Friends

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Every year Bob and I take a vacation to go to the National Bowling Tournament. This year it is in Reno, Nevada. Every year we go with the hope of Bob’s team doing well. Some years are great and some…well not so good. But, no matter how they bowl, we always have a good time. Bob and I have made it a tradition to take the whole week even though he only bowls two days, and then only for a couple of hours. We have had the opportunity to go a number of places that way, and still give him the chance to bowl in the tournament.

It is a very exciting thing to come and bowl in nationals. They make a big production of it by bringing the bowlers out in a big procession, set to music, and with everyone clapping and cameras snapping pictures. Then the practice begins. After 10 minutes, the National Anthem is played and the competition begins. This year has not proved itself to be a hot year for Bob, so far, but there is hope until it is over. He came in with a 212 average, so bowling badly really hurts the team.

So far, it looks like this year will be one of those years. There has not been a lot of cheering going on…anywhere in the bowling stadium. The scores are all pretty low, and everyone is trying to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it, but that doesn’t dampen the spirit of these men. At the beginning of the final game of the team event, it has become very obvious that there is not much hope for a good showing, but even though they are discouraged, they continue to encourage each other, and have a good time. That is just how these guys are. And there is always tomorrow and the doubles and singles event. Hopefully they will have a better showing then.

When I was a kid, the summertime would bring hours of playing outdoors. All the neighborhood kids would be involved. We didn’t watch a lot of television, and video games didn’t exist. We used our imaginations, coming up with crazy games like “ditch it” in which we would all play in the yard, until a car came up the street. The first person to see it would yell “ditch it” and everyone would drop on the grass. This game was always played after dark, so the cars couldn’t “see” us when we dropped to the ground. The idea was that the cars were obviously the “bad guys” and we were the “good guys”. Of course, we had no idea what the “bad guys” had done, because we had never really thought the game through to figure that out.

We would play “hide and seek” for hours on end. When you live in a neighborhood fille with kids, there were always enough kids to make the game interesting. An unusual thing in our neighborhood, was an unusual amount of families with all girls. There must have been 4 or 5 families with all girls, and at least 3 more with mostly girls, so we had plenty of people to play house, jacks, jump rope, and other girl games. The kids simply dominated the block all summer.

Because we lived in a different time, you could play outside well after dark, and your parents didn’t have to give it a second thought. We were usually allowed to play outside until 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. There just wasn’t anything to worry about. When I think back on that time, I feel sad, in a way, because our children today can’t safely play outside late at night, because you just don’t know who is out there.

Today I went to the funeral of a long time friend of ours. It’s strange that you can know someone for a long time, and yet be quite shocked at the things you didn’t know about them. Marge was 90 years old when she went home, but she just never seemed that old. She was always full of life and very feisty. Everyone who knew her…loved her.

So the new things I learned about her today, is that she was in the Navy and this little tiny woman, who was no bigger than a minute, was trained as a mechanic in the Navy, and served as a mechanic in Hawaii. I can no more imagine her as a mechanic than I can imagine that I can sprout wings. I was shocked and amazed.

Now her love for bowling, gambling, bingo, and cards, were things just about everyone knew about Marge. In fact the bowling alley is where I first came to know Marge. She seemed always to be there. She did bowl a lot!! When she wasn’t doing the other 3 things she loved to do.

Another thing I didn’t know, and found very interesting, is that she moved to Casper, Wyoming by looking on a map when she decided she wanted to move out West. She came here by herself, made a life for herself, got married, and stayed. That is amazing. What great courage that shows. Most women would never even consider such a thing, and yet Marge not only considered it, but made it happen.

Isn’t it odd how you can know someone, and not really know them. Yes, she was an amazing lady! And many, many people were blessed to have known her. And now she lives with Jesus, and we will see her again. So good bye for now Marge, til we all meet again.

I have been blessed a number of times in my life with what could only be classified as an unlikely friendship. These would be friends you find where you would least expect, or people you would least expect to be your friends. We’ve probably all had friends like these.

