I absolutely love my mom.
I hesitate as I type this, recognizing that I’m now at the age where many who I know no longer have their mothers here to share moments with. I also recognize not everyone is as fortunate to have such a relationship with their mom.
And while the lead may implicate this is a mom’s day column a bit too early, it’s actually not.
My mom has top billing here as the intro to another special story of relationships – girlfriends. As much as I love my mom, I have an equal appreciation for my girlfriends.
These past three years my life has been anything but boring not to mention run of the mill.
Excuse me as I segue here with a brief public service announcement: if at any time you find yourself faced with a health crisis of any type, find a buddy. Yes, that’s right, be it a partner, family member or friend; take someone with you. Not only is a second set of ears valuable, it’s important. It’s never a bad thing to have someone else in the room or even on a Zoom call to take in the very same information you are hearing about yourself.
So, with all that being said the past three years I’ve come to lean on my village aka tribe quite a bit. Be it my mom, my guy or my girlfriends, taking a buddy with me to medical appointments became a natural part of the drill.
Last week, as my mom and I prepared for a road trip to The City for a UCSF medical appointment, we looked forward to the “after,” which would be dinner and a sleepover on the coast. Thanks to a bout of bronchitis, plans of her travels with me were quickly changed.
Time to call in the girlfriends.
I must acknowledge I recognize I’m fortunate here too. I’m blessed with a team of gal pals that, if one or two can’t, there’s likely another (or two) who can. I’m grateful for this.
Quickly making a phone call to the Charlotte of my Carrie I asked the question. Could she miss a day of work to road trip with me and accompany me to the doctor? Her answer of yes came quickly and with that we had a plan. A trip to see the medical team followed by a coastal sleepover.
After all, why waste a perfectly good hotel stay by the ocean.
Charlotte (known to most as Michelle or “Merky”) and I always have a good time, but when we seem to have the most fun is when we encounter strangers. Both outgoing and perhaps a bit chatty, neither of us shies away from engaging with others when out and about.
Excited to share a new favorite place to grab a bite, a beverage and an amazing view of the ocean with my travel companion, we quickly settled into our booth and picked some treats from the menu.
In come our new gal pals Alison, Yvonne, Liz and Nani, later known as the New Yorkers and the Scot. As the four women settled in to the booth next to us, Charlotte quickly jumped to their aid in snapping a group photo and of course sharing unsolicited information about us two gals.
Learning I was a writer, Nani inquired if I’d write about them, which made me chuckle in the moment yet by evening’s end became a commitment.
These four ladies were a hoot and a holler. Alison, the Scot now living on the coast, had spent her morning just as we had, at USCF with her husband who was also battling cancer. The Staten Island ladies (aka New Yorkers), Nani, Liz and Yvonne were doing the California vacation thing and visiting with Alison during their travels.
In truth our overall time together amounted to moments, yet the connection, joy and fun was infectious.
The fun time foursome was bowing out before Charlotte and myself, but stopped at the booth for one final chat. As they did, we learned that three of the four of them had also been touched by cancer in some way. Yet here they were, giving us a pep talk, sharing their belief in my future as well as my strength. All while leaving with a friend who was hopeful her husband would be home in time for his birthday (and he was).
But here’s the real takeaway; by the following morning, long before finishing my first cup of coffee, the six of us had found one another on social media and reconnected with fondness and admiration for our encounter.
Oh sure, I hear you in the back, social media has its ups and downs, yet for this story there’s only ups.
That day had been long and tough on Charlotte and I. The booth we settled into offered a bit of a reprieve and yes, happiness, and then entered the foursome. Three connected cousins, four irreplaceable friends, one memorable night.
What a treat those ladies were. What a blessing happy ladies can be to one another, even amidst a storm. Girlfriends – the good ones – always manage to help us find the sunshine and celebrate the good stuff. Here’s to rainbows, butterflies and ladies who live on laughter.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 209-847-3021.