Sunday, April 2, 2023

Lunch With the Tootsie Sister

A few weeks ago I had a chance to meet up with my long-time friend, The Tootsie Sister, as she is known in these podcasts. She is a lifelong friend from my high school days. She is the friend who went to work at the Minnesota State Fair with me as the first women on the crew at the gates taking tickets, way back in 1976. She was my maid of honor when I got married 44 years ago. She is intertwined and connected in my life as much as anyone can be. We are just that close.

While it took more than a month of checking schedules and finding a time we could meet up, we finally were able to get together at Olive Garden for lunch and some time away from everything else in life. A time to catch up on what is going on in our lives. And this time we were meeting as two retired people. My friend has finally retired as of the first of the year.

When we both got out of our cars in the parking lot we bear-hugged each other and walked into the restaurant, both of us chatting a mile a minute as we were walking in. As we followed the greeter to our seat, we were grateful to be put back in a corner booth where we could sit and not have a lot of people and their conversations flowing into ours., and ours into theirs.

Menus glanced at and the typical never-ending salad, soup and breadsticks ordered, we got  comfortable in our booth and ready for a long awaited visit. In looking at my friend, the first thing I noticed was her rested and relaxed appearance compared to the last time we were together. I could tell the past few months of retirement so far had done wonders for her. And as I mentioned it, she agreed how much fun retirement has been so far. 

We chatted about our kids and grandkids, filling each other in on how sometimes they can worry us to the point of great anxiety. And at other times how they can make us want to remember not to interfere in their grown up lives. Even though we had our opinions on how we would do things if we were in the same situations. Just one more conundrum of being a parent to adult children…what’s OK  and what’s off limits. Luckily between us nothing is off limits in our conversations.

But as we chatted we both realized that we have lived through those times already and have come out on the other side, weary at times, but surviving what life threw our way. And here we were 35 years later and now watching our kids go through many of the same struggles we did at that age. Our ways of dealing with life now compared to 35 years ago are…let’s just say…more mellowed. Maybe due to time and wisdom or maybe just due to age and energy levels, I am not sure. Either way, we have learned to pick our battles more efficiently.

Stuffed and content sitting at the booth that day, I took a good look at my friend, The Tootsie Sister, and came to realize how close we are and have stayed through the years. Through high school, weddings, kids, grandkids, our spouses’ health issues, even the inability to see each other very often, she is my old friend. The one who has walked this path of life with me through all that life has dished out good and bad. She is one of those close, old and dear friends that you can’t find in newer friendships. There is a history that travels back decades. There is no need for explanations, we both just have an understanding of each other and where we have been and where we are going. 

That day as we left the Olive Garden, we got in our cars and started to drive off. As I looked in the mirror and saw her driving away, a Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton song came on, “You Can’t Make Old Friends”. It is the last song they did together and it tells about their friendship through the years and their history together. 

In it it says, “It’s been you and me since way back when. You can’t make old friends”. And while I have several close friends and am close to those in my family, there are just some things that rang true listening to that song as we drove away that day. We have become old friends through time and life happening and continuing to come our way. And when it is all said and done, it is true…you can’t make old friends…they just grow with time. 

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