When a frenemy is disguised as a friend

I’ve written quite a bit about my husband, mom and my sister being my best friends. And it’s true. I’ve never really had a “lifelong bestie” that so many people talk about. I was in my twenties when I thought I had finally found my BFF. Boy, was I wrong about that. But, in order to tell you that painful betrayal, I need to explain why making and keeping friends wasn’t easy for me as a kid. Buckle up, this is a long one. It will probably be a 3 or 4 parter.

Growing up the child of a career Marine meant moving. A lot. And moving meant new friends. I never had any problems making friends. I was excessively chatty as a kid, so I’d just barge right in full steam ahead. I know now that my talkativeness was really just anxiety. I had to fill in the silence. I couldn’t just be. So, my problem wasn’t making friends, it was keeping them. Moving away from childhood friends nowadays doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in touch. Thanks to the email, cell phones and social media, you can keep up with every person you’ve ever met and their friends too. But, it wasn’t that easy in the olden days. Well, I’m not THAT old. Just a little middle aged.

Anyway, the point is, I was not good at staying in touch. I’d have a best friend, or a group of best friends and we would swear that we would call and write each other. Then, I’d get to the new school, make new friends, have new activities and before I knew it, it’d been a month since I had talked to my old best friends. Remember, long distant phone calls used to cost money and as much as I love to write, my good intentions of writing letters just never actually happened. So I went through childhood making, and then saying goodbye, to my best friends. I’m not complaining. I loved being a military brat. My parents made sure that we got to see and do things that the majority of kids never did. But, I’ll admit to a twinge of jealousy when my husband talks about friends that he’s had since preschool. That’s such a foreign idea to me.

We moved to Texas in 1981 when my dad retired. It was a whole different world. We moved to a tiny rural town, where, to steal a line from a Nora Roberts book, the people knew each other from birth to earth. Seriously. New students were a novelty. It was 100 percent different from going to school on base. It was hard. I was going into 10th grade. My sister was a senior….imagine that! I made some friends, but not really “lifelong” friends. I never felt like I fit in. I did meet my first husband in that high school though. We got married at 17. No, I wasn’t pregnant. I was in a hurry to grow up, move away and become an adult. Part of me wishes I could slap that young Susie. But, I actually wouldn’t change a thing. Because if I didn’t travel the exact road that I did, I wouldn’t have my kids, grands or my husband now.

Anyway, back to friendship. I made quite a few “couple friends” when I was married to Ronnie. Most, or really all, were other young parents. We got married in August of 83. I had Johnnie in February of 85. Jennie came along in December of 87. We were a cozy little family of 4. Susie and Ronnie and Jennie and Johnnie. Our friends were parents of our kids’ friends. Really, everyone we hung out with was involved in a peewee football association. Remember, I live in Texas where football is treated like a religion, even for 1st graders! Ronnie coached, Johnnie played, Jennie was a cheerleader and I was on the board of directors. Our weeknights revolved around practices, quick dinners and homework. Our weekends were all about games, working concessions or gates and the Saturday night parties. Those parties involved the kids playing outside and the parents relaxing and rehashing the games. There was also a LOT of alcohol consumed.

Remember that Ronnie and I got married at 17? We grew up together. And we didn’t really like each other all that much. We divorced in 1998. And, anytime a couple divorces, custody of certain friendships inevitably goes to one spouse or the other. Very seldom both.

To be continued…….

Father Time, you’re a bitch

My mom came over yesterday. We had planned to go shopping and get our hair cut. But you know what they say about best laid plans…. I woke up with a hitch in my lower back Tuesday. It just got worse as the day progressed. Today it really hurts. Also, our air conditioning bit the big one a little before midnight. I’m trying to be grateful that it only got to 90 degrees today. I’m not doing a very good job being grateful.

So, I canceled our shopping day and rescheduled my hair appointment. Mom stopped by before her appointment to drop some things off. Only, she got the appointment time wrong, so she missed it altogether. I could tell that she was frustrated with herself. I seem to forget everything nowadays, so I know how she feels. It got me thinking about time.

Sometimes I play this game in my head about the past. I’ll think of a memory and try to remember when it happened. I usually fail at that, unless one of the kids or grands is in the memory. Then I can usually put a year to the memory. It’s so infuriating. I used to remember EVERYTHING. Age, anxiety, pain, medication…. I guess that’s the perfect cocktail to erase a large portion of both minor and major details.

Today, after my mom left, I thought of all the times that she showed up just when I needed her. I know that I talk about my fear of driving. I very seldom do it anymore. But, my mom is absolutely fearless when it comes to being behind the wheel. She always has been. She has no qualms about going on a solo road trip. I think it comes from being a Marine’s wife. She doesn’t get upset if she gets lost in an area completely foreign to her. She just drives until she’s back in familiar territory. I do believe that she’s probably driven on just about every highway in the continental U.S.

I thought of the times she would come to me and the kids when things got bad with my first husband. There were no cell phones then, yet I always remember how I could call on her landline and she always came. Or, how she would pick me up and take me shopping for groceries. We’ve walked down grocery store aisles way too many times to count. Remember her coming to the kids’ games. She would sit in the bleachers just watching, or she’d work the concessions, entry gate, just wherever she was needed at the time.

Hospital visits after surgery? She was usually there when I woke up. If she wasn’t, she’d be there soon after. Recovery time at home after surgeries? She (and often Daddy too) would come over with fountain drinks, sweets, adult coloring books, magazines, whatever. The point is, she’d be there.

All of this rambling is to say that seeing her upset about forgetting her appointment time was jarring. I see my kids getting older. I realize how old I am when I see my oldest GRANDDAUGHTER driving😱. But, I never think that my mom is getting older. I guess I just tend to think that she’s always going to be there. But, she’s going to be 76 this year. She’s the youngest 75 year old person that I’ve ever known. Yet the reality is she’s not immortal. She is getting older. I don’t like that thought. I want to stomp my feet, shake my fists in the air and rail at the heavens. I want to insist that she stay young and healthy forever. But, I know that’s impossible.

I don’t like these thoughts. Not one bit. I don’t ever want to imagine a life without her. I’m pouting. Maybe it’s because I’m really hot and I really hurt. But, honestly? I think it’s because my heart doesn’t want to think of a world with no Pat/Mom/Mimi in it.