I love to pick out greeting cards. Back when the kids were younger, it was cheap entertainment. We'd all go to the store to pick out the cards together. I remember the day we had to pick out a couple birthday cards, a get well card, and a sympathy card. I stood with Brianna, Dylan, and Cara in front of the card rack and we read cards aloud to each other, and laughed our hinders off.
You can't rush a decision like that, so we took our time, and finally managed to agree on two hilarious birthday cards. Continuing on, we then carefully selected a comical get well card. Then we moved on to the sympathy cards. We read, one card after another, looking for the perfect card. Cara was only six or seven at the time, and she finally gave a huge snort of disgust. "What's wrong with you?" I asked peering at her over the top of my reading glasses. "This will take forever; I've read all these cards," she said, waving her hand at the rack of sympathy cards, 'and I have not found one funny one yet."
Being the sort of family that we are, we laughed ourselves stupid over that comment. We were still laughing about it on the car trip home, inventing our own line of comical sympathy cards, composing hysterically funny verses in our heads, and calling them out, and laughing even more.
At the store where I work, we have 'Leaning Tree' cards. I love those things. I picked out one for my oldest friend Mary. She's had a birthday, and I won't tell you how old she is. That's her husband's job and he used to put some goofy poem in the paper that he's written in the paper. They were sweet. Well. Except for the year she turned the big 5-oh. It's hard to come up with words that rhyme with that 'oh' on the end of 'the big 5', but Danny is an inventive soul. He came up with 'commando' and 'bean-o', among other things, coming up with a poem that embarrassed his wife to bits. Mary was still plenty mad about it days later talking to me about it. I guess Danny can count his blessings that he survived to celebrate his own birthday that year. Me, too, I suppose, because I shouldn't have laughed, but I did. I about fell across the table as Mary vented her spleen, and, privately, I thanked the good Lord that I'm married to a quiet man who fumbles for his words.
In any case, this year I got Mary a card that reads, "With age comes wisdom." When you open it, it reads, "I don't know about you, but I'd trade a little of that for the cute butt I had when I was 19." I laughed until I cried when I first read it, and I knew it was the perfect birthday card for her. I remember being 12 with my friend. I remember being 19 with my friend. And 30.and 40andwell. You get the drift. So I bought the card and tucked it away, and I have been chuckling over it ever since. 42 years is a long time to have a friend, and I figure that I know her well enough to predict that she'll laugh as hard as I did when she reads it.
A sweet faced elderly lady was in my line the other day, and she had a fistful of those darn 'Leaning Tree' cards. I'd already read most of them, so I scanned them, commenting, 'Oh, wasn't this one the funniest thing?' and 'I loved this one' and 'Did you see the one that read?' and the like. And she chuckled with me. As I put her cards in a bag, I said, 'You know what's even better than these cards?' and she said, interestedly, 'No, what?' I looked at her. 'The best thing in the world is having a friend that you can send cards like this to.' And considering this, she nodded. 'You are right about that.'
Last semester, in our Life Span class, the teacher put a question to our class. 'How many of you have a friendship that has lasted all your life? All through elementary school. All through high school, and beyond?' Granted, I was older than everyone in this class, but it still surprised me that my hand was the only hand that went up. I did not know Mary in elementary school, but I met her on my first day at Youngsville High School, both of us lowly seventh graders. Girls these days seem to argue a lot with their friends, say horrible things, hate each other, patch things up, and then fight again. Neither Mary or I remember arguing. We were very best friends. Sometimes we got preoccupied in different cliques for a while, but always, we came back, still friends, still glad to see each other. That friendship has taken us through school. It's taken us through thick and thin, and I'm not just talking about waistlines here. We've done stupid things. We've laughed together, those big laughing sessions that wind up in gasps and tears. We've cried, those big crying sessions that also wind up in gasps and tears. We've moved through the mothering years dispensing advice to each other. We've encouraged each other. We've offered up wisdom to one another when wise words were needed.
And now that we are in our fifties, we don't need so much advice from one another. We have good husbands, and good strong marriages. Our children are grown. Most of the questions that bothered us all of our lives have been put to rest, but still we talk on. Now we talk about God, and what God expects from us, and what God means for us to be doing. It makes me smile that all these years later, we still look for the answers in each other.
I am very blessed to have my friend. And you know what? No matter how many greeting cards I look through, there is no card that will convey all of that. None. So I buy a funny card that reminds her that even long, long ago we were friendsand that I still remember.
Happy birthday, Mary!
Debby Hornburg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her blog can be found at lifesfunnylikethat.blogspot.com