Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting hit by a freight train

That's what a birthday is nowadays. At least for people of my age.

Most of my dearest friends in the world are gone. They were all older than I when we grew our friendships, but I never anticipated they would one day just not be there... how bleak life could be without them. One by one, they moved across to the Other Side where I know they will be waiting for me when it's my turn. But now, as I look at the calendar for the month of May, 2010, I see a lot of birthdays for friends who are blessedly still with me. I send greetings and wish them health and happiness. But the older I get, the more I realize I need to do more than that. I need to tell them how much they have enriched my life and given me strength when it's been needed.

Friends like Carol Panella, a kindred spirit if ever there was one. Sometimes, I think the Creators made two identical minds, didn't know what to do with them so they gave one to me and then, a year later, the other to Carol. We laugh at the same things, cry at the drop of a hat over who-knows-what, get goopy sentimental about our kids and love to swap grandchildren stories. I don't "collect" anything like Carol collects bunnies (not the live ones, of course)and Santas and steins and Christmas items. Carol doesn't enjoy the casino and hasn't my penchant for spending hours doing nothing. Carol is a phenomenal cook and a world-class hostess. I serve up the same dishes again and again, minus the panache, and am lucky if I have matching candles on the table, but we both love to eat and appreciate each other's efforts. We love old movies, music and good writing. She is articulate and expressive with a killer sense of humor. We make each other laugh.

We met at work in the Evesham School District and are both passionate about public education. We are both fierce Progressives and could discuss politics for hours without pausing for a breath. We like the same kinds of television shows and are fans of NPR, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz. I love "24," but I'm not sure about Carol and I know we share a fascination for "Flashforward." I like a good mystery like "The Mentalist" and appreciate the humor of "Castle." Don't know about Carol because we rarely get to discussions about television preferences when we're cramming our conversations into two-hour lunches (okay, three). After all, solving the problems of the world takes time.

One of the my favorite things about Carol is that we can really talk to each other. Not prattle, gossip or chatter. Talk. Time always goes too fast when we are together and there doesn't seem to be enough excuses to plan another lunch.

Carol has a birthday on Saturday, May 22. That's tomorrow. She's been under the weather a bit and so have I, so I haven't gone shopping and there's no birthday card or gift (for now). But she will be on my mind all day as I flit from one task to another and I'll be certain to call with a rousing version of a song that's supposed to sound like "Happy Birthday to You!" She, being the wonderful friend she is, will not suggest I stop singing.



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