God has a way of gifting us with special treasures throughout the course of life. Certainly by the time a person reaches the half-way mark, looking back and admiring these treasures becomes a little more frequent and better appreciated. Recently, I reflected on my early school years. Remembering years past, many of life’s treasures came to mind, particularly, the blessing of growing up with my best friend, Jennifer.
Upon entering Mrs. Pattison’s first grade class at Katy Elementary, where I first met Jennifer, my small world suddenly began to expand. My eyes opened to the cycle of a chicken and the hatching of baby chicks. Mrs. Pattison brought her old hen from home and placed the hen and her nest of eggs in the very center of our desk circle. We were allowed to observe the hen on her nest as one by one, the eggs hatched. It was during that time that Mrs. Pattison found it fitting to offer an indoor picnic complete with fried chicken and buttered bread. We learned the lesson of the chicken: from egg, to frying pan, to dinner plate. Story time was a treat as she sat in her adult size rocker, in the reading circle, while the class leader for the day was allowed to take the place of honor next to her in a small, child size rocker. She taught us to use our blunt scissors to cut around the lines. We also learned that paste was for sticking, not licking. As first graders, being the keepers of paste and scissors in our cigar boxes placed in our desks was a sure sign that we were well on our way to successful futures. All of these life lessons were of utmost importance but will never compare to the lessons of friendship gained during that first grade year with Jennifer, and in the many years that followed.
I cannot say today at what point I realized I had a best friend but it was very early on in the year of 1968 that Jennifer and I became inseparable. She was outgoing and I was extremely shy. Jennifer, being the oldest of four girls, was used to watching out for others and taking charge. She was bold and confident. I found much security in her personality. She was the leader and I, the follower. If school was the game for the day, she was the teacher and without question, I was the obedient student. Jennifer challenged me to step outside my comfort zone to reach a step beyond the farthest that I had ever been at any given time. After all, Jennifer was the inventor of adventure. There was never a dull moment as we spent hour after precious hour discovering the world, dreaming, pretending, and reaching into the future. Upon Jennifer’s insistence, we became “blood sisters” by pricking our index fingers and rubbing them together “like the Indians”. This was a double top-secret act only witnessed by one of her younger sisters. This ceremony was to seal our bond into eternity. She spent tremendous energy convincing me that pricking my finger was not going to hurt. As the leader, convincing me to follow was always her duty and so, we completed the pact.
Our friendship strengthened over the years as we experienced life and grew into the women that God intended us to be. We drifted away from each other in high school as school activities pulled us in different directions. Upon graduating from high school, we took with us the memories that brought us to that point in time and began raising our own families. As the years ticked away, I reminisced often about our special childhood. One particular memory that is etched in my mind today was the time that she instructed me to lick the mineral syrup wheel in the cow pasture followed by rinsing my mouth with muddy pond water. Today, I cannot remember why, but I am quite sure that she had good reason for me to perform this feat. It probably had something to do with that same Indian tribe.
I believe that God ordained our friendship and enjoyed watching us together as children so much that He willed us into each other’s paths again. Several years ago, we found ourselves living as neighbors a few doors down from one another. Though older and wiser after thirty years, our roles when together have not changed and we picked up right where we left off. Jennifer is still the leader and I am still the follower. We are once again enjoying each other’s company through words spoken and unspoken. We have stepped into the changing waters of mothering and grand mothering and are trying to figure out our places in this new chapter of life. Reconnecting with my blood sister, confidant, adventurous friend has reminded me that even with the passing of time, and the ups and downs of life, our blood sister bond is in fact, like the Indians, sealed for eternity and our friendship will forever remain stuck like paste.