November 21, 2009

I'm Thankful for a Special Friend

Today I spent most of the day with someone who has been a special person in my life for over 40 years. I call her Karpe, a nickname she was labeled with when we were in Girl Scouts together back in our high school days. I won't bore you with the story, but she has always been "Karpe" to me and my family. We're the only people in the world who call her that.

Forty years. It's hard to believe! It's hard to fathom what my life would have been like without her. I was 17, a senior in high school when we met; she was 15 and a sophomore. We were both going through difficult times in our lives. My father was recovering from his first bout of cancer; Hodgkins Disease, to be exact. Her father was an alcoholic and she was having a hard time dealing with it. We turned to each other for support and a lifelong friendship was born.

Since that time, we have been through thick and thin together...literally! Our lives have been filled with peaks and valleys, as everyone's are, and we were right there for each other whenever we were needed. We've celebrated more life events together than I can ever count and we've cried together more times than I would like to remember. We can be just as silly today in our "middle age" years as we were as teenagers, maybe even moreso! Or maybe it's just that we enjoy laughing together at ourselves or at other things.

I have received so much from her over the years and I've had the opportunity to give equally as much. I took her for chemotherapy treatments when she battled cancer, not once, but twice. She was there to help me pick up the pieces of a broken marriage. She's come over and helped me clean my house when I needed it and I helped take care of her when she was recovering from hip replacement surgery...twice.

When I told her I was going to do a 3-day breast cancer walk in her honor back in 2000, she immediately signed up to do it with me. What fun that was...especially on the very first day when we were the absolutely last two people in the group of 3,000 walkers, and the only thing behind us was the ambulance waiting to see if we needed a ride!

Our weekend shopping trips became infamous, although they started simply enough. I remember it was 1988 and she had finished her treatment for breast cancer, her first bout with the disease. It was also the year we were celebrating 20 years as friends and I suggested we do something special to honor both occasions. Our children (I had two sons by then and she had one) were still pretty young and, being boys, weren't very interested in shopping for clothes. In fact, we usually had to take them kicking and screaming to the stores! So Karpe and I decided to "escape" our families and head up to Reading, PA to try our hands at outlet shopping. We left early on a Saturday morning in the fall, shopped till we dropped at the Vanity Fair Outlet (mostly for the kids, but also for our husbands and ourselves), then stayed overnight in Lancaster. The next day we stuck around a few hours to shop some of the outlets there, but once her station wagon was filled with bags and ready to burst at the seams, we headed home. We had spent the whole time talking, laughing, shopping and eating -- a perfect weekend!

The following year, we left late Friday afternoon when we finished work. That way, we'd have more time to spend in Reading. By the third year, we were taking the day off on Friday so we'd have three full days to shop....and the rest is history! It was our special time together...a time when we could be by ourselves and talk about anything, serious or not. We made that trip every year for 13 years! By then, the boys were grown and she had a daughter who had reached the age where she wanted to pick out her own clothes. We still go shopping together, though, but her now teenaged daughter usually comes along, too.

Now our lives are so busy that sometimes weeks go by before we get a chance to talk on the phone; months pass when we don't get to see each other, even though we don't live very far apart. We're always together at family events, though, because she and her family are as much a part of my family as if they'd been born into it! We make the time to see each other and spend time together -- whether it's going to a craft show, like we did today...or having dinner together...or when she comes to my chorus or quartet performances or I go to her school to watch her kindergarten students perform. She's even an official groupie for my quartet! She came with us to Ocean City last April for our first competition and I'm hoping she'll come with us again next April for our second try.

We'll be together again for Thanksgiving as we are every year, this time at her house. My whole extended family will be there and I'll be helping her prepare the feast. Like I said, it really doesn't matter what it is we do when we're together; we just like to be in each other's company.

I'm thankful for Karpe, my bestest friend!

No comments:

Post a Comment