Sometime in the 90’s I came across a book called Girls with Grandmother Faces, encouraging women to stay connected, curious, and active after being widowed, having the kids leave home, or transitioning from the busy career years. It was an interesting book, but it is the title I most remember because when my closest friends first entered my life, we all sort of still considered ourselves “girls.” We were young women with little children; most of us had college degrees, and were married to men with more entrepreneurial ideas than anyone could ever realize in a lifetime. We, too, had dreams—some of which we shared with those creative men and some we only discussed and shared with each other.
We met because we were all connected in one way or another with the music business. We all had to learn that “home” was portable, as we traveled a lot with babies and small children. Peggy taught me to check an extra suitcase so I could set up “home” wherever we landed—in hotel rooms, busses, backstage dressing rooms, or locker rooms of sports arenas. A soft throw, a candle, an electric hot-pot for coffee, tea or instant soup, a picture of grandparents or pets, a bouquet of Queen Anne’s Lace picked from behind the parking lot—these could turn a sterile (or not so sterile!) space into “home” in no time, because, as our family discovered, home is wherever we could all be together.
Joy confirmed and encouraged my passion for books—books for the children and for myself. Sue made us all laugh at ourselves and at life. Lois took us on adventures and was the only one we all considered “a lady.” She lived in California, so we all went to the desert to write our first book together because she offered us a place “away” to write. Lois’s boys and the Gaither kids were and are to this day good friends.
Over the years we shared laughter, pain, secrets, disappointments, betrayals, the death of spouses, and some great vacations with our families in tow. We prayed each other’s kids through gains and losses, tragedies and triumphs. We walked with Sue through breast cancer and the death of her precious redheaded and creative daughter to the same disease that Sue survived. We held on to each other when Peggy’s Bob, Lois’s Fred, and Joy’s Robert slipped from our grasp into eternity. We cried together when Peggy lost her handsome, outdoorsy son and when Sue’s beautiful Mindy was gone for a decade and we didn’t know if she would ever be found. She was! And we all treasure every precious minute with her now.
We’ve traveled together speaking for “Friends Through Thick ‘n Thin” week-ends and spent many an hour on each other’s porches talking about whichever one of us happened to not be present. All of our daughters at one time or another have said to us, “I hope I can find friends that are as fun and as interesting and loyal as your friends are!”
Gradually, we all got “grandmother faces”, but we were still the same “girls” we’d always been—only better. Better because we’ve known and loved each other through more than four decades and have been the Keepers of each other’s memories. We all knew how important this well-earned trust would become in the coming days, for we knew there was a good chance some of us would be losing some memory of our own.
Sweet Peggy is gone now. Joy has moved to the west coast to live near her daughter Shana and her precious only grandchild. Lois just went with us on the Alaskan Homecoming Cruise, and what a sweet time we had! Sue and I keep in touch through email, text, an occasional phone call and breakfast together whenever I happen to be in Nashville. Our friendship has seasoned like vintage wine, and we treasure our children together and the times we steal to giggle like the girls we still are at heart.
They say the things we learn to music are the most lasting, so when we all lose our memories and maybe even our lives, I am believing that we will always be able to meet each other in the music! God gave the song!