Let’s Talk with Lois Winston

In Celebration of International Friendship Day
By Lois Winston

Today is International Friendship Day, so I’ve decided to devote my post to my oldest friend and tell why she meant so much to me.

I grew up in the early years of television, but my home life was nothing like what I saw portrayed on Father Knows Best or Leave It to Beaver. Without going into gruesome details, suffice to say my parents never should have had children, let alone four of them.

We moved from the city to the suburbs when I was eleven. I started junior high the same day as all the other incoming seventh graders from four elementary schools. I knew no one. Friendships were long established, and no one seemed inclined to include the new girl.

Junior high schoolers can be some of the cruelest humans on earth, and I quickly found myself the target of the mean girls. Lunch period was the worst. One brave girl named Janice saw how I was being bullied and had the courage to invite me to sit with her and her friends. We quickly became good friends. Her home became my second home, and in her family, I discovered a family that was pretty much like the ones depicted on television—filled with love, not abuse.

Janice and I lost touch after high school graduation. She attended nursing school in New Jersey, and I went off to college in Pennsylvania where I met my husband and remained until 1998 when a job transfer brought me back to New Jersey. About a year later Janice and I found ourselves seated at the same lunch table when another author brought her as a guest to a writing organization I belonged to.

Our friendship picked up as if the intervening years had never occurred. We were each other’s oldest friends, and she took delight in pointing that out to everyone—whether friend, relative, or total stranger. She also took great pride in bragging to people about my books and how I’d named a character after her. She loved to read mysteries and romance and several times traveled with me to writing events because she loved being around authors. A photo of her sits on a shelf with some of my books.

Janice died a year ago last April 30th after a grueling eight-month battle with cancer. I spent much of those months taking her to doctor appointments, chemotherapy treatments, and visiting her during her many hospital stays. It was my way of giving back to her for all she had done for me decades before. She offered me friendship when I needed it most, and I’ll forever be grateful to her for that and for having the chance to rekindle our friendship over the last twenty years.

Have you ever had a friend who dramatically changed your life? Post a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of any one of my books. Find them all on my website at www.loiswinston.com.

Comments

  1. They all good so good, thanks for the chance.

  2. Dear Lois,
    Thank you for sharing your friendship with Janice. I am positive your paths crossed again for a reason.
    I have little things written in front of my bible that remind me how everything has a purpose.

    “Some people come into our lives & quickly go.
    Some people move our souls to dance.
    They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their Wisdom.
    Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
    Others stay in our lives for awhile…and leave footprints 👣👣on our Hearts💕
    And we are Never the same.”

    I look at each person who crosses my path in life 💕as a bit of destiny. Even if it is to
    give a smile or nice greeting to a stranger.
    About 35years ago my 1 st friend passed on of breast cancer, within a year another. Both had
    small children. I took them I chemo sat at the hospital at the end. Gave the eulogy 🙂 helped with
    the children… It was..very late for both if them. My next friends I learned to make *care packages*
    with books, bath goodies, beverages..things to make you feel good when you feel like you can’t get up off the floor 🙂 crochet lap blanket & angel 👼. I lost another 6 to ovarian cancer & breast & ALS.in the past years. Family & Friends. All with a wonderful history of friendship.

    Each one touched my life in different ways. I can recall each person like they were just here.
    I know they are safe in the arms of the Lord, out of pain.

    Thank you for sharing your friendship

    • Thanks so much for sharing! I do believe our paths crossed again for a reason, and I’m thankful I was there for Janice when she needed me.

  3. I’m sorry you lost your close friend, Lois, especially to such an illness. I’ve been fortunate to have good friends through stages of life and many of them changed my life. I have thought of writing an essay about all I’ve learned by wise women friends. Few have been long term. One friend became very close in just the past few years, and she passed in November. We had so many plans and it seemed like a relationship cut short, in contrast to your long one. A true friend is rare, no matter when we find them in life, is my thought. It’s been a difficult loss for me, often thinking of situations we would have discussed and wondering her opinion on this or that. Thanks for a great tooic and giving me the chance to honor her in some small way. I love cozies and think it’s great you left the darker side. 🙂

    • “great topic”

    • Thanks for sharing, Cathy! How wonderful that you’ve had many close friends throughout your life. It’s never easy when we lose someone special, and right now with what we’re all dealing with, it’s so much harder.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss, but am so happy that you and Janice were able to rekindle your friendship, as if no time had passed. I am so glad you were both there for each other, and thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Good morning! First of all I am sending you hugs and prayers of comfort. It would be so hard to lose such a close friend. I too would have such pain if I lost two of my friends! I am sorry I can’t pin it down more, I am kind of “breaking” the rules, eh?

    My cousin, Robin, and I have always been close throughout the years. I am an only child and would delight in the summer vacations we would spend together. The times were more of a challenge to her than me, not too much gap in our ages, only months, but I always thought of her as a sister and still do! She is a constant to me, being truthful, tactful and loving at the same time. We talk several times a week and give each other encouragement in many ways. I don’t know what I would do without her!

    My other friend who has helped me “travel through life” is Julia. We worked together and became friends quickly. We have given much love and laughter through our challenges, God giving advice and encouragement. I have been blessed to have such laughter and joy, a kick in the pants too, if needed, but always with kindness and love. I could go on and on about her, but must just keep this short.

