Monday, October 17, 2011

Bookends


book·end   
noun
a support placed at the end  of a row of books  to hold them upright, usually used in pairs.


Twenty-four years ago I moved to Texas -- seven months pregnant and the mother of a two year old. Pregnant, I wasn't exactly an ideal job candidate. Home with the first child and then a new baby was unfamiliar territory for me, the working girl. Each day I listened to the lady across the street drive away to work and was extremely jealous. I began another day of uncertainty, trapped in a house in a new town with two babies and no friends.

My mom and dad arrived in town shortly after the birth of the second child to help me for a couple of weeks. My husband, very serious about his career, worked long days and I appreciated the help my folks gave me.

However, mothers can be mothers. One afternoon she walked with my two year old to the neighborhood park. At home, the baby napped and I took one, too. Next thing I awoke to was my mother standing beside me.

"Come outside," she said. "I want you to meet someone."

My heart collapsed. I felt like I was five again. I recalled this scene from my childhood to the detail. My mother had found a friend for me. For me, the shy, little girl who couldn't find her own friends. My mother waltzing on air to introduce me to my new friend -- and me, wanting to hide in the bathroom.

I trudged out to the driveway where a young woman my age stood beside a minivan. "This is Rebekah," my mom said. "She gave us a ride home from the park."

I stood in the yard, shuffling my feet back and forth, blushing I'm certain, saying my hellos. My mother's new friend had two children -- a beautiful little blonde girl about two with a mad look on her face and a boy of three, who whipped out the pistols in his gun belt and shot me.

Suffice to say, 24 years later, that little boy with the guns is now getting a Masters in Creative Writing at a London university and "Mad Maddy" is madly in love in Vancouver. Rebekah and I are still friends and from that union a grand group formed -- the Bunco Bitches.

I have my mom to thank for that.

Rebekah and I met the rest of our motley crew while pushing our kids in the swings at the park. We weren't always bitches, but we are now. We don't necessarily remember anyone's birthday with any consistency. We all have different professions, friends, and activities that keep us apart except for once a month on the second Tuesday when we gather to eat and drink and yack. We haven't played bunco in over 12 years. But we are who we are and when we get together, there is no pretense. We put up with each other just because.

Being together for so long, it is kind of like home. We take each other in no matter what. Very often, it is the safest place I know to go.

In September, I hosted Bunco Bitch LakeFest. I knew at that time my mom was having great difficulty and that her life would change very soon. I didn't know she was to die, but I knew we were headed on a new journey. I'm uncertain exactly what my mother's journey may now be, but I know mine is rather emotionally-wracked at the moment. Most fortunate for me LakeFest served as the left bookend to the beginning of the past month and Bunco Bitch BeachFest bookended the right.

This weekend, Rebekah hosted the BeachFest at the Gulf Coast. I must say, Friday afternoon after our arrival, I sat up on the Bird's Nest deck of her beach house and with the sea before me and a slew of ships and sailboats coming in and out of the harbor, I took the first breath I'd taken in quite a few weeks. Glass of spirits in my hand, sunshine overhead, a clear view before me, I couldn't think of any place more comforting at that moment.

So, must share. Lake first, then the beach.
Remember the Recreation Station? It had blown down the lake so this crew swam down and retrieved it. Notice the supervisor on the right.

Not quite as comfortable as we'd hoped.

Naps allowed.
Reading garbage
Eat, Float, Drink
Graceful Rope Swing Entrance


LIFE INTERVENES


View from the Bird's Nest - the path to the Gulf of Mexico
Bitches at Work
 
Chair Yoga

See us way out there?
Show Off








Now, onto the next bookshelf.



37 comments:

  1. This was wistful and tender. You've talked so much about the Bunco Bitches and now I have more of an idea how you all came together. But it made my heart come apart to read about your mother finding a friend for you all those years later. It's a beautiful piece, Julie. You are lucky - I envy you in nicest possible way, And I'm sorry, again, for the fact that she's gone.

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  2. What a grand way to share friendships.

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  3. What a great group of women and friends ... as much as being bookends to certain events in your life, they appear to be anchors and touchstones as well. I envy you. As for your mom finding friends for you, isn't that a mom's job, to give that sometimes not so subtle push to exit our comfort zone? Good for her in pushing you in that direction!

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  4. Perfect. Perfect remembrance of your mother, perfect comfort of well-worn friendships, perfect to take a breath again. It is unbelievable at first that we could ever possibly assimilate some experiences, some losses . . . and then we find we can once again breathe without glass shattering in our hearts.
    I am so glad and relieved for you.

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  5. Thank god for your mama, and for the bitches! We never really grow up for our mothers, do we? They will always put their mommy hats back on the minute they think we need help. I know I do it for my girls too. I think it's a law.

