I recently wrote a tribute on friendship. Once I finished, I had a startling revelation. My relationship with a childhood best friend formed the basis for Tabby and Sage, the twins in A Magic Candle Mysteries. In the series, Tabby and Sage are fraternal twins, but they are also more than sisters who shared a womb. They are best friends.
My long-standing friendship and itchy petticoats (see photo) gave me the rich backstory I needed to craft these siblings. Finally, I had a chance to “write what I know.” I’ve included the essay below. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one of us is Tabby and which is Sage.
The illustrations are from a nonfiction book REMEMBERING that was the first book I wrote, and they were lovingly sketched by my mother-in-law, Martha Hallman Toussaint, one afternoon (such talent!) at the kitchen table.
If you’d like to win one of the 5 ebooks of SNUFFED OUT I’m giving away, share a friendship quality you’ve experienced. I’ll announce the winners on May 10 here on this post.
Growing up in a rural fishing community taught me many values of friendship. As a six-year-old I would’ve said friends are fun and like the same things you do. Some of the things my childhood friends and I loved were crabbing, swimming, bareback riding, mud bogging, diving, roof-walking, tree climbing, building forts, Barbies, canasta, phone pranks (“Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Let him out!”), and even chores. Everything was fun when done with a friend.
However, there was the group painting whoop-de-do… My best friend and I decided to paint her little sister green one day with some paint we found under their house. Green oil-based deck paint. Lordy, we got in so much trouble. And yet the next day, we snuck out and painted all three of us green because it was so much fun. (Not so much fun for our parents though.)
So, I must add “willing to bend the rules” to my definition of friendship. My best friend literally saved my bacon in the classroom when I couldn’t read the words on the chalkboard. She’d whisper the lesson instructions to me every time. We got horrible grades in deportment, and I have secretly thanked that teacher many times for not moving her, or I would’ve flunked that grade. It was not until a school-based eye test revealed how nearsighted I was that my parents took me to the eye doctor.
Fast forward a decade or so and my best friend and I think we’re all grown up. Six months my elder, my friend received her driver’s license first. A few months later she was to drive up to Fripp Island in South Carolina where her father was visiting to pick up her little sister. She drove her mom’s white El Camino, with her at the wheel and me holding the map.
We did okay until we got past Savannah, then I had trouble reading the map (and I still do!). We discovered there was lost and Very Lost. Finally, finally, we found the right place, and we were so relieved. Thankfully, her sister read the map and we took a direct route home. Forgiveness and compassion are integral to friendship.
With maturity, challenges slammed into us at interstate speeds. We made mistakes a-plenty as boys, education, careers, and children headed our way, but we always knew if either of us needed something, the other would be there.
As often happens with young adults, our paths diverged. We moved five states apart. Back in the pre-internet or cell phone days, staying in touch meant long-distance calls or letters, and we did that. Geography and economics kept us apart for decades, but on those rare occasions we got to see each other, the years rolled away. We felt like kids again.
From this I learned friendship isn’t clingy. It endures like an ever-flowering eternal tree (hypoallergenic blossoms and pollen-free for me). Just this week my best friend and I celebrated more than six decades of friendship and hope for many more.
To summarize, my hallmarks of friendship include: good times, shared interests, willingness to bend the rules, forgiveness, compassion, helpfulness, allowing personal space for development, constancy, and abiding love. You may share any of these aspects with a friend, but when you have it all in one package, that’s truly a treasure for the ages.
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Posted in Let's Talk, with Maggie Toussaint • Tags: Best Friends, Hallmarks of Friendship, Let's Talk, Maggie Toussaint, Snuffed Out, Valona Jones | 35 Comments
35 thoughts on “Best Friends”
My friendship growing up with both of my Grandparents on my Mother’s side was great. We went on surprise vacations together, regular vacations and I even interviewed my Grandmother when I was in Elementary School. Learning from them was not only intriguing but interesting too. My Grandfather had his own oil/gas business then he owned a bus garage for a while and my Grandmother was a Redhead like me and I learned plenty from her too.
Hi Crystal, From the way you write, I know those are treasured memories. We are fortunate to have such love and companionship in our lives. Thanks for coming by and entering the book drawing.
I have one friend who’s been loyal through the years since our young sons played together while growing up. She and I both moved away but she has always kept in touch. She comments on my social media posts, calls me to check in periodically, and lets me know she cares. So loyalty is prime on my list. Other friends have moved away and not bothered to keep in touch, born grudges, told me our paths were divergent and we should discontinue our relationship, or followed other interests that left us little in common. I am truly grateful for this one friend who has been steadfast through the years. And for the new friends I’m making now in our current location.
Hi Nancy, Loyalty and steadfastness are stellar friendship qualities. It is a blessing to have your best friend stay in your life. They are the people you can talk to about anything and nothing without judgment. As for the people who lose touch over the years, I have that happen as well. Those are people that I then realize are acquaintances.
My best friend and I talk every week. We’ve known each other since we were fledgling software engineers way back in 1977. I value that shared beginning and our continued shared experiences.
What a delightful friend, Cheryl. I’m happy that you have someone special like that in your life and that you’ve shared so many experiences.
Being raised an Army brat, there were no long time relationships. You learned to make friends fast and to enjoy them while you could. With Dad once on stabilized assignment, I was more fortunate than some for a period. As an adult, I thought it was amazing to have people around you for more than a few months or one school year. I also learned through the years that some friends are here for a period and a very few are there for a lifetime. These times change with reason and sometimes for reasons we don’t understand. The friends that stick around through thick and thin, who laugh with you and lift you up, the one’s that will defend you and also tell you the truth even with it hurts are the ones that you best hold close to your heart.
