Friends come and go with seasons of our lives.
We sometimes don't see the depth of a friendship until we've gone through highs and lows... come full circle so to speak... as life takes it twists and turns.
I am especially reminded lately of the exemplary qualities of long-time friendships. My dear sweet friend, Lennie, passed on to her heavenly home a couple of weeks ago. Her daughter in law (and my dear friend) Karen, gave me the news. Her passing hit me with intense sadness. A loss for me of one who treated me as her very own daughter. She was a mentor to me and a protector of my heart in those early formation years as a young adult. Lennie and Fred have three sons (they and their wives are also friends of mine.) Here is Lennie holding my Laurie just a few days before I moved to Texas. See the kindness in her face.
I called DLW (who was golfing out of town with his brother in law) to tell him of the news of her passing and he immediately said, "you need to go" ~ so off to New Castle I went. I was only there for approximately 19 hours, just long enough to visit with Fred (Lennie's husband of a lifetime) before the viewing ~ Fred is equally important in my friendship circle as we share memories galore from those early days. That afternoon, he and I cried together, walked down memory lane together, and celebrated all the love we each have for Lennie. It was down right healing to have this time alone with Fred.
I also got to attend the viewing. There I saw Lennie and Fred's children and dozens of old friends. These shared memories of old times and good times gave me a renewed, keen awareness of why this little county seat town of New Castle, KY... (population approximately 800) left its deep mark on me some 30 years ago.
My role was preacher's wife. I was only 24. I never wanted to be a preacher's wife, nor did I feel a calling to do so, but in retrospect, I gave my heart to that community... and, they gave me back tons more than I gave... in love and life, in modeling and memories... I encountered people of the Kentucky heartland who grew crops, raised cattle, and took care of each other like a shepherd tending it's flock.
I took a pic of historical First Baptist Church of New Castle, Kentucky... over 200 years old.
This is where I was the preacher's wife...
George W. Truett and A. T. Robertson were both pastors here way back in the day.
Across the street from the church is the
Henry County Courthouse...
JK and Bobs picked me up at the airport and took me back to the airport before daylight... what true, wonderful friends! There is never enough time to catch up on life with these two marvelous friends... and there certainly was not enough time this trip, but I did get to spend some quality time with their two incredible children, Ashley and Roby... what a treat! They were born when Lauren and Kelsey were born and now they are all grown! Again, the circle of life continues as they are now adults... such fabulous adults, too!
Jean Kaye and Bobby in their kitchen - I love these two!
Beautiful Ashley... isn't she gorgeous?!!!!
Roby and Ashley (they are both amazing young adults!)
Jean Kaye and I went over to see Frankie (another mentor and fellow musician whom I miss and love tremendously) - she used to play often when I would sing. One of my favorite memories is one of singing Amazing Grace beginning in one key and modulating each verse until I got to a high C6 on the last verse.
Frankie plays by ear... and her style... well you know... she's just got it!
She also has a green thumb... flowers are always sprouting wherever she lives! As I walked up to her house this is what I encountered... wish I'd gotten her pic, but her flowers speak volumes about her...
I also got to visit a little with Evelyn and Gene... two who practically (with the help of their daughters) spoiled my little Laurie rotten! And many, many others... like Catherine (girl trip in our future...) and Thelma (I enjoyed catching up on her boys...) There were so many others I wanted to see... too little time. I will go back soon... this place leaves me with a feeling of peaceful centeredness. It warms my heart.
I will forever miss Lennie, but hold her fast in my heart forever, too...
So now on to this past weekend ~ it has been one of great times with my Texas friends. I have had a full dose of laughter, creating new friendship memories at Dead Fish Grill, 1424, and Portofino... celebrating birthdays and sunsets.
And, now just today, one of my best friends called to tell me that her parent has suddenly become ill and has gone into ICU... and I am reminded once again that as friends, we share both the highs and the lows. We share the twists and turns together. Friendship is about sharing life... it's about caring for each other's hearts. I am praying for my friend and for her dear, sweet daddy. My heart really hurts for her.
I am thankful for my friends, for the ways in which they mark my life. So rich and meaningful.
La - Ti - Do...