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Thursday, June 25, 2009

YOU NEVER KNOW

I have learned that one never knows what will happen when the college experience begins anew in a life...What friends will be made, what will be my area of study, will I meet the love of my life????

When I graduated from high school in Atlanta, GA, in May 1976, I chose Tennessee Tech University because I heard it was a good school and I loved the rolling hills of Tennessee. You see, most of my family, including my Dad, attended a small school in East Tennessee called Carson Newman College. Being the 5th of six children, I took many trips there to deposit my older sibs to their new residence halls in TN. I am sure I spent hours in the back seat of a wood-paneled station wagon, gazing from the car window, at the rolling hills. Thus, the start of my love affair with the bucolic rolling hills of Tennessee, and later, a decision to attend a school there in 1976.

I attended TTU for two years before transferring to University of Georgia where I did end up meeting the love of my life on a blind date...but that is another story for another day!

The experience of sorority rush, was one I was told, I did not want to miss. Even if I did not choose to pledge a particular sorority, I would have the opportunity to meet a lot of different girls as I went through the week of rush.
So, I found myself in the midst of rush in no time flat...The sisters of Alpha Delta Pi chose me and I felt most comfortable with them, so it was a fit for both of us.
This is where I met eight friends that know me through and through, & love me still!
Aside from the fact that we all went to college together, our solid tradition started after Kay's wedding in December 1978. The rest of us (not Kay because she was on her honeymoon!!!) gathered at Kelly's childhood home, in Tullahoma, TN, for a sleepover and gift exchange. We had such a grand time, we said..."We must do this again!" and we did...for the next 30 + years, never missing a year...INCREDIBLE, countless memories along the way!!!
We have alternated meeting in different homes through the years. Delo consistently brings the candy cane cookies, Kelly, the sticky buns, Deb, the homemade pound cake, Kay, the chex mix with M & Ms, Jo Ann, the chicken salad and pimento cheese, Becky, the paper goods and sliced bread, 'cause she doesn't love to cook, and Leslie, the chips, dips and other delightful snacks for the same reason! I always bring the rich creme de menthe brownies and Susan brings the white chocolate peppermint candy and the cucumber spread. What a spread and a time of fellowship we have shared through the years !

A few years ago, we, the nine of us, took a trip to New York City to commemorate our 30th reunion!

All together, we have given birth to 16 incredible children.

Our group encompasses the careers of business, finance, nursing and education.

Most importantly, we all share a common faith and we share prayer concerns from year to year...We offer prayer support to one another through each year...And yes, thanks to Becky and Debby, the only actual sisters in our group, we have matching flannel gowns, videos and photo scrapbooks to share with our families!

In reading this, perhaps you might be inclined to share this with some young woman that is in your life...help her to see that she, too, can have a similar invaluable friend experience while she is in college.

You never know...

MY FRIEND, KELLY

I first met KELLY in the fall of 1976. Even though we are nearly the same age, she had somehow managed to be one year ahead of me in school, the smart girl that she is! I was beginning my freshman year in college. I was going through sorority rush without a clue about what I was doing. You see, my family had no sisterhood "legacies" to speak of. It was here at this medium-sized university, TTU, in Cookeville, Tennessee that I first met Kelly. Thankfully, Kelly and the rest of her ADPi sisters decided that I was a good fit for their group, and so began a story of friendship, of nine friends, in total, that has lasted a lifetime.

My dear friend, Kelly and I power-walked 6 miles in the North Georgia woods last Saturday.
We both are now 50 something woman who love to stay fit and we never lack for subjects to cover when we are together. We have celebrated marriages together, as we were in each other's weddings in 1982. Our wedding took place on Kelly's 24th birthday! We have attended baby showers for one another. We have watched our children grow into young men and women. We surprised each other in 2008 as we reached our 5oth birthdays! We have appreciated seeing our husbands develop a lifelong friendship. Yes, Kelly and I have reveled in a rich friendship, for sure.
We both love to cook and entertain, so we have doled out countless recipes via phone, letters, and email. We have taken pleasure in a friendship and camaraderie with seven other women for more than 30 years, a group you will read more about tomorrow!
One thing I have respected so much in my friend, Kelly is the way she has worked diligently in her nursing career for many years. Indeed, two of my FFs, Forever Friends from high school, Mary and Cindy have done the same in this identical profession. I have great respect for all that I know that work in this field, because it truly takes a unique individual to take care of and nurture the ill in our world. Kelly has worked in a variety of jobs, from a maternity nurse to a high school school nurse who counsels young pregnant teens. When the nine of us from TTU, gather for our annual reunion, Kelly always has the best stories from her experiences in caring for others.
As we walked on Saturday, Kelly told me about a friend of hers who is a 50 something woman. This friend declared to Kelly that she does not quite know what to do with herself, as her children have left and she is no longer taking care of them. This 50 something woman has not worked outside of the home for more than 20 years. And now, she is unsure of which direction to go in her life.
A multitude of my 50 something friends, like Kelly, still work countless hours outside of their homes. Many, like Kelly, are passionate about making a difference in their workplace. My FF, Jan, is another great example as she is contributing to her household by working with young disabled children. Wherever a 50 something woman might find herself, be it, full or part-time employment, volunteerism, caring for senior adults or grandchildren, enjoying a favorite sport, owning a business for the very first time, I trust that each of us will look after ourselves for a change...Like Kelly and me, put yourself on the list for that power-walk with a cherished friend...and let someone else make the pancakes just as we did this past Saturday morning.