After my father died, my Mother, at sixty-something, moved into a new town to make friends and start over. I wondered how she would do; sixty- something is late to begin new friendships. I watched from my distance but looked for an apartment, just in case she decided she wanted to live near me.
First she joined Newcomers, then a retired Armed Forces Group. The Singles Group was where she met Thelma who did crafts with her best friend Sara and several other “gals” on Wednesday mornings, about ten. They made teddy bear clothes and pocket aprons for the local hospital, centerpieces, place cards, and nametags for Bridge Club and the luncheons they attended - together. Their specialty was gifts for each other. Curly haired clothespin dolls, woven napkin rings holders and painted wine goblets for their parties.
My mother was left-handed - her handwriting slant and thick. Scissors were her nemesis. I don’t ever remember Elmer’s Glue in our home. She was functional and direct, and she shopped to collect things to display upon her tables, shelves and in glass cases. She was a whiz at Bridge and Crossword puzzles. My Mother did not do crafts. But her face lit up when Thelma and Sara asked her to help make Christmas trees with glued toy blocks for the Children’s Ward.
Soon, my Mother played Bridge every Tuesday and Thursday, and had lunch with the Newcomers every other Sunday. Every Saturday morning, she drove her friends to flea markets or the mall if it rained. Often they had to take two cars because there were so many friends. When she heard about Leisure Group, she invited Thelma, Sara, Jackie and Gerrie to join her for the fun, to meet new people and take trips to the country, over mountains, across the ocean, and go Christmas shopping all over the world.
Passing Seasons entwined and tightened bonds, knitting together the hearts of my Mother and her friends. Two of them quit smoking (including my Mother), one lost her son, another lost her sight. One broke her hip, and two of them watched their children’s divorces. The friends celebrated the births of great-grandchildren, weddings, graduations, and even a new beau. They went to lunch, walked the beach, and talked. They held each other, cried and drank champagne when Thelma died.
My Mother was never lonely in her sixties or seventies. Her friends meshed within her days. I am certain now she is very busy with her friends in heaven.
I see now, to make friends at sixty or thirty is easy even if your heart is broken and you feel lost and raw. You just get dressed, go out your door, turn the corner, and trust that whomever you meet wants to meet you too –even if you can’t use scissors or don’t own glue.