When our daughter died at 17, people – many who we thought of as friend, disappeared merely because they “didn’t know what to say”. Being a true friend isn’t always easy or fun times. I’m not bitter. Instead it showed me more of how to be that friend that someone else holds dear. I pray to be that friend and to appreciate lovingly the one’s I hold dear to my heart.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Hi Kay, First let me say how sorry I am to hear that you’ve lost a child. I can’t imagine the ache in your heart or how you survived that loss. Second, I have to admit that as a socially awkward introvert, I struggle with helping friends through loss. You don’t want to intrude on their sorrow and you think their family will take up the slack, but, and this is a big but, friends are needed at that time. It is a blessing to have someone to vent to, to sit with in silence, to distract you, or whatever you need. My solution was to make calls during the “before” period. If the friend didn’t want to talk, they knew I cared. Once I helped a friend clean out her mother-in-law’s closet a few days after the funeral. That was a humbling experience for both of us, and in some ways rewarding because that was a tangible way I could show I cared.
My family and I moved a lot when I was younger. I had friends, but never considered a bestie. As I got older and went through many trials, tribulations, false friendships, etc. and finally found TWO “besties”!! I am lucky and blessed to have my cousin as a “bestie” and another friend as a “bestie”. Each love me for who I am (and not) and share my love of Christ as well.
Hi Tracey, It is hard to start over with friendships. But even though it’s tough, it is a life lesson that some things change and some things don’t. We don’t always have a choice about change, but we can make choices about our closest friends. It sounds like your besties support you and each other emotionally and perhaps spiritually. It’s nice to have trusted allies on our journey through life!
My parents moved us regularly when I was little. It made it difficult to make or keep friends for more than a couple of years. As an adult, I’ve been amazed (and in awe) of people who tell me they’ve got lifelong friends. That truly does seem to be somewhat of a miracle these days.
It is a miracle and a blessing, and I don’t use those words lightly. Headed off to lunch with this special friend!
Maggie, a lovely essay. I don’t really have any childhood friends other than family, but I’ve gained some wonderful friends as an adult.
I hear you, Diane, and I wish you well with your friendships!
I’ve been lucky to carry through a friend from every stage of my life. The type of friend one may not see for long periods of time, but pickup exactly like it was yesterday. My deepest friendship dates back to when I moved to a new state and a new school mid-year… and a girl took me under her wings because as she later told me, I looked just like the doll her sister got for Christmas. Neither of us look like we did back then, but I always call to see what she got for Christmas (just in case it looks like any of the kids we’ve had as grown-ups).
thanks for sharing that friendship with us, Debra. You are so fortunate to have stayed in touch with your friend!
Sweet memories your friends shared make me grateful for the friends I cherish and contemplate the ones lost.
Thanks for your kind words, schmelzb. Friendships are such an important part of life.
One of my oldest friends, besides my twin sister, is a friend from my high school days. Even though we live far apart from each other, we have still kept in touch through letters, cards, exchanging gifts and emails. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding. We have been there for each other through numerous losses. Both of us try to be supportive of each other during difficult times.
That’s so touching, Cherie. I understand the closeness of a sibling and a longtime friend. They are different and yet both sustaining.
What a lovely story. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks, Sandy. So glad you stopped by today!
My best friend is also my daughter, she is always there for me no matter what. Thank you
Hey Isis #12, Daughters are special. You are so fortunate that you and your daughter click so well!
Friendships are wonderful. Unfortunately, I don’t really have any girlfriends, I would love to have a girl friend to chat with or meet for coffee. My husband is my best friend but it isn’t the same.
I understand about that, Julie. It’s often a number of factors that seem to isolate us, and it takes courage to reach out and make a connection with others. As an adult, I’ve developed new friendships with people who take an interest in the things I like. We share a sense of community as we sing together and walk together or whatever. I hope you are able to put yourself out there in a way that words for you and your marriage.
I have acquaintances, but very few best friends. My family and best friends are always there for me and I can always count on them.
I hear you, Dianne. Best friends are golden. It’s like the song I remember from Brownie Girl Scouts: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
My best friend, sister/friend I have had since 3rd grade. We’ve been through so much of life together. Good times and sad times.
How wonderful that you were able to keep that connection and support each other through life. That’s truly a blessing.
Aw! What a beautiful topic! One of my most cherished qualities of friendship is acceptance – for each of us to be able to be ourselves (to be truly seen) and for that to be okay. I think that is one of the safest feelings there is! I’ve been lucky enough to find this with several friends over the course of my life ❤️
Thank you, Maria. Acceptance is powerful, and being true to yourself is empowering and affirmative. How nice that you’ve had several close friends so far. Thanks for coming by.
I had a best-friend as a child and that friendship is one of the best memories of growing up. We met in second grade and stayed friends until she moved in sixth grade. We did everything together. Rode bikes, hung out at the swimming pool, played tag on summer nights, went to movies, had sleep-overs, wrote stories and made up plays etc. Her parents divorced and she stayed at my house more during that time. It was just one of those relationships that stays with you throughout your life and always has a special place in your soul.
Thank you for sharing that, Sandra. It’s lovely that you two clicked and stuck together!
MY WINNERS ARE TRACEY A, SANDRA08M, LISA HARNESS, DIANNE CASEY, AND ISISTHE12TH. WINNERS WERE SELECTED USING RANDOM.ORG. I’LL EMAIL Y’ALL FOR THE KINDLE EMAIL ADDRESS. CONGRATS TO THE WINNERS AND THANKS FOