11 March 2008

The Gift of Friends

I just got an email from my friend, Cheryl. She is zany, brilliant and everything I want to be when I grow up. How we met should be book and movie material.

Let's crank it back to 1977. My father was the parking meter patrolman for the City of Herrin(like maybe 11,000 peeps at the time). The kind of town where everybody knows your name, especially if your the parking meter patrolman who issues tickets when your meter expires. When I first came across Cheryl, she was writing a weekly column for the paper, The Herrin Spokesman. I always read her column and enjoyed it immensely as she personified it by talking about the various people in town, listing their birthdays, birth of children and had the latest news about what company was coming into town or whatever. Cheryl kept our collective fingers on the pulse of Herrin and its residents.

UNTIL the day that in her column she started griping about the parking meter patrolman and how he had given her so many tickets and basically he should be quartered and drawn. I had never spoken to her before or, for that matter, met her.

But the day had come. NOBODY talks about MY dad! She always included her phone number at the end of her column and I dialed it and proceded to read her the riot act-how DARE she write mean things about my dad, etc.

It got to be a joke when I brought the article to Dad's attention. I can't remember what Cheryl's job was at the time, but it was definitely in public relations where she had to contact businesses, etc. and she spent the day moving from parking spot to parking spot and would inevitably forget or neglect to put more money in the parking meter, thus getting a ticket. Dad developed a soft spot for Cheryl and either got tired of writing her tickets or felt bad for her, for he started feeding her meter himself when he would come across her car. He also teased her about how she drove faster than the speed of sound and when he saw her coming, he would head for the safety of the sidewalk...

Over the years Cheryl has become my forever friend. She has 2 beautiful daughters who have presented her with 5 phenomenal grandchildren. We have seen each other through job changes, divorces, remarriages, relocations, critically ill husbands and children and my cancer. To me, she is the unsinkable Molly Brown and Herrin's finest cheerleader.

When I was in Herrin taking care of the boys last week, I picked up a copy of a new, independent newspaper in Herrin at McDonalds, only to see the face of Cheryl on the front as she had begun freelancing for the paper with another newsy column. I picked up my cell and called her and we had a great chat. We always pick up our conversation just like we saw each other yesterday. She has been one of my strongest crusaders in my cancer fight and she's the type of friend that all I would have to do is pick up the phone and say I need ~anything~ and she would take care of it.

I sit here in awe and think of what I would have missed in my life had my path not crossed with Cheryl.

Most of my friends have been made through work, school, church, etc.

But she is the only friend I ever made through defending my dad. She thought the world of my dad and she will email and mention my dad and it's as if he never died. Cheryl keeps him alive in my world and I will always be grateful.

Please share your stories of friends you have made in unusual circumstances.

And know that I am blessed beyond blessed for those of you who are also my forever friends through this blog.

Let the good times continue to roll.


Steph said...


Isn't it wondeful to know that you have friends who can always lift your spirits and make you smile. Sometimes you don't even need to talk to them, just knowing that they are there is enough.


Kellan said...

Hi Ness - I have a sister named Cheryl. Your Cheryl sounds like a wonderful friend - I'm glad she always reminds you of your father.

Hope you have been well - I've missed see you - take care - Kellan

Catty Ax Lady said...

The very few friends I have were all met in ordinary ways, even if they touch my life in extraordinary ways. I'm glad you've got a friend like that in Cheryl...she sounds wonderful!

kimmy said...

Sounds like Cheryl is a great friend. It is so have to have someone like that in your life. Hallie is like that to me...of course, you already knew that thought!

Have a great day Ness!


Alice said...

What a beautiful post about friendship. I, too, know how valuable those relationships are. I lost my best friend almost two years ago, but I try my best to keep her memory alive and our friendship strong through her children.

This was a lovely reminder of the power of friendship!