Doris* and my mother have been best friends for over 40 years. Both teachers with their masters’ degrees, the two women from neighboring cities met at an educational conference. They were as different as could be. One was married, one was divorced. One owned a house, the other lived in an apartment. One had a large, loving, supportive family,; the other had few support systems. One was black and one was white. But they were best friends for years and years. And when they grew too old to live independently, they moved away from each other to live near their daughters.
Doris raised 5 children, all of whom went to college, some becoming physicians. She travelled every time there was a family member’s birthday, graduation or wedding anniversary. She loved to make jewelry out of macrame and shells. And she loved educating children.
Mom had 4 children, 3 of them lived with her ex-husband. Two went to college, two worked in factories.
She travelled to Florida one week a year, or drove 5 hours to visit her mother a few times a year. She loved to collect seashells, to read, and she loved to educate children.
One summer, Doris and my mother vacationed together to Sanibel Island, FL, a place with pristine beaches, quaint shops and restaurants. (It is a marvelous place, and both still talk about meeting there again even now) As the story goes, they were together one morning, sunning and walking the beach collecting seashells. Someone came up to my mother and asked her “Is Doris your maid?” My mother, furious with the presumption, and with a serious, deadpan face did not respond in anger, but merely said, “Oh no, She’s not my maid, I’m her maid!”
Doris and my mother are now both in their 90’s. They both retired from teaching years ago. Both have suffered great losses. Both are very frail and require the help of their families to meet their needs. But they remain true friends. Friends that always acknowledged their differences, but saw past them, and enjoyed the bonds that matter: Shared Values, Mutual Respect, 401Love.