In her recent book Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, Anna Quindlen describes the importance of friends:
"Ask any woman how she makes it through the day and she may mention her calendar, her to-do list, her baby-sitter. But if you push her on how she really makes it through her day, she will mention her girlfriends. Sometimes I will see a photo of an actress in an unflattering dress or a blouse too young for her with a heavy-handed makeup job, and I mutter 'She must not have any girlfriends.' "
How true! Like superglue, the sacred dimension of friendships cement women together supporting them through hardships and being there to share good times.
I picture those friends as flowers in a garden, each unique and colorful in her own way completing a beautiful panoramic palette.
I met my oldest friend when I was 3 and she was 5. When I first saw her, she was drawing in the dirt with a stick, and I thought that was the coolest thing to do. Without a word spoken, I dropped to my knees and joined her dirt-art; the friendship began.
I compare her to Heirloom roses that don't need coddled, fertilized or watered; no matter the weather -- rainy or dry -- they flourish. They are the flowers that, without care, survive on old homesteads and cemeteries for centuries.
Those roses add scarlet to the garden.
Many other dear friends joined my journey. Like sturdy Irises their bulbs intertwined, clutching the earth and multiplying each year.
Those Irises were school friends, church friends, and work friends. A few were mothers of my children's friends.
Like serendipity, others just happened along the way, and I'm glad.
Picture royal purple and lavender added to the scene.
Then there are good-humor friends. They are funny and happy reminding me of my favorite flower, the Shasta daisy, that sway in the summer breeze with perky faces turned toward sunshine. A phone call from them makes a cloudy day bright.
Add a splash of yellow and white.
Annuals of pink, blue and gold fill temporary spaces among the perennials. They are casual acquaintances that may not be around for a lifetime but during their brief blooming season, they can be captivating and stimulating.
Add those multiple colors to the landscape.
Of course, there are the orchids that are extremely temperamental; I could never keep one alive for any length of time. Before a bond could be fostered, their fragile, violet blooms withered and died.
I'm not sure if I smothered them with care, watered them too profusely or too little. Maybe I didn't create an environment that was compatible.
Whatever! You never know what happens but always mourn when friendships die.
Like life, there are always a few thorns in a garden, but alas, they can be controlled if handled with "kid gloves."
Gardens aren't easy to maintain. They require constant care and nurturing, but the beauty and companionship greatly surpasses the toil.
Plus, each woman needs her own garden of confidantes, counselors, and psychologists to -- as Quindlen says -- make it through the day.
"Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors, there is safety." Proverbs 11:14.
Jo is a staff writer for the Greene County Daily World. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org .