Have you ever had friends for what seems like a lifetime? I have.
I first met the Hatfield family as a young girl. My two older sisters and I babysat their three children. I was around twelve when I first joined the cue of available babysitters. On longer than one day assignments I would join a sister and take on the Hatfield kids. They were wonderful and very rambunctious children and it often would take two of us to actively babysit for them.
As we grew up the Hatfield family moved away. First, they moved to downtown Wilmington, Delaware (I grew up in the suburbs), and then halfway across the country.
As we, my sisters, and I grew up we got active in our own lives, and eventually, we lost touch with the family, except for the catch-up Christmas Cards every year.
Fast forward to 1975. I became a Vista Volunteer in northwestern Wisconsin. As the only nurse in the local program, I was sent for special training for disaster emergencies. I went to Milwaukee for a two-day training session. I knew the Hatfields lived nearby in Mequon, thanks be for Christmas Cards with return addresses. On a whim, I called them, and at the end of my training, now as a young adult woman, I reestablished my friendship with them.
It has been a blessing, profound and wonderful as I established a friendship with all of them that has endured over the years. They have loved and supported me unconditionally. Sharon, the mom, has been my mentor, teacher, astrologer, friend and so much more. In many ways, she has helped me shape my life. When I think of Sharon and her family my heart is full.
When we were still babysitting for the kids, Sharon was an early example of an independent, strong, honest, and loving woman. We thought she was cool because she worked for Planned Parenthood, played the guitar, and had all the Joan Baez and Bob Dylan albums. For a mom in the 60’s she was cool. She was outspoken and voiced her opinions and beliefs without hesitation. As I look back to this early connection I realize now that she was shaping my life, even then.
Eventually, we met up, again, in Minnesota. I lived in the Twin Cities and they lived in Marine on St Croix, east of the cities. I would go visit when I needed to talk to someone. I would go visit when I needed to feel love. I would go visit and housesit while Sharon and David (her husband) traveled the western part of the USA. David was a hospital administrator and with his help and support, I was able to get a job at St Paul Children’s Hospital. Specialty jobs were hard to come by for nurses at that moment in time.
After a few more moves around the country, Sharon and David retired to Rockville, Utah, just outside the west entrance of Zion National Park. The “kids” were grown and had established themselves in different parts of the country.
Over the years all the kids and I have stayed in touch, at least through Facebook.
So why am I telling you this? My friend Sharon is celebrating her ninetieth birthday on June 23rd. They are having a party in the park in Rockville. Friends and family are coming to celebrate this milestone. Truly I think everyone is coming because they love her. She has shaped many lives with her honest and giving nature.
When I first received an invitation to join the celebration I said no. It is a thousand-mile drive and blah, blah, blah. Then I stopped and thought if this was eight years ago and I had just bought this rig, would I hesitate to go? Well, No. I would hop in my rig and hit the road.
I changed my mind. On June Ninteenth I am on the road. I head south and east. First stop, Pendleton Oregon, where I will join David Jr and his daughter and we will convoy to southern Utah. I am as excited about this meet-up as I am about the party. David is Sharon’s oldest son. We have had our own adventures over the years, getting stuck in a blizzard in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, northern Minnesota in the middle of the winter being one of them. He helped outfit me for my first backpack and along with a friend from Vermont introduced me to hiking and camping the backcountry. I could go on but I will not.
I am telling you, this family has helped shaped my life.
We will head south in my rig and his car. His daughter Taylor Rose will ride between the two vehicles and keep everyone company. I will have time to catch up with them as we stop to rest and spend one night at a hotel. Them in a room and me in my rig.
As the time draws closer (8 days today) I am getting excited to have a new adventure to head towards. My rig is ready. My refrigerator is ready and I too am ready.
I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the idea of people as I have been pretty secluded over the last year and a half. It is good to have my RV, If peopleing is too much for me I can disappear into my very own space and even shut the door. The party is set up for social distancing and I am sure the mask will come out. This is the first chance I have really taken in a long time Yet, How Could I Miss This Celebration.
Adventure awaits and I am going to embrace it. Adventure awaits and I am walking into it with my arms and heart wide open. Adventure awaits and I look forward with excitement and love to seeing Sharon and her family again.
Enduring friendships are a blessing as we get older. So many just fade away. You are very fortunate!
I love this, Janet. I admire you so much. And as a side note, we just came through Pendleton. 😊
Janet, I am doing the same thing, connecting with old friends from my childhood through my career years back East. So many have made a difference in my life, and I am on a mission to acknowledge all of them. Will begin my trek across country to the glorious Oregon Coast around July fourth. Hope our paths cross. Safe travels.