Meaning of Friend
It is different to define friend from friendship. My friend would tell me to speak for myself. But, now that I am losing my friend, I speak for the two of us.
We met at an Intercollegiate Student YM-YW summer project. About thirty of us lived in the Hartford Seminary and worked in industry. We worked in different departmets of the Underwood Typewriter Factory. I had been active on campus (Spelman College), had attended regional conferences (my train was the only one going that way!), and had urged three others to attend.
Along the way, I had gained the name Boots. Whit came from an idyllic small town in MA with a waterfall in the yard, a river across the street and private school. She is two years older and had been a Danny Grad (Danforth Fellowship) and worked for the YWCA. Our friendship started with her pulling covers off each morning to get me out to the job. At night the group shared meals, high-jinks and serious seminars about labor.
Her giving nature recommended me for a Danny which had no diversity at that time. The president of my college was the main reference and she declined to support me. She had no knowledge of this program and would have preferred to submit a student of her choice. This was a deep disappointment to my friend. She went to Columbia to study religion and I was the only single woman in the Howard University School of Religion.
Our lives crisscrossed over the next many years. Short visits, quick notes, punctuated lives of marriage, children and family elders. She, the more understanding of her faith, used her quiet resolve to listen and act for justice in ways I never did.
Faced with the death of my in-laws and dissolution of a long marriage, her counsel gave me the ability to shape my days into productive years. When her husband and companion of more than fifty years died, she shared with me her fears. Fortunately, the telephone rates became manageable so that we could talk everyday.. We lived apart connecting through our friendship, concern for health and safety of the other.
There was more. I learned from her to ask myself: what were the skills you used to get through all the bad times in your life? That was like a splash of cold water in the face. She learned from me to use a computer to publish her writings, to be more confident in her art. She had always known about my life and I learned how parallel lives can be.
We both aged as gracefully as possible. Our daughters – and my sons – began to be more parent as we tried to maintain a standard of independence. She tried her best to get me to plan for the unknown future.
Last Tuesday, I had surgery and her every thought and prayer was for my health. I learned she did this for me even though, that same day, she suuddenly was nearing her own death. I protest but cannot, will not, lose my friend of over 64 years.
Please see Changes, a post in