Often, as we get further and further from our high school days, we are able to look back at people we would not have been friends with because we were in different circles. Now, all that doesn’t matter anymore, and you are able to see things you have in common, and with that, a friendship is able to grow.

Sometimes, some of the dearest friends are the children of friends who have now grown up. Now while I’m sure most of you could not imagine some of your friends children as friends, but I have been blessed with a very dear friend whose mother was also a very dear friend. And I established that friendship after about 25 years had lapsed since I had seen her mom. Very unlikely.

Once in a while friendships are born between people who have never met, but were drawn together for a variety of reasons. I have met friends due to an error in an email address, the sadness of loss, and mutual faith. These friendships have become very dear to me, even though all we have of each other, is the internet, some letters, and a picture, but the blessings have been so great, and I an so grateful.

And sometimes, someone you would never expect to be your friend, becomes your friend through a random act of your kindness. Acts of kindness reach so much furher than we expect or could ever know. You simply filled a need, answered a call…you were there. And from such a small thing, grew a friendship that will last a lifetime.

There is really no way to do justice to what these friendships mean to me. I’m sure by my stories some of my friends will see themselves. I just hope they will also be able to see how important they are to me and how dearly I love each and every one of them.

Brooke was the daughter of our friends Dani and Nick, and she left us 7 years ago today…far too soon. She was named Brooke Noel because she was born on Christmas Eve. She had just turned 7 years old. She was such a lively child, always filled with grins and giggles. Her laugh was infectious, as was her personality. Everyone who ever met her loved her instantly. That’s just how it was. Funny how some people have that effect on you. Seemingly without even trying they work their way into your heart and there they stay…forever.

Brooke’s grandpa, Edd, owned a bowling alley, and I remember when he was cleaning up at the end of the day, he would let her (and her sisters, brother, and cousins) ride the vacuum cleaner around the room as he vacuumed. I always thought that was the funniest thing. Most kids are, at least somewhat, afraid of the vacuum cleaner. Not those kids. I remember Brooke riding around on that vacuum, and she would have the biggest smile on her face and she couldn’t have been more than 2 or 3. It was like her grandpa gave her the greatest gift ever. Ha Ha Ha…it still makes me laugh to think of it.

Brooke took a special liking to my husband, Bob. When we would come into the bowling alley, she would be waiting to say hello to him. Then she would spend the rest of the evening practically glued to him. I had to play second fiddle. He was her special adopted uncle, and that is just the way it was. I even joked with Dani once that Bob had a girlfriend. She was ready to strangle the girl who would dare try to come between Bob and me. She asked who it was, and I told her it was “that girl over there in the purple.” She didn’t see anyone in purple…until I finally pointed it out to her that Brooke was wearing purple. Then she laughed and laughed. Brooke was the only girl who was allowed to be Bob’s girlfriend…well, other than me…maybe!

Brooke was such a little mother. Dani babysat my grandchildren, and when I would bring them over in the mornings, Josh, my youngest, instantly became her baby. She was in charge!! But that was Brooke’s way in many things. If Cameron or Felicia wanted something they didn’t think their parents would let them have, they would get Brooke to ask. She was just in charge and could usually get her way. Anyone who knew her, knew that about Brooke. She just had a way of wrapping people around her little finger…and you didn’t seem to mind.

I still find it very hard to believe that Brooke has been gone so long. And to this day, I sometimes call Mady, her little sister, Brooke, because they are quite similar. I often wonder who Brooke would have been today, as she was just a 10 months younger than my oldest grandchildren, so it is an age I can relate to. She had such a special way about her, that I can’t help feeling that we have all really missed out. Love you Brooke, and miss you very much.

Ah, the Super Bowl. The day when even non-football-fans and those who watch just the occassional game, gather together with the die hard fans, pick a team to support, even if it isn’t the one they would normally go for, stuff their faces with Thanksgiving Day sized feasts made up of mostly snacks, and scream like they know what is going on. Those who really don’t want to watch the game, come to the party anyway, for the food and socializing with the other people who really don’t want to watch the game, and laugh every time a “fight” breaks out over a play.

