Gaggle of Friends

My mom had a circle of friends she called the Steel Magnolias. I envied them. Her generation led such a different life than mine. I have friends too, but I do not surround myself with a gaggle like she did. It’s a generational flaw. My generation of women has led the task of “having it all”. We had careers and husbands to take care of and children to raise. We didn’t have time for afternoon coffee or shopping sprees. We didn’t have time to chat on the phone. We missed out.

We are the transition generation. We were expected to live the lives of our mothers while having the careers of our fathers. We cooked, we cleaned, we counseled, we dragged our families to church, we were accountants and chauffeurs, all while leading demanding full-time careers. We had no time to nurture our friendships. We were spent.

Now, our children are grown. They have moved on. Life is a little bit simpler, a little slower. Do we now become our own group of Steel Magnolias? No. We are busy once again trying to find our place in the world, for our old place has moved on.

I taught school for fifteen years. I resigned seven years ago because my mother needed me. She had brain cancer, and though I helped her after school and on weekends, it became increasingly clear that she’d needed more, so I left my career of teaching teenagers, and moved onto a position of caregiver.

My mom’s gaggle of girlfriends quickly became mine. For the first time since I was in school, I was surrounded by giggly females who enjoyed each other’s company. We had bible studies, cake and coffee, went on outings. I was there to help my mom, but these ladies became my ladies, and I loved it. I became their daughter too. What love—what a support system. I miss them.

The year my mom was diagnosed with her brain tumor, she was put through surgery and radiation and still only given months to live. Well, she outsmarted those doctors! She lived nearly five more years. During those years, life was difficult, but we found joy in the little things. My mom was a tough woman, and she was tough on me, but she had a way of finding enjoyment in her last years, whether it was watching an old movie, or just eating a bowl of ice cream, she laughed and joked, and her gaggle of friends never left her.

But before my mom passed, the women of her generation started to falter. One died in a car accident. One died of cancer quickly after being diagnosed. One’s husband died, then another. One moved to live closer to her children. My mom was losing her friends as she was losing her life. It all seemed so fast to me. They were all healthy and vibrant and helping me care for her. Then they were gone, one by one. Along with them, my support system, my gaggle of friends, my extra moms. My husband and I moved some time after my mom died, then stupid old covid hit like a ton of bricks keeping us all apart, separating us even further. I miss the ladies, the lunches, the cake and the coffee—the support system. I wonder if they know how much they meant to me, or what a gift they were.

One of these ladies called me the other night. She had bad news. A friend of my parents, a man I knew since childhood, the man who married my husband and me, the man who dedicated my baby to God, whom I sat beside at high school football games. The man who counseled me as a teenager, a glowing bride, a frustrated wife, and a grieving daughter. The man who sat next to my mother’s death bed and assured her of her salvation, who spoke at her funeral, who hugged me and told me he loved me every time I saw him, a man who was part of my dwindling support system—has gone to be with the Lord. Suddenly, by surprise, with no warning.

My heart is broken once again. It breaks for his wife, who is one of those special ladies everybody loves, for his children, for his grandchildren. It also selfishly breaks for me. I’m sad that he is gone. Not because he was part of my everyday life. He wasn’t, other than on Facebook, but because I have once again lost part of my support system. I’m happy for him. He gets to live in Heaven. But us? We are left here without him, such a positive force in our lives. I am not the only one who depended on him. I wonder if he knew how much I did.

My mom’s generation is passing quickly. They are not living to be a hundred. We are losing them decades earlier. It’s scary because my generation now has to step up. We no longer have a support system. We have to make a new one, and we have to be one. I guess that’s the moral of this story. I wish it were more positive, like, God is in control and all that, and I know that He is, but this time, my heart just hurts, and it’s tired of hurting. I’m tired of losing people I love. So, make sure your loved ones know how much they mean to you, and become part of someone’s support system.

One more thing, I was reminded this morning that “Jesus is a friend who walks in when it feels like your world has walked out.” Amen to that! Prayers to you all.

Published by walkrlane

Christian blogger and author

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