Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Awesome Power of Friendship
I was hanging out my upstairs bedroom window this morning listening to the beat of the cool rain on the tin roof of the porch when I heard a vehicle coming up the road. Rounding the corner down below was an UPS truck. Since I rarely get packages, I expected that its destination was one of the three houses beyond me, so I felt the thrill of Christmas morning when the driver pulled up to my home.
The package was the ‘proof’ copy of the paperback version of Grumble Bluff. As I am anxious for this less-expensive book to become available to the public, I immediately sat down to proofread it. There are editors who’ve already checked the copy several times, both before and after GB hit the printing press, but the final word falls to me. That is, perhaps, not the wisest course, since I have the 208 page story memorized. It’s harder for me to spot mistakes than it would be for a reader who's never laid eyes on my tale. But there you have it…the buck stops here.
Three hours later, I had once again read in its entirety this tale of friendship–this story of real life in the western mountains of Maine. I had completed this same task just weeks before when changes had been made to the back cover, and new reviews were added to the inside. Even so--even though this is my own novel, my own made up story--even so...I was touched by the tale. I giggled as I read it, and I cried.
I know, I know…I’m a bit peculiar.
The themes in Grumble Bluff caused me to reflect on my own authentic, flesh and blood friends. I have been very lucky to have many friends in my lifetime. And I have been blessed to have several whom I consider to be exceptional, trustworthy and faithful people…best friends. The two-word phrase doesn’t do these wonderful men and women justice. They have been life-savers. They have brought me immense pleasure, and shared sanity-sustaining laughter with me. They’ve wiped my tears, and allowed me the honor of drying theirs. They’ve lent me their strength, both physical and emotional, and when the time came and the tables were turned, they’ve placed their burdens upon my shoulders.
Best friends. Two short words to describe one of the most powerful forces in the world.
In this author’s humble opinion, of course.
Grumble Bluff is dedicated to my friend Patty. Many people who’ve read GB have asked if it is a true story. It is not. Katherine Anne Kirby and Greta Rommel are make-believe girls…figments of my imagination. However, their fictional relationship was inspired by my childhood friendship with this wonderful woman, which began in 1972 when we were in fourth grade. Even at nine years old, Patty knew how to be a true friend. That giving, dependable and loyal quality is something that she's never outgrown, a constant that’s never changed. How fortunate I’ve been!
Terri is another friend who has been beside me for years and years. And years, but I won’t say how many, because she’s still telling people she’s thirty-seven. (Her son will be twenty-nine next month, but, of course, you didn’t hear it from me!) Terri helped me through one of the most difficult periods of my life. And then, a few short years later, I returned the compliment. Things like that bond a person for life…and I’m privileged to be tied to such a woman.
Kay and Linda are two women who have encouraged and supported me through the years; women who have always acted like I was a much greater and more capable woman than I really am. Their overwhelming faith in and admiration of me has almost, at times, made me believe that I really am something special. Truth be known, they are the ones who are extraordinary. Wow. To know such great women is a rare honor.
Other women have also made positive, lasting impressions on my life. Pam. Jeanette. Dottie. Real women with diverse backgrounds, faiths, and political ideologies. Each with something valuable to contribute. Each woman kind and loving and opinionated and strong. Perfect.
And then, there are the guys. Every woman should have at least one best friend who is a man. The perspective they bring to a relationship is priceless. Their outlook on life is, at times, completely contrary to that of a female. But–believe it or not–I’ve actually discovered that their counsel can be wise, their viewpoint can be discerning, and their ‘my way or the highway’ outlook can be liberating.
Plus, they are a barrel of laughs!
Bentley, Richard, Clair and Dave. All men who have taught me, helped me...made me feel feminine, but tough. Wow, fellas! Mmm, mmm, mmm!
Jack is someone special. A man of my age. A foreigner, but with many similar life experiences. He’s also a writer, like I am. Jack is man of gentleness, but with a fiery temper. (A gal only needs to experience it once…maybe twice…before she’s figured out what buttons can be pushed, and what ones deliver a two-hundred-and-twenty volt shock. Heh. When I get the feeling back in my left arm, I just might toggle him again…a girl only lives once, right?) My friend Jack is one of those rare guys with true integrity. He is a man who could be my brother, and I love him as if he was.
And Grahame. What did I ever do before Grahame found me and wiggled his way into my heart? He’s older (but not by much!! It’s hardly worth mentioning, in fact!), and he’s wiser. He’s silly, but sane. Grahame flatters me when I need bolstering, but he’s no push-over. If he doesn’t agree with me, I know it. Without a doubt, I know it! But even when we differ, we recognize in each other a desire for peace. A tolerance for diverse people. And we agree that it is okay to disagree. In truth, he has brought this peace-maker a deep and abiding peace of her own.
Grumble Bluff is a celebration of friendship. The story epitomizes the awesome power that is at hand when two open hearts come together without malice or ulterior motive. Katherine Anne and Greta are girls who each needed a friend, but who each gave more of themselves than what they required. And that’s what real friendship is. Giving, and not taking.
A true friend knows they’ll get it back in spades. And then some.
The photo above is of my friend Patty, me, and my husband, Mr. Grumble. We have no idea who took the picture, but we're pretty sure the photographer was drunk, thereby causing rosy cheeks and idiotic expressions to appear when the film was developed.