Michigan winters are long and, well… not very sunny. And when you’re a young kiddo, they are much, much longer, because we all know how TIME flies as we age.
I grew up on Hemingway Street in Redford Township, Michigan, in an old-fashioned neighborhood with the Poisson, Scheller, Atkinson, Fitzgerald, Griffin, Russell, and a whole lot of other families. We rode our bikes around the block, played in each others backyards, jumped off each other’s porches, and made snowmen together. But I can’t for the life of me remember how it was that my friend Christina and I became friends with two ladies in their 80’s down the street. They were sisters and shared a home together. Maybe we offered to shovel their snow or rake their leaves and they invited us in – who knows?! I don’t remember. But Christina and I became quite close friends with one of them – Miss Ross – and oh, how we loved going to her house! Especially during those long, cold, dark winters that seemed to last forever.
Miss Ross had those old-fashioned TV trays, and we’d sit on her couch in the living room on long winter days, and learn how to make all different kinds of crafty things while we drank orange pop and ate sandwiches. We glued marbles together to make bumble bees, and painted them, and even glued little wings on them. My bumble bee was displayed proudly in my curio cabinet until I lost it during my latest move across town two years ago.
Miss Ross told Christina and I to return to her house once we had collected ten jar lids, so we did just that. We pulled felt over them, and sewed them together on the back, then connected them all together in the shape of a Christmas tree – neat little trivets for our Moms to put hot casserole dishes on at the dinner table. We were so proud of the little Christmas gifts we had made! Miss Ross made those long winter days so much sweeter and so much more fun.
Bored one summer day while my friend Christina was recovering from a tonsillectomy, I decided to stop and visit Miss Ross by myself. I rode my sparkly yellow bike with its banana seat down the street to her home, parked in front of the porch, and rang the doorbell, but Miss Ross’ sister answered and she was crying. Miss Ross had just died. I was devastated, and got on my bike and cried all the way over to Christina’s house to tell her, and we sat on the couch with Mr. Scheller and cried, and cried, and cried. We were so sad about our friend.
I have no idea why I’m writing this story except that I still cherish those times in her living room, and want my kids to know some of the little stories from when I was growing up. I also want Christina to know how much I enjoyed our friendship when we were little girls.
Don’t limit yourself to having friends who are the same age as you, the same color as you, the same size as you, with the same hobbies as you. Hug people. Talk to people who don’t speak your language. Go places you’ve never been. Eat stuff you’ve never eaten. Make homemade gifts. Don’t forget people. Save meaningful stuff. Write down your memories. Tell people you love them. Invite people to sit at your kitchen table. Sit at theirs. Buy pretty soap. Give away pretty soap. Send cards. Call people. Remember people, even when they have nothing you need. Just call them.
And just for fun, here’s a twist to the story…
Christina and I lost contact after high school because my family moved, and I joined the Army and was gone for 12 years. She was married with a new last name, and before the internet (yep, I’m that old), it was really difficult to find people who had gotten married. So when I returned home, I wasn’t sure how to find my friend.
Fast forward to about 10 years ago, I got a message on Facebook from Christina asking if I was her friend from Hemingway Street growing up. I was so excited! We chatted a little bit, catching up on where she was, and where I was….. and long story short… we were chatting while sitting in the very same hospital building four floors apart. Once we realized we were currently only four stories away from each other in the same building, we were so excited that we both put down our phones and ran to meet in the lobby of the hospital about three minutes later. It was quite the reunion!
Reflecting on the past six decades, it’s jam packed with so many blessings like these – seriously, SO MANY BLESSINGS! God gave Christina and I such a gift in the friendship of Miss Ross, as well as with each other.
I seriously have the sweetest memories of growing up. Miss Ross made our winters a lot sunnier, and I’m grateful for our sweet little friendship with her. And I think Christina and I are due for a trip back to Redford, a walk around the block, and a stroll down Memory Lane on Hemingway Street!
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1