Reconnecting with old friends gives opportunities to re-live youth

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“There is no friend like an old friend who has shared our morning days, no greeting like his welcome, no homage like his praise.”

— Oliver Wendell Holmes

The door opened, and our childhood returned. Kathy, our neighbor girl from my earliest memories, came for a visit after too many years to count.

Return to youth

In greeting us, Kathy said she had felt a rush of peace as she drove closer, just being surrounded by corn and soybeans as she returned to the farming community that had been her first home. There was an easy, jubilant return to the camaraderie of our youth.

We enjoyed lunch together around our mother’s kitchen table, but did much more talking than dining, and the afternoon was a sweet serving of what we would order if asked to create the best kind of day.

Shared family

Kathy was born in to the middle of a family of six children, all of whom we spent a great deal of time within my earliest recollection. Kathy’s oldest sibling lived with us during his senior year of high school when his family moved away, and became a shared big brother.

Our roots span the generations, as our parents were friends long before they became parents, sharing the joy of the journey. There were two big brothers followed by four Likes girls to match up with us four Young girls, and it had seemed we would always be together.

Adventures

Kathy remembered barn adventures with my sister Sher, brave and fun, and I remember our oldest sisters, Ava and Sandie, seeming to be on the verge of movie star status at all times.

Though I was quite young, my memories of their home remain strong. We played endless board games, drank cold milk from their big kitchen milk cooler with a drawing tap and walked across the fields to meet up between chores. We made up our own outdoor games, played in the barns on rainy days and built the kind of childhood every kid should be lucky enough to live.

We enjoyed sleepovers filled with little sleep and lots of whispered ghost stories, a flashlight passed around our circle of storytellers.

Over the years we shared many meals and simple adventures filled with laughter. And then the day came that we fought tears when we learned it was all going to end with a moving truck.

Years later

The Likes family is scattered across the country, with Kathy and her second-born brother the only ones remaining in Ohio. She finds it remarkable that all four of us Young girls live within the same farming community where we sprouted.

It was my recent Farm and Dairy column about Sunday drives to nowhere in those simpler times that prompted Kathy to reconnect to all we once shared. I remember once hearing that even though we may not remember specific stories exchanged over our years with someone, we will always remember the way they made us feel.

Pulling up a chair with Kathy, catching up on the present and sharing memories of our past brought the comfort of childhood friendship rushing back, like a cozy sweater on a chilly autumn day.

With Kathy’s ebullient sparkle, I felt her mother’s spunky, welcoming presence all these years later. Of our four parents, my mother is the only remaining, and her home once again held us for a sweet moment in time.

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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.

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