|You'll never guess who snapped this picture of us;|
read on to find out!
Once upon a time I ran with a wild bunch of gals. We met at church and all through our years of frivolity and foolishness we continued to be faithfully involved in that holy place.
I was not a troublemaker as a child, or as a teen, or even in my college years. Yes, there were times of the usual immaturity and a sprinkling of poor choices, but compared to most, I was pretty much a "goody two shoes." As a matter of fact, I was accused of that with those very words by my pastor's daughter in my teen years.
So with that in mind, maybe by the time I hit the end of my fifth decade, it was time to loosen up a bit. And even at that, I think of myself as the stodgy one of the four other girls who made up our little group of friends.
As I said, we met at church, initially all in my husband's Sunday School class. Two of us were married, two were widowed, and one was divorced. Three of us had children, two did not. One was crazy for dogs, one had a crazy boss, one was a kindergarten teacher who had morphed into a professional nanny, and one was a transplant from Texas who could make me laugh so hard that ice tea threatened to come out my nose.
Somehow we all figured out at that stage of our lives that we needed each other. We filled shoes in each other's lives that nobody else could.
I guess it first started to gel when I invited them to my home on a Saturday morning for a tea party brunch to celebrate a birthday, complete with my mother-in-law's pretty china, a pink table cloth, stemware for our orange juice and dainty lady-food.
That was well and fine; we had a good time. But then Easter came a few weeks later and four of us discovered that Peter Rabbit had left a basket of goodies on our front door steps. Then somebody else found her car had been decorated overnight in celebration of her birthday.
It went on from there.
The most memorable celebration was when somebody turned 65 and we were invited to a small apartment to have birthday lunch. The food was lovely, the decorations festive, and when we completed the meal, the assumption was that it was time to head to our cars.
But oh no! Our hostess from the Long Horn State was nowhere near ready to let us depart. And there was the doorbell. Would somebody go answer it?
Thinking it was just a salesman or something like that, the rest of us just stood around while our hostess ushered in, of all people, Elvis!
YES!!! He was dressed in white with the pompadour hairstyle and an embarrassing roll of fat that peeked out from between his shirt and pants.
We were instructed to sit on the couch, which we all dutifully did in a straight row, not knowing just exactly how to act or what to say. I mean, he was LARGER THAN LIFE and just standing on the opposite side of the coffee table from us. I was sort of thrilled and sort of suffocating all at the same time.
He put on a good show for us, crooning as only he can and making us feel much younger and unattached than we were -- it was embarrassing and thrilling all at the same time.
And then, did you know Elvis was adept at making twisted balloon sculptures? Oh yes. He made a bouquet for each of us out of long skinny balloons in many colors. He was amazing.
Before he left, we asked him to take a snapshot of the five of us, which he did at no additional charge.
A couple of hours later as we stumbled out to our respective cars, I shook my head and wondered how I would explain all of that to my husband. I had done not a thing wrong, and yet I knew I had been to probably the wildest party of my life and it felt strange.
In the years that followed, we continued to have many happy times as well as some deep, deep personal losses that brought us together to cry and share casserole dishes.
The last time the five of us were together, we sat in the dusky light on one's patio, sharing our personal current events. Little did we know that our times together were nearly at an end.
Just a couple of weeks later, one of the girls was oddly silent for a couple of days. A family member asked us to accompany her to investigate. I chose to not go, fearful of what would be found.
Those who went saw that she was sitting quietly in a chair, had been for a day or two. Her body that is. She was not there. She had been called Home to be with Jesus. Quietly and peacefully. We had no doubt whatsoever that she was in that better place with our Lord.
We all sat together at the memorial service and held no tears back. It was sad and it was cleansing all at the same time.
Shortly after that our Texas friend felt the call to return from whence she had come. Then a couple of years after that the Nanny decided it was time to retire and move to the Land of Lincoln to be closer to family.
Two of us remain here in Colorado and we always celebrate our birthdays together, along with special lunches at Christmas. We hike and shop and eat and do our best to keep in touch with those of our group who live faraway. The crazy days appear to be done now and we have settled into a more serious rhythm with our lives.
But today is special. It's a decorate-her-car-in-the-pre-dawn-light kind of day. It's the Nanny's birthday. Although she is so very far away in miles, she is really only an email or a Face Book post away. We see her pretty photos from time to time and remember her generous contributions to a most enriching circle of friendship.
Happy Birthday, Nanny! You look just wonderful and you have a most beautiful heart!