It had been forty years since I had come home to enjoy an East Coast spring. Surrounded by beauty, I took in the forthysia, flowering fruit trees, redbud and, my favorite, the dogwood in bloom. Every morning I delighted in the birdsong and smiled whenever I spied a robin in the grass.
The occasion for my trip was a reunion with two, dear “little girl” friends who I have known for over fifty years. A third friend, who might have joined us, was recovering from a terrible accident, so it was just Barb, Jessie and myself who got together. (Feel better, Cory!) Three years ago, after many years of little or no contact, we had enjoyed a “meet up” in Bethlehem, PA., the town where we had all grown up.
I had met my friends in January, 1960, when my folks and I had moved to Bethlehem. I was upset about the move, nervous to think of making new friends and terrified of my new battle-ax of a fourth grade teacher. Fortunately, she seated me between Cory and Barb, who immediately began whispering and giggling with me. Walking home from school that day, they introduced me to Barb, then in third grade.
Barb, Jessie and I all came together at Barb’s lovely home in Greenville, SC. She then chauffeured us south to her beach house – charming – on Kiawah Island, near Charleston.
I had been unprepared for the unspoiled beauty and peace of Kiawah. Finally, after years of reading and rereading Pat Conroy’s novels, I got to experience the Low Country of South Carolina, marshes, beaches, swamps and even a sniff of pluff mud when the tide was low.
Although we never met, I kept my eye out for this guy, who Barb has encountered the previous week, all fifteen feet of him.
We three had a wonderful day touring Charleston, this gracious old city looking at its best with gardens in full bloom. The predicted rains held off as we walked down to the Battery, then returned for shopping and a delicious lunch. I couldn’t get enough of that she-crab soup…
Best of all, I will remember the six days of spending time with Barb and Jessie, laughing and talking about the past and our current lives. Never blessed with siblings, these women are a “memory bank” for me. I treasured their stories of my parents, even my grandparents. It is such a comfort to have them back in my life and to make plans for more reunions in the years to come. Jessie and Barb, you are my forever friends. Whenever I see your shining faces, I feel loved, welcomed and I know I am coming home.