I used to be in the non-football-fan category, but my Dad always liked the Broncos and my husband and I love to go to Denver, so we became the die hard Bronco fans, that like to kind of know how their team is doing, and watch an occasional game, especially if they have a chance at going to the Super Bowl. But, when it comes to the Super Bowl, it doesn’t matter who is playing, we are watching. That all started one year when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl. I believe it was 1987. And we have not missed a Super Bowl since. We get on the game boards, hoping for a win, which has eluded us so far, but we are, never the less, hopeful for this year. We yell and scream at the refs, and of course when our team get a touchdown, you might not want to be too close, or plugging your ears would also be good, because we will be screaming.

Yes, the Super Bowl brings friends and football enemies together to fight it out for the championship. It is a very unique day in our year…or maybe, just the mid-Winter, un-holiday party opportunity!! And since my team isn’t playing, my daughter loves the Packers, and my grandson loves the Steelers, all I can say is…”Go Broncos!!”

Today I said goodbye to my dear friend Evelyn. She was loved by so many people, and yet maybe very few of us knew the real her. Oh we knew parts of her, and together the parts mostly make her who she was, but the inner parts, the secret parts, the insecurities, the worries and fears, were things most of us never knew. I was able to catch a glimpse of a part of my friend that I didn’t know existed. A part that made her the sweet person she was. How can someone who seemed so confident have been insecure? That took me totally be surprise. She worried that she didn’t measure up to those around her, and yet in that humbleness, she far surpassed many of those people. In her final days, when people were praying for healing, and she was ready to go home, she worried about “letting those people down” who had been praying for her healing. In her last days, she was still thinking of others, and how they would feel. No wonder she was loved so much, by so many.

Good bye for now Evelyn, my very dear friend.

Evelyn Joy Ennis
March 21, 1929 – August 2, 2010

The waiting is over. My friend, Evelyn has gone home. For us here on earth, death seems like a thief that comes in and takes away those we love, but for those in Heaven, it is a joyous day. The day that humans were made for. The Bible says, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalms 116:15. So today is a precious day to the Lord.

For Evelyn, today is the day that her existance exploded into the most amazing joy ever felt by humans. She is free from pain and earthly limitations. She is with our Lord Jesus and she has seen God’s face, a privilege saved for those good and faithful servants who have been made the righteousness of God through the death of Jesus on the cross. She is among the justified, as are those of us who have chosen Jesus, but now she knows true joy. The kind of joy that can only come from being in the presence of God.

So, why is it that we have such a hard time feeling even the smallest hint of that joy when we, who are left behind, think of our loved one. Humans fight to stay alive. Fight to keep our loved ones alive. Fight to win the battle against illness. But for what? Our earthly travels are filled with troubles. And yet, our very existance is a gift from God. I guess it really is about the circle of life. Every life has its beginning, its middle, and its end, which is really a new beginning, with no middle and no end. Eternity with God is an amazing day that never ends, in which we never tire, and darkness doesn’t exist. Is there anything better than that?

Today I was handed some shocking news. My dear friend from when my kids were little has lung cancer and is at the point of death. Her daughter is a friend on facebook, but I didn’t know she was Evelyn’s daughter until she posted that her mother was dying. It hit me like a ton of bricks.

Ours had been an unlikely friendship. We met at a really hard time in Evelyn’s life. Her husband was very ill, and she was looking at a long road ahead, caring for him, waiting on the love of her life to be slowly taken away from her. She was having a bad day, the stresses of the situation had gotten to her, and I just thought she didn’t like me. It would be weeks before someone would tell me why she was so moody. Once I understood that part, our friendship grew. She and I had bowling in common, and I substituted on her team many times. She was such a different person when she had the chance to relax and enjoy herself.

Our friendship grew and continued for many years. After she quit bowling, we lost track of each other…until today. I had thought of her many times through the years, but the time never seemed right to go look her up. Why do we wait too long sometimes? I was in hopes that there might still be time to go and talk to her one more time, but that is not to be. She is in a coma now and the opportunity was never made available to me, so I wait…for news, that I don’t want to hear.

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