“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”
— Lois Wyse
There is a cup of wisdom in every conversation with new friends we make along life’s way, and it is a gift to be sought in every season of this life. One friendship that stands out to me when I look back on my life proved to be an example set by my mother.
Mom was a young high school student when she accepted a job in a department store. After years of babysitting, it was her first job that had set hours and training within various departments. An older woman saw something in the young girl, took her under her wing, and a life-long friendship began, holding strong and steady long after my mother married and moved to start a farm and a family with her beau.
Every month or so when I was a child, the lady with white hair and a sweet disposition came calling, as she referred to it. She never arrived without a phone call to set a day that would not be an imposition. Mrs. Mac, as my mother always referred to her, really was a lady in every single way. Always in a dress and high heeled pumps, Mrs. Mac nearly always wore pearls and a smile. “It is so good to see you, and your lovely little daughters. My, oh my, look how you all have grown!” A tiny wrapped candy was often drawn from her shiny, black handbag. One for each of us. It was a sweet gift that we appreciated.
Letters and cards were exchanged between the young mother and the retired lady, filled with encouragement, advice and wisdom. “You got a card from Mrs. Mac!” one of us would exclaim as we walked in the door with the daily mail. It made for a happy moment in a work-filled day for our mom.
Later in my life, I would learn that Mrs. Mac had not had an easy life, though she floated through ours as a charming, divine, polished woman who had every single thing in the world figured out. Truth be told, her first husband had been horribly abusive. Two sons born to the marriage were still quite young when it ended in divorce, a rarity with a blush of shame in that day and age.
In time, unexpectedly, a wonderful gentleman courted her with the promise he would treat her and her sons as the best thing that ever happened to him. Love blossomed, and they were a happy family. Mr. Mac, as she always referred to her second husband, provided security, kindness and bounty with a giving heart. It was the first time in her life she could prepare square meals with the extras that make life grand. Life was serene and joyful. Until, suddenly, Mr. Mac became ill and died.
There was no security built into a loss like this back in the late 1930s. Mrs. Mac struggled to hold on to the home, and eventually, she and her sons had to move to a much smaller place, to take little jobs to buy food. It was other women who saved her, offering produce from gardens, eggs, a fresh chicken, little jobs for her sons with their payment often apples or berries from an orchard at the end of a day.
The genuine friendship Mrs. Mac offered my young mother was born from life experiences. “You don’t really need me, but I’m always here if you do,” was written into this gentle lady’s lifelong sweetness toward my mother, and, by extension, to four little girls. This friendship was a lovely testament to the importance of connections with people of all ages, all stations of life. Not long ago, I told my mother that I’d had a dream of Mrs. Mac. “Oh, I think of her often,” Mom said. “Her friendship was such a blessing to me, and I often hope she knew that.”
I have no doubt the feeling was mutual. It is a gift worth striving for, and as a result I have enjoyed the friendships of women of all ages throughout my life, all thanks to the soft touch of kindness brought to us by Mrs. Mac.
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