A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of spending time with some of my closest friends from high school. The “Babes of ’58” as we call ourselves (because we were all born that year), decided to reunite for the first time in 2008 at a resort in Osooyoos, B.C. It marked the first time we had all been together since high school. Tracy came from California, Tanya, Paddy and Jean drove from Victoria and I trekked west from Alberta. We vowed after that momentous trip to meet up every five years to celebrate our birthdays and to celebrate our friendship.
I have known Paddy and Tracy since grade five and I hadn’t done the math before but that means we’ve been friends for forty-five years! Forty-five years!! My first memory of Paddy is drawing on erasers, putting tacks (for wheels) on them and pretending they were little cars for our little troll dolls we brought to school to play with at recess time. Jump to grade twelve when I was barely passing algebra and Paddy patiently walking me through algorithms and equations so I could pass the course and graduate. In high school Paddy was, in her words, “painfully shy” but around her friends she sparkled, and her laugh and her quirky sense of humour was brilliantly refreshing. Today, married nearly thirty-four years with two grown children, Paddy continues to sparkle!
Tracy was the “welcoming committee” when I came to a new school in 1968, in grade five. As the “new kid”, I didn’t fit it ANYWHERE with the other kids who had all gone to kindergarten together, and to say I felt ostracized and alone those first few weeks was a drastic understatement until I met Tracy. Outgoing and personable, Tracy decided to befriend me and helped me adjust to the new environment. Jump ahead to high school, I played soccer, and floor hockey with Tracy. We laugh about it now but I still bear the scars on my ankle when she and I faced off to start a game, and she inadvertently tapped her wooden hockey stick across my ankle! Today, living in California, she is happily married and has two grown children.
I met Tanya in grade nine and oftentimes in high school I wondered why such a talented, athletic girl would “hang out” with me, an awkward, non-athletic girl. Tanya convinced me to join the Senior Girl’s soccer team even though I was a less than stellar player. She was a prankster and to this day I still remember the look on our Vice Principal’s face when he found dissected perch in the school’s drinking fountains thanks to Tanya. Today, she and her husband and their two grown sons run a large dairy farm near Duncan on Vancouver Island.
Jean and I became close friends in grade nine. It is Jean I thank for taking me to church for the first time and demonstrating what it means to walk with the Lord. I have blogged about THE CARD that we have exchanged for so many, many years. Jean and I were lab partners in high school and due to a slight miscalculation (probably my fault) of flammable liquids overflowing onto our bunsen burner during a science experiment, Jean has the distinction of setting the school on fire. Of course, it wasn’t the entire school, but with all the commotion and subsequent panic that ensued with fire alarms being pulled and panicked high schoolers running for the doors, well, it became a legendary event for our graduating class to recall years later. Today, Jean has three grown children and has been happily married for twenty-three years.
Although Tracy could not join us this year, Paddy, Jean, Tanya and I met in Fairmont and spent a weekend reminiscing about our high school days, catching up on our present lives and planning ahead to our next Babes Trip. Time ticks by too quickly sometimes, but for a few days we were sixteen again, if not in body, certainly in mind. I have been more than blessed by their friendships these many, many years. Distance has not been an obstacle for us to remain close. We have journeyed life’s road together, through health events, births and deaths, joys and sorrows. As the clock steadily ticks on, some of the laugh lines so prevalent on my face can be attributed to our times together. Our friendship is not defined by age. We are defined by ageless friendship.