, we walked six blocks all on our own. It was the 50’s. It seemed safe. We didn¹t even think about safe, as a concept.
We were Brownies together. We both sang in the Junior Choir at the United Church. We both took piano lessons. We played duets. We were both Girl Guides. We both were Guide captains in our groups. We went out for Hallowe’en together. We started high school together. We got our first after-school jobs at our local hospital, she as a candy striper/nurse’s aid and me in the kitchens serving food. We both buried our dads when they were far too young to go.
She decided at age 12 to become a nurse. I decided at age 12 to become a journalist. We kept those promises.
And we grew up, got married, had babies, built lives and moved away. Mary Anne moved to north of Toronto, then to Ottawa, then to Calgary, and a few years ago she and her husband moved into a quite-old 22-foot RV and lived in it on site while they built their own house. I’m not kidding! Absolutely no building experience, but they hired out help for the footings and then took it from there. It was their first retirement project. They now overlook their little city, lights twinkling.
Funny, we both live in communities that are built around lakes. She does needlepoint. I knit.
Our kids are now grown. We now regularly go to our hairdressers to get our wispy hair streaked so the grey isn’t quite so noticeable. We’re both heavier than we were in high school. We¹ve both experienced great joy and sadness, life and death, achievement and defeat. Weve both cried over our kids, laughed over our kids and burst with pride over our kids. In the same day.
And w’¹re both still very good friends, though we now live five provinces apart.
When she called to say she was coming to spend a week with her mom, I got out my daytimer and stroked through May 11. All of it.
Why am I telling you this? And why does it matter?
Because I think often the fabric of our lives gets lost in the hustle and bustle of overactivity, overcommitment and overdoing.
We stopped. We took time to just “be.” We walked the trail to downtown, went for lunch, walked back. We made coffee. We picked up kid two from her summer job. We made dinner. We looked at photographs. We talked til way past midnight. We wished it was longer. We’ll always wish it was longer.
And as she pulled away this morning, on the road back to her mom, I pulled away to my busy-ness and we waved. We have well over half a century of knowing each other, caring about each other, celebrating our lives.
I feel blessed to have someone who knows me so well, and who cares despite all my faults. I feel blessed to be able to share this wonderful community with my friend. And I am grateful that I hit the pause button.
I think I’ll do it more often.
Thanks, Mary Anne.