Shelia and I have been friends since the seventh grade -- back when she had a long blonde ponytail and often wore a flower in her hair. Our friendship continued throughout high school, summer school in Monterrey, Mexico, various beach weeks, and on to college -- at one point we shared an apartment over a beauty parlor in Gainesville, Florida with two other girls. It was Shelia who drove the getaway car in the sorority tea caper that I wrote about HERE.
In 1963, we both married our long-time sweethearts -- I was a bridesmaid in her wedding and few months later, she was a bride's matron in mine. Time passed; she and her husband moved away and then came back; John and I did the same. But we always kept in touch by letters.
When John and I made the move to the mountains, Shelia would come to visit in the summer, helping me build little rock walls, climbing the mountain to watch the sunrise, and generally spurring me on to do more in a day that I would normally attempt. Once, in spite of having a cold, she helped me top a sick neighbor's tobacco plants --- and I taught her how to blow her nose without a handkerchief.
Eventually she and her husband bought a vacation house in our county so over the years, we've been able to visit even more frequently. And yesterday, Shelia came over in the morning to help me plant my garden -- some basil and parsley, and forty four tomato plants.
As we worked, I thought about what a fine thing friendship is. Shelia and I have rather different political and religious views but long ago we seem to have decided not to discuss them. Instead we enjoy the things we do agree on -- western North Carolina and books and flowers and food and digging in the dirt.
Nearly sixty years of friendship . . . where does the time go?