#378–Friendships that endure . . .

Note: No more blog posts until mid-May as I will be going to California to see family and friends. At times like this, I’m glad I rent my downstairs. There is always someone at home––even when I’m not.

Ever since I’ve lived in Oregon—going on 38 years—I’ve gone back to California on a regular basis to see family and friends. I was thinking about that the other day. Often, when someone moves away, the friendships slowly fade, but I’ve had a few that have endured. And I treasure them.

In this 7th grade photo, I am to the far left and my friend, Rosemary, is second in from the right.

The earliest friend that I’m still in contact with is Rosemary. When my family moved to the Kern River Valley in the southern end of the Sierra Nevada  mountains in 1954, I met Rosemary in 7th grade when I started my new school. As it turned out, her father worked for the power company just like mine. When we did our school work, she would get the same grade as me on nearly everything. In math, we’d both miss the same number of problems or we’d get them all correct. That happened almost every day. We stayed in touch over the years through marriages, children, careers.

Here’s Rosemary when I visited her about 2010.

During the past 20+ years, I saw her at least once each year until she moved from California to near Atlanta, Georgia, a few years ago to be closer to her children. We still write and occasionally call. What’s more, our birthdays are on the same day, and we’re the same age.

My college friends came to visit me up in the Kern River Valley one weekend. Anne, Judy, Teeta, me, and Phyllis seated in front next to the family dog, Rusty.

And at college, I was placed with two dorm roommates who were best friends and had been since grade school. Teeta and Phyllis were from Mojave and I from the Kern River Valley. I was the odd one, but they made me feel welcome and included me in their activities. As it turned out, we were all in the marching band. Two clarinets and I played flute. We could all practice together.

Here’s Teeta on a visit in 2017. . .

We were friends during college, through marriages, children, careers, deceased husbands, and friendship continues to this day.

. . . and here’s Phyllis on a visit in 2016.

On my last trip to California, Christmas 2022, I visited Phyllis, who lives near Grass Valley, first for a few days and then after spending two weeks with my sister and the rest of my family, I spent a few days with Teeta in Palo Alto before heading home. Whether it has been six months or two years, when we see each other, it’s just like we last saw each other yesterday. We simply pick-up where we left off.

I had two special friends during my teaching years and the three of us started teaching at Blossom Hill School in Los Gatos, California, the same year. And the three of us were K–3 teachers in the old wing. Ann taught 2nd and 3rd grades, I taught 2nd and 1st grades, and Jean taught Kindergarten. After I moved up to Oregon, I would go back to California to see friends and family about twice a year. I would stay with Jean and for a couple years, I’d join a group of four or five Blossom Hill teachers at the same breakfast place we used to meet. Then it was just Jean and Ann I’d see.

This is the staff at Blossom Hill School in 1966. My two closest friends were Jean next to me on the left end of the second row and Ann the tall gal fourth from the left on the back row. Madeline, who died the youngest, when she got Lymphoma in the early 1990s is on the right at the end of the second row.

Fast forward 15 years, both Ann and Jean retired after about 40 years of teaching at the same school for both of them. During her last months of teaching, Ann developed short-term memory loss that spiraled into a fast-paced form of dementia. Within two years, she was gone—age 67. Then Jean developed Lymphoma. It was the first of five occurrences over the next 10 years. During this time, I continued to visit her. She survived the first four, but the fifth got her. There was Jean and me and one other gal, Madeline, who taught for 30 years in the old wing of the school who were diagnosed with Lymphoma and Ann with dementia. I’m the only one left alive. I’m convinced it was the asbestos all four of us were exposed to for decades. I can’t prove it, the old wing was replaced several years ago and everyone I worked with is no longer there.

My friend, Theresa, taken about eight years ago.

And then there’s my Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines colleague. Theresa. From the start, it felt like we’d known each other for years. She came to Florence to replace me as Managing Editor at the magazines when I retired—the first time back in 2002. I continued writing for the magazines during the next two and a half years and Theresa was my editor. We became fast friends. Then I returned to the magazine for another five years—a total of 21 years.

Theresa and I are visiting the ghost town of Calico in 2018.

She left the magazine and  worked several years as a reporter and then editor at our Siuslaw News here in Florence, and we remained friends.

Then eight years ago, she moved to California to help care for her elderly mom and stepdad in the LA area. I hated to see her leave, but I’ve seen her each time I’ve gone to California since then. During my visits we’ve taken some multi-day trips that have provided great memories. And many, many day-trips to beaches, museums, and missions that provided more great memories.

Here I am with my sister, Edna, on Vinylhaven Island off the coast of Maine in 2018.

 So, I tend to keep my friends.

And, I’ll include my sister, Edna, who is also one of my closest friends. She has come to stay with me twice in 2014-15 when I was battling chemo. She came and stayed with me for two weeks when I had my total knee replacement in 2020. And we have taken some wonderful trips together prior to Covid in 2015, 2018, and 2019. And we call each other every few weeks and talk for at least an hour each time. Prior to Covid, I came down to Bakersfield usually three times a year. And we always had a good time.

Here in Florence today, I have friends that I thoroughly enjoy being with that may turn into enduring friendships.

I read somewhere once that love affairs don’t always last but true friendships do. I couldn’t agree more.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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