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  6. I love hearing about those great women. And what a great story about your mom!

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  7. Naps must always be allowed... And a little showing off :).

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  8. Where would we be without our friends? I'm so glad you have them to be your bookends, support system and chair yoga instructors.
    Whatever path she's on, your mom is smiling...

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  9. I envy your long time friends and the fun, while simultaneously being very happy for you of course.

    I did not know about your mom and am so sorry. I think I need to read some missed posts.

    xoxo

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  10. Everyone has left such beautiful comments, Julie that I find myself unable to come up with anything as well articulated or different. Suffice to say, I loved this touching, wonnderful tale. Your memories of your wonderful, caring Mother and your Bunco Bitches friends are priceless treasures. Sending you hugs xoxo

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  11. Moms can be embarrassingly wonderful and annoyingly insightful :)

    I'm glad you had a chance to breathe.

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  12. You have come upon some great bookends in your life!!
    What fun!!
    And moms are cool like that!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  13. This was poignant and celebratory. Sadness and new journeys. You touched a chord.

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  14. Was the show off a show off back then also? It's no accident that you still have this circle of friends. You had common bonds to begin with but each of you must have worked at nurturing the friendship and each other over time. You are obviously good friendship material:)

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  15. Ahhhhh, such a sweet story...so glad the bitches are there for you...and what a mom! Things do come full circle, don't they?

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  16. Looks like a great time and the pics are fab! So glad that you have such good friends to help you through this difficult time.

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  17. Nothing like a Bitch getaway to lighten heavy hearts. So glad you were able to laugh with your girl friends. Some things we must never ignore.

    And lovely story about your mom--helps to write about her, too. Be well. :)

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  18. Nice story ... and as I tell our kids, you should pay attention to your Mom because occasionally, every once in a while, she HAS A GOOD SUGGESTION!

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  19. This is a wonderful post. It's wonderful that your group has stayed together and offers such a lot of support to one another. What a gift from your mom to you, both initially and now, when you are missing her.

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  20. What a great way for your partners in crime to have started, Julie. From now on, I will think of the Bunco Bitches as Bernie's Bunco Bitches. I knew there was a reason that she reminded me of my own mother. Mine could actually take credit for my husband first noticing me! It's been 4 years and I miss my mother...I know how you're feeling and how friends help. Take care.

    Does that cake represent the float...it's neat!

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  21. I love that your friendship came when you needed it and lasted forever! What an awesome gift.

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  22. I think this should be a compulsory blog each time you all meet up - it showed us such a lovely group of genuine people enjoying themselves.

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  23. and the circle is unbroken...so glad you are finding a little joy in the time of sorrow...gives me hope that I will be ok...

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  24. Friends are great at taking us out of ourselves and cheering us up when we need it. It looks like a good time was had by all.

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  25. I hope you were able to bottle some of that to bring back home; to be able to take a sip of joy when you need it.

    Also, I hope you will continue to include Mama Bernie in some of your future posts. I know you will. :)

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  26. And to think that Bernie led you to your life with the bitches. Mother can be mothers but sometimes mothers can (usually unknowingly) be helpful.
    Glad you're doing well.

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  27. Tears in my eyes and it's only 8AM... such a beautiful post!

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  28. I hope that local law enforcement is notified in advance when your group has future get-togethers.

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  29. Great bookends! There can be no better people to hold us up than the bitches who share our lives and our pain.

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  30. How cool! Bunco bitches on the beaches...

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  31. What a lovely post, Julia. I have your mother, to a certain extent, and it's good to be reminded to appreciate her tendency to drag me towards new friends, at all stages of my life. Even better is the part of this story that's about the kind of lasting friendship that is a haven in stormy times.

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  32. Awesome story. Awesome.

    Thank you for sharing this tale of friendship and lasting bonds--especially the kind that lets you be exactly who you are meant to be.

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  33. You are so lucky to have each other. It is rare for friendships to have such strength and longevity.

    Beautiful post, too :)

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  34. How beautiful. I am so sorry about your Mom, but I am glad to see that you have good memories and are making more.
    Blessings,
    Kathy

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  35. Bittersweet. Poignant. And so very lovely. I'm really glad you have these friendships to bookend your pain right now, and probably any pain you can expect in the future. I love that your mom was the original catalyst, and think she was watching the group as you offered comfort and love and fun to each other.

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  36. What a wonderful time was had by all, eh? It looks fabulous!

    (I think I need more friends. :)

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  37. Missing your mum tonight Julie and thinking of you. So pleased to see you in this post with your friends who along with your family will surround you with a soft place to fall as you grive your mum. You know she wouldn't want you to be unhappy, she would love knowing you are at the lake and I know she loves you being with your friends. Sending big hugs, xo

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