These are my dogs Dino on the top and Sammie down below. They sleep in the family room in the late afternoon, waiting for my husband to come home from work. Dino and Sammie are different dogs, different breeds, from different homes, but they live with us now and they've become the best of friends, forever friends. It happens to people too.
I grew up in a little town on Lake Superior. Ashland was my home for the first 18 years of my life, until I left for college. I lived in the same house, across the street from my grandparents and close to other kids, my friends.
Across the alley was Jody and her family, on the other side of the house across the street was Terry and her family, down on the corner was Angie and her family. And of course, in the bunk right below mine in my pink bedroom was my best friend, Clare my little sister.
So that’s how it was. We lived in the same place, we knew the kids, we were friends, we played every day as we ran and jumped and climbed out of childhood. There were games and swimming and bikes and snow and scraped knees and hurt feelings and making up and hugs.
We went to school of course and that’s where we met more kids and made more friends. The kids who didn’t live right around your house. Some were a few blocks from school, some were farther away, it didn’t matter, we were friends. I can never remember a time thinking about having or not having friends, you just did.
As the years went by few people came and went from our lives. Most people that lived in Ashland stayed there. I don’t know why, maybe because they thought somewhere else would be colder and worse or maybe because their friends were all there, I don’t know I was a kid.
I related to you how Amy Turner came into my life when I was in the sixth grade, what I neglected to tell is that she left just a few years later. It was funny how often we thought of her over the years and how many times we asked people if they knew where she was and if she was OK. We asked, but no one had any answers.
Before you know it, you find your way out of childhood and discover what we all discover, when you are an adult you are just a kid in older skin. I don’t feel differently on the inside. I still love my family and friends just as I did back then. I am still afraid of scary movies, I don’t like mean people and I love animals, all of them.
And then last year, by chance my husband and I stopped by and visited Angie on our way back home from our annual trip to St. Paul. We hadn’t stopped and seen each other in years and we hugged and talked and reconnected. It felt like we had never been apart and during our visit I said “ I wonder what happened to Amy Turner”. We both shrugged our shoulders and wondered, but neither of us knew anyone who had talked to her. I remember e-mailing a couple of others from our class and asking if anyone knew where Amy was, but no one did.
And about a week after our visit with Angie, I got the most amazing message on our answering machine. It was Angie, she was calling me from Amy’s home. It turns out, they lived in the same town and actually knew each other, but didn’t know who they were because their last names were changed when they each married.
And so last Wednesday, after much e-mailing and a lot of phone tag, we went to St. Paul for the Back to the Fifties Car Show as we have for the past 11 years. And on Friday, just after lunch, I saw my friends Amy and Angie as we rushed toward each other at the car show at the State Fair Grounds. I hugged Angie first and then after 35 years, yes 35 years, I hugged Amy Turner and looked at my friend with her beautiful smile.
The last time I saw Amy, I had long dark hair almost to my waist and braces. Amy had long blonde hair, and blue jeans with flared bellbottoms so big, I was jealous. Those jeans were perfect. After all these years, here she was and I was finally going to get the answer to my question, whatever happened to Amy Turner?
There she was, the girl I asked about so many times, the friend I looked for, she was right there hugging me back and all the years melted away. We all sat together in lawn chairs and for over four hours we talked and laughed and shared the good and bad that has come and gone from our lives. We talked about things we did, people we knew and things we were never prepared to talk about or hear about when we were kids. We shared our thoughts, our triumphs, our failures, our philosophies and we shared the thing that has always been between us, friendship.
Amy told me that she was surprised anyone remembered her and that she prayed that she would have a positive influence in people’s lives. Amy I can tell you that as far as I’m concerned, your prayer was answered before you even made it. You were and are my friend, just as Angie is, just as Tracey is and honey there is no way to get rid of me.
I call you guys “forever friends” because that’s what you are. There’s no doubt about it. Forever is forever and friends are friends, forever.
Thanks for listening.