This I Believe

Margaret - Corpus Christi, Texas
Entered on February 16, 2008
Age Group: 65+

THIS I BELIEVE

I believe in friends.

My golden friends are four women with whom I shared an apartment in New Orleans after we graduated from Touro Infirmary School of Nursing in 1951.

Dot our redhead, Frankie the bookkeeper, Tom the peacemaker, Alliean our glamour girl, and myself, the communicator.

After a couple of years our ranks thinned. Alliean married Eddie and moved to Florida, Tom married Bob and moved to Kentucky, Frankie married Les and moved to Alabama, Dot married Bill and moved to North Carolina. And I joined the Navy to see the world, and find my mate: handsome Jack.

Alliean was my closest friend and always will be; she knows too much! We were roommates and soul mates. It was she who helped me through the crisis of a broken heart as she held me in her arms, soothed my sobbing and explained me to myself.

All five of us stayed in touch, at least with Christmas cards, as our families grew, among us producing 22 children.

Thirty years later, in 1981, we met at Dot’s home in Charlotte, N.C. I almost didn’t go. What if I found I no longer knew these folks? Blessedly, it was as if we’d walked out the door of our old apartment one day, and walked back in the next. Dot’s children summed it up by asking why they had to clean the whole house when we sat around the kitchen table and talked the entire weekend.

Our reunions became an annual event. For a few years we began by passing around pictures of our children and grandchildren. Eventually, it evolved into a quick recap: “My family’s fine, how’s yours?” followed by “Good, let the games begin!” We named ourselves NOLA, for Nurses of Long Acquaintance and New Orleans, LA where it all began.

We concentrated on having fun but were also able to help each other during trying times. Alliean missed one gathering because her husband died that week. Tom and Frankie, both widows, compassionately called her every evening. A few years later we all rejoiced with Alliean when she met and married Bob, who was warned she would disappear for a week each spring.

We share our lives, thoughts and feelings. Our beauty secrets have evolved from which creams, potions or home permanents are best. Now we discuss remedies for aches, pains and other indignities of aging. But if I remove my bifocals and squint a little I can still see those fresh faced girls clutching our carfare as we wait for the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar to take us to the French Quarter.