It’s true that old friends can be gold, especially in our golden years. Many studies demonstrate the value of a social network to our physical and mental health, and it’s true, but a friendship that has endured for 62 years is something else entirely. I met Vicky when I was five and she was six – playing at her house I remember the calendar on the wall – 1959. She was a tall and skinny kid, infinitely kind, and bookish like me. Together we climbed trees, swam in the river, played in the woods, and rode our bikes to get to the library in our small New England town. We were freckled and bare foot each summer, and as we morphed into teens, we stayed close, looking like sisters with our long brown hair, embroidered shirts and hippie skirts. Together we learned about the adulthood that lay ahead of us, sharing knowledge, secrets, and even the first boyfriend each of us had. When her mother died, I was 21, going to journalism school in Oregon. Vicky was home in Rhode Island trying to keep her family together. On the night she died, it was I who dreamed of her, with a glowing light around her and loving smile on her face. Though Vicky wished she had had that dream, my own mother stepped up her role in Vicky’s life, staying in touch and visiting her over the years.
While we didn’t remain literally close, and there were years we forgot to be in touch, the bond remained. When my husband died in 2010, Vicky showed up to see me through. A year later I visited her in Vermont. More recently, during the long year of the pandemic, when we’ve all had time to mull over what matters most in life, Vicky and I started a habit of monthly FaceTime sessions. We are two old childhood friends on the screen laughing about our aging selves, and talking, for hours, about books, about the men we love, our grown children, and our plans to get together when we can once again travel. Gold indeed.
Lee Stevens is a writer and a Weaver living in the mountains of western North Carolina. www.strawintogoldwriting.com