Remembering Childhood Friends

photography by Florence Ward

True friendships are priceless. To quote an old African proverb “A friend is a hand that is always holding yours, no matter how close or far apart you may be. A friend is someone who is always there and will always, always care. A  friend is a feeling of forever in the heart.”

Throughout my life there have been more than a handful of people I have been fortunate to call friends. I don’t see many of them as often as I should, and sometimes I miss making phone calls to say hello, or wish them happy birthday.  One friend just celebrated a very special birthday. While all birthdays are special, Alfredia (aka Fred) was born during Leap Year, so it is only once every four years she celebrates on the actual day she was born . . . and I forgot to call her!

Fred never misses a birthday call and is too laid back to wave a ‘How could you forget’ flag in my face, nonetheless, I still feel guilty!

Perhaps the guilt is because she always remembers my birthday, and we’ve been friends since pre-school. When she reads this post she’ll probably say, “Aw, girl, no worries, I know you were feelin me!”  Yeah, I’ll always be feeling you Fred, because childhood friends like you are one in a million.

We met in Sunday school during a time when lacy ankle socks and patent leather shoes accessorized our girly-girl outfits; which included bonnets and scratchy crinoline lined dresses!

After Sunday school, Fred and I would sit for the next hour of church service with our mothers. Scratchy dresses and hard wooden pews made it tough to sit still, but we did; smiling at each other whenever our moms weren’t looking, for fear of a slap on our leg if we got too wiggly. The minister would barely be finished with the benediction and last “amen” before we ran outside!

As a young girl, Fred had the thickest longest hair I had ever seen. I remember thinking how much pain she had to endure each morning when her mom twisted, pulled and braided all that hair into submission.

Over the years there have been many adventures and changes in our lives; we have shared giggles and exhilaration of new loves, and lots tears and tissues after painful heartbreaks.  As we entered our 20s and 30s, it was first marriages, the birth of our children and a devastating divorce. We have supported each other through serious sickness and lost of family and friends; we got through these times by sharing our grief and loving each other even more. When we get together, it doesn’t matter if months have passed between calls or visit, we are able to pick up where we left off, telling and re-telling the same funny stories.

All of my friends are strong, independent, loving people, and it’s comforting to know that if, and when tough times come, all I have to do is look over my shoulder and I’ll see faces of good friends, like Fred who have my back.

Happy belated birthday my friend.

photography by joelleim

5 responses to “Remembering Childhood Friends

  1. Nice read!

  2. What a nice story. I forgot how long you have known Fredia. We had a nice dinner. You were missed. Let’s get together sometime.

    • Thanks Kim, I’m so glad you had a chance to read it. I so appreciate all of my friends especially those who have always accepted me as I am unconditionally. Sorry I missed dinner, would love to see you soon.

  3. Life is an Exquisite Journey

    Val – this post made me think of three of my best girlfriends from high school that mean the world to me!!! We keep in touch via Facebook, telephone, texts. Anytime we connect, it’s like we are picking up on the last conversation without missing a beat. No concerns about how “How come you haven’t called?” I love them so much because they know the essence of me. Thank you for sharing this article and stirring up a few fond memories of my own.