Gendusa: Retying the Ribbons

Published 10:51 am Thursday, January 19, 2017


I have often thought of friends as ribbons that run through our lives. Bright colored trimmings that wrap around their gifts of joy, love, sanctuary and understanding.

Those ribbons form a quilt to warm our soul when the storms come and brighten our hearts when all else seems dark.

What would we do without them?

When I was 6, I lived on a farm outside of Nashville, Tenn. My father rented a house on this property for two years while he helped his brother launch a new business.

Mr. Fowler, the owner of this vast farmland, was a person I will never forget. His large house was on a hill, surrounded by white fences, a swimming pool, guest house, red barns and Tennessee walking horses. Most that knew him knew of his wonderful heart because he shared all he had.

The property superintendent was Mr. King. He and his family took care of the farm because this fairytale place was just a weekend retreat for the Fowler family.

Mr. King’s daughter was Edna, age 7. Mr. Fowler’s daughter was Mary, age 5.

Edna and Mary fought all the time. I became the peacemaker because I adored them both.

I learned a lot about friendship in those two years. I learned never to bully, never to let money be a factor in choosing friends, and that you can love a lot of different folks even if you don’t always agree with what they do.

One day, Mr. Fowler sent his butler down the hill to pick me up. When I got to the big house, Mr. Fowler greeted me and said he had a surprise for me.

Mary was not there, but her mother was. She came out of the kitchen holding a box.

When I opened it, there lying in the folds of tissue paper, were a pair of black patent Mary Jane shoes I had forever admired in the window of Red Rooster Shoes in Nashville.

I screeched, jumped up and down, and went on for a minute like chimp in a zoo.

Finally, I calmed down, realizing it wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, and then exclaimed, “How did you know about these shoes?”

“Lynn, I called your Mom and asked her what you would really like to have as a gift. Once she told me, I bought these for you.”

“Mr. Fowler, why did you buy them? It is not my birthday?” I retorted.

“I wanted to reward you for your understanding of true friendship.”

I didn’t comprehend what he meant until many years later.

William Sydney Porter, better known as the writer O. Henry, once said,

“No friendship is an accident.”

I couldn’t agree more. I believe God gives us our friends as part of a master plan to shape, guide, and help us move through the journey of life.

There are those that we meet when we are young that remain a constant presence in our lives. They are rare and few. Those ribbons of friendship are tied so tight, you cannot imagine life without their presence.

I met someone in my teen years that became a good friend. We were an unlikely pair. He was a guy for one thing, so that made it different. Even though I had wonderful girlfriends, this friendship was somehow unique.

We married others, moved, lived totally separate lives, yet we always found the time to catch up.

The “unlikely pair” have known each other well over 50 years. We see each other rarely, but then we are rare. He has always been there for me, and I for him. He was just simply, “God chosen.” There is something profound when you know, with absolute certainty, that nothing can untie this type of ribbon.

There are some ribbons that slip away, but that didn’t make them any less special. They are never forgotten, never unappreciated as important to our lives.

As we age, most of us look back to those that made living our lives rich and colorful, and we often want to retie the ribbons.

When our high school class of 1965 met for our 50th reunion, there seemed to be a greater need among us to reconnect more than at past reunions.

Our class was always close, but this time I just wanted to grab all those high school seniors and take them home!

Over the past few years, this same group reaches out more on social media to stay connected. When one in our class stumbles or needs prayer, the word gets out immediately and we fall to our collective knees.

We all share part of a life journey and memories. We know we had an impact on each other’s lives in some way.

We are retying the ribbons.

When we reconnect to those that have slipped away from our present lives, we, most of the time, get sprinkled with a bit of magic dust.

After just a moment or two, the years and distances fade away and we just pick up where we left off. We don’t even notice age. We just see that bright colored spirit meeting up, once again, with our hearts.

I can’t imagine where I would be without the love, forgiveness, laughter, strength, sharing, encouragement, criticism, and prayers from my friends today and those of long ago.

To this day, I can still see my hand holding Edna’s to my left, and Mary’s to my right. We are walking the path up to the big house in the bright summer sun, treasuring each other.

The gift of a friend is priceless and the memory of a friend is ageless. I thank God for those that have shared a path with me. You are the ribbons that give my life color and immense joy.

What would I do without you?