Last week we had a 70 degree day; on the weekend, there were freeze warnings at night. Today it was a windy 81 degrees here. It is hard to know what season we are in. The sweaters and heavy pants are put away and then dragged out again. It is spring and everyone fancies flowers and green grass.
This last weekend we met our friends in Branson for a long overdue visit. It has been roughly four years since we had an extended session of catching up. Texting and email make for fast memo type postings, but gone are those long letters we used to both write and wait for. We also had phase of exchanging 90 minute cassette tapes and that was wonderful. Finding a tape in the mail meant grabbing some tea and hiding out in my rocker to listen to their life’s events. It was almost like being there.
We all met in some duplex type apartments in Hazelwood, Missouri near St. Louis in the 1970s. DH had just gone to work at MacDonnell Douglas aircraft and Jim had just returned from Vietnam. The wives followed. We all came to the city from small towns. Neither couple had any money, but we sure had fun. We played marble games and dominos; we each had a dog; we pooled our leftovers together to make a new meal about once a week.
After a couple of years, we each moved back closer to families, to live in small bergs where we hoped to sink roots and have families. We ended up living roughly 400 miles apart, but we stayed in touch on paper. Then we both had the first babies and when they were about a year old, we got together for a visit. They taught us macramé and we taught them basket weaving. Thus a tradition of gathering every couple of years was started.
Eventually, we each had two boys. My oldest was to go to college an hour and half away from them and he used their home as a “visit home” when he needed. I will always appreciate their open door and their generosity of their washing machine! We took turns attending the boys’ weddings and shared tears when some failed. We waiting on grandbabies together.
So it was great to see them again in person, to really catch up on each other’s lives. The men, old retired gents now, get to fish all they want as long as they want. But guess what, they tired out early this weekend!!! We agreed to eat one good meal out and to snack in the evening. Ah, so much less dishwashing now! We met at the Keeter Center at School of the Ozarks for lunch on Saturday. It is a lovely place to eat, the students make great waiters, the food is wonderful, and the restaurant has the best iced of any place we know.
For the last few years, I cry as we drive away. We have always had a good time, but age has made me even more aware of how precious life is, how things can turn on a dime, how someday things won’t always be the same for us four. So often friends come and go. It is a gift that we all have hung together for 45 years.