Good friends make for good times

I went home from school one day, itching to tell everyone about my new friend. I was in second grade, and had spent recess playing with a tiny pixie of a girl named Kathy Somerlade. My only complaint about my new friend was that she was far too tiny to be a good teeter-totter partner. She was half the size of the rest of us and needed a couple of sacks of potatoes to weigh her down.

Dad, who so often listened without comment, said to me, “Well, you make sure you keep her as a friend for a long, long time. I know her father and he is a very good man.”

Not yet realizing how these things worked in a small, rural school district, I asked, “How do you know her dad?”

“You have met him, too,” my dad pointed out. “Carl Somerlade comes often to help me test the soil and make conservation plans.”

The next day at school, I told Kathy my dad knew her dad.

“So, is your dad a farmer, too?” I asked.

“No. He just goes to other people’s farms and digs in their dirt,” was Kathy’s prompt answer.

A grown man who plays in the dirt? It all sounded very questionable to me, but if my dad said he was a good man, I was going to believe him.

Through thick and thin

Over the years, Kathy and I remained friends. She grew, but not much. She grew on me, though, and she grew in my heart as one of my dearest and oldest friends, and since moving to this farm, we are fairly close neighbors, as well.

A whole box of cough drops

Funny how things stand out in the mind about long friendships. I remember thinking that Kathy had the life I wanted to lead. She wore glasses when we were very little, and I envied the heck out of those as if they were a million-dollar fashion accessory.

She didn’t have to go out to any old barn and do chores. When she came to my house for a sleep-over, she politely declined helping milk the cows. She stayed inside and made us no-bake cookies instead, which gave her tons of friend points with everyone in my family.

We sat together at basketball games long before we were old enough to care one whit about the sport. She had the most adorable little purse, which made me green with envy.

She opened the tiny clasp, reached inside and produced a box that made my eyes light up. It was a box of Smith Brothers cough drops…the red, delicious ones. She was given the ENTIRE box to do with as she wished!

In my world, if I asked for a cough drop, I might be given one, and it always tasted like the color brown would taste. I had never in my life seen a child with an entire box of anything, let alone red deliciousness! Kathy sweetly shared her bounty with me.

No hand-me-downs

Because Kathy was the baby in the family by a whole lot of years, she had new everything. I had to explain hand-me-downs to her, and showed her how I went to my older sisters’ closets and made plans for my wardrobe several years down the road.

Her sweet mother, Ginny, would sew her beautiful dresses and even custom-fit pajamas that looked small enough to be doll clothes.

My Kathy-envy grew enormously when, at the ripe old age of 12, she became “Aunt Kathy” to the most adorable little baby girl named Leslie. How could one so small carry such an enormous title?

Tiny Kathy had a tiny dog, Lil Bit, that I loved as much as Kathy did. We learned together what horror and heartache felt like when the neighbor’s dog attacked and killed that sweet pup. I grieved with Kathy over that loss.

As adults

Over the years, we have shared many joys and sorrows, including the births of our babies. Cort and Joel once played on an all-star baseball team together, and Mark and my nephew grew up playing various sports.

For a stretch of time, nurse Kathy came to our home every single week to give Cort prescribed shots as he battled to get better.

We leaned on one another as we lost our beloved dads way too soon, and we now share the happy memories made along the way. When we get together, we could talk for hours.

When I count my blessings, that little girl who couldn’t teeter-totter worth a lick is right up there on the top of the list!

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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