I was never lucky to have a close relationship with my mother. I don’t know why, but all of my life, she pushed me away. She never seemed satisfied with my talents, always criticizing me for one thing or another. I had hoped when I grew up, she’d like me better. I never gave her any trouble. I tried to be good all of the time and do the right thing. But, no matter what I did or didn’t do, it was never enough. I hoped our relationship might change when I had children of my own, but it never did. I deep down wanted her for a friend, but she could never let go of her mother role.
But I needed an older woman in my life. I needed someone to guide me. Someone I could talk to when I had a challenge with my husband or daughters. I wanted someone to give me small tips of the mother trade—like how to outwit very smart kids. Someone who was willing to take the time to be with me. Someone who wanted to be my friend.
When I was a teenager, I had my next door neighbor, Mrs. Shiel, who befriended me. We’d sit at her kitchen table and talk girl to woman over a cup of Ovaltine and sugar cookies about things at school and of course, boys. When she died in her sleep, I was lost. And it was a long time before I found another woman who wanted to be my friend.
I got lucky when I was in my late 20’s. I was invited by the director of “The Racine Chorale” to come and sing with his group. This group had some of the best voices in the community, and I was honored to be asked to join them. It was here I met Marie. She was a delightful woman about my mother’s age, who eased me into the new chorus. It took me a while, but since then, Marie has been a dear friend who I love more than I can tell you. She and I are very much alike. We love to laugh and see the world with a smile. Her advice and counsel through the years has been invaluable to me. Plus, we ALWAYS have a great time when we’re together.
When Marie and her husband moved to Florida to retire when I was in my mid-30’s, I thought I would die. Selfishly, I mourned her passing onto a different life, which took her 2000 miles away. But through letters, we remained in touch, and thank God she’s computer savvy because now we email and Skype each other.
With Marie far away from home, my search for another older pal came to an end almost 20 years later when I met Joyce. She’s a strong woman who became one of my clients when I was in my financial adviser stage. She put her trust in me and one day invited me to join her Red Hat group. There I met a bunch of gray-haired ladies, but Joyce was by far my favorite. We’ve remained friends ever since. She loves Ken and understands the trials we go through because she took care of handicapped people in her home for years. She’s been a great source of comfort and support in our friendship, and I’m lucky she’s in my life.
So, even though I never got to be friends with my own mother, I’ve had a wonderful parade of others who have enriched my life with their experience and expertise in life, and at the same time where willing to befriend someone who must have seemed to be a just another kid.
I hope someday, I can return the favor for another young woman searching for an older friend. I wonder what it will be like to be on the other side of the equation.