    My blessings are many with Robin and Julia and thank God every day for them.

    Also, thank you for this giveaway. I love the cozy mysteries and love to escape to them when I can!

    • Tracey, how lucky you are to have two such wonderful people in your life! And I love that you enjoy escaping into cozies. That’s why I write them. I started my writing career writing dark romantic suspense but soon realized that there was too much darkness already in the world. I didn’t want to create more on the page, even if in the end there was always a happily-ever-after. I love escaping into my cozy created world and sharing it with readers.

  6. robeader says

    My oldest and dearest friend has been on my side since high school. We are both chunky girls who grew into plump old ladies but we still have fun together. Our friendship has been through marriage, divorce, children, and death of my parents, my husband being hurt at his job, among many, many other events. But we are still friends or should I say sisters.

    • Thanks for commenting, Robeader. It does my heart good to hear of all these special friends our readers have. How wonderful that you are one of them!

  7. Norma Duncan says

    I’ve had a friend like that who died from cancer about a year ago. She never complained. I took her to most of her appointments because her daughters both worked. She was the best person you’d ever want to have in your life. She rescued me from a traumatic work situation and gave my spirit an uplift that carried me through. I loved her.

  8. What a beautiful post! You made my heart feel warm and blessed 🙂 🌹

  9. Lois, what a lovely tribute. You were lucky indeed to have a good friend when you needed one, and she was equally lucky to have you when she was the one in need. I have one friend from high school who I keep in sporadic touch with over Facebook, but my besties are friends I’ve made as adults, and I’ve known them for probably 30 years. Hard do believe so much time has passed, but we all look as young as we ever did. 🙂

    • Thanks, Diane. There’s a line in the first Indiana Jones movie that my husband is fond of quoting–It’s not the years, it’s the miles.

  10. Lois, you articulated the feelings of this type of friendship beautifully. Having lost a few close friends, one in much the same way and to the same disease you describe, I feel for you. My friend and I were both avid readers and traveled together quite a bit (and even let our husbands come for some of the trips). Early on, when we realized we brought duplicate books to the beach, we decided rather we would each buy certain ones and before the trip was over we’d swap out. We did the same thing at home. When Nora Ephron came out with “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” I bought it first. My friend kept wanting to read it, but I couldn’t bring myself to give it to her because like the eventuality our friendship faced and that occurred with yours, Nora spent a chapter describing how her dearest friend became ill and lived and died with grace and Nora in her corner. My friend eventually got hold of the book and understood that it was from friendship that I couldn’t share it with her. To Nora, yours, and mine — may their memories always be a blessing.

    • Debra, I cried when I heard that Nora Ephron had died. I loved her books and movies but especially her book of essays about getting older. I have all of them.

  11. Marilyn, what a wonderful friend to undertake so much work on your behalf!

  12. Great story, Lois. I’ve never had a friend who changed my life. Most of my close friends I met in collage. But I have a lot of childhood friends that I’ve connected with via Face Book. It’s so much fun seeing what they are doing with their lives. Next year will be 50 years since I graduated high school! Time flies.

  13. judyalter says

    You were blessed with that friendship and with being able to repay Janice’s kindness to you. The world needs more friendships like yours. I am fortunate to be in close touch with my best friend from middle school years–we too parted during college, me to grad school and she to marriage. But we always kept in touch, though miles separated us, and today I feel she still is one of the people who knows me best and cares–and I know the feeling is mutual. Old friends are gold…..

  14. How wonderful that you and Janice were able to meet up again and how sad that you lost her. But those years of friendship were golden and you are fortunate to have had them. Most of my besties have moved away over the years or drifted off to other interests. I wish I had a steadfast friend like yours but to me it seems an elusive goal. Most of my friends now are fellow writers or merely acquaintances.

    • Nancy, I think that’s true of most people. Few people have that one special friend who has lasted a lifetime. Friends come and go in our lives. People drift apart for all sorts of reasons. I was very lucky to reconnect with Janice and have her friendship again for as long as I did.

  15. maggietoussaint says

    Such a touching story of friendship and love. I was very moved by your friendship that held fast through the years. I grew up in a large family as well and became fast friends with two sisters who lived two houses down from us. We got into all kinds of adventures and misadventures as kids and teens. After school ended, we went our separate ways and began our own families, but one of the sisters always called me on every birthday (and I also called her on her birthday). We’d spend at least an hour on the phone, laughing and reminiscing and our bond remained strong. When I came home once a year, I always found time amidst the round of family visits to see her and her sister. It was always like we’d only been apart for a day. That friendship has sustained me through the years–and we’re not done yet! We now have a once a month function with my sister and some cousins that we call “Girls Lunch” and even though we’re all living nearby, we hold that time sacrosanct because it’s Our Time. Was it a dramatic change? No, but it was /is an enduring sisterhood.

  16. Beautiful story and one I needed to read today. Thank you for sharing as I reach out
    today to my oldest friend on her birthday. Thank you for sharing, Lois
    and Book Lovers Bench! Beth Schmelzer

  17. That is a wonderful, heartwarming story. And no, I don’t really have a tale about a friends who dramatically changed my early life. I do have a friend who has dramatically changed things this year–she helped me self-publish all my books–in fact, she encouraged me to do it, and did most of the work.