Back in the fifties, when I was about twelve, my mom wanted me to stay over for a couple of weeks or longer at her best friends home. They had been roommates in college in Canada but mom’s friend married and moved to the USA. They visited often, mostly her friend and family would visit us in Canada, and we called them Aunt Norma, Uncle Bern and Kenny and Jimmy—their sons were called our cousins. Aunt Norma only had two boys, no girls so the thought was that maybe my mom’s friend might need and appreciate some female companionship, so off I went traveling to the USA.
I have to say I wasn’t thrilled about it. One of Aunt Norma’s boys was my age and I think my mom and his mom had visions of the two of us one day becoming romantically involved. Well, that never happened— no indeed, no way! Off I went just to please my mom and make her best friend happy. I will say both boys were just as unenthusiastic as I was about this arrangement so we actually stayed away from each other as much as possible. What looked like a bad situation to me actually turned into one of the best memories of my life. I’m at my mom’s friend’s home and tried my best to be a good girl because I also knew from listening to my mom’s orders before I left for the visit that I’d better be good or else. Back in those days the “or else” had many, many meanings and none would be good for sure! I would go outside and just walk up and down the block to fill in time when one day I saw a girl my age sitting on her front porch. I walked over and introduced myself and we became friends, eventually becoming a lifetime friendship. I remember we just chatted on her porch day after day laughing about me and my Canadian way of speaking, just having fun. I wanted to go shopping with her to the local stores that were close to her home and my aunt’s. So we got permission from my aunt and her mom and off we went on our walks to downtown Royal Oak. It was just wonderful looking in store windows that we didn’t have back home in Canada. We sort of made it an everyday trip just for fun. We would always stop at the lunch counter at the Woolworth store and have an ice cream soda, sharing with two straws because it was cheaper that way at just five cents. It was also a lovely way to express that we cared for each other. In those days an ice cream soda came in your choice of flavors as long as the ice cream was vanilla.
When it was time to go back home to Canada, I remember we hugged each other and cried but promised to keep in touch by mail. Telephoning was out of the question in those days because it cost too much per call. We wrote each other every single week and then she went away to college to get her teaching degree. We did lose track of each other for awhile but when we got back together, we were both happily married and I was living not far from her in the good ol’ USA. We rekindled our friendship and spent many a great time remembering our childhood memories.
The moral of this story is good friends are hard to come by and it makes no difference what they look like. Just treasure those precious moments, make new friends and be kind, thoughtful and most of all, be a loving, caring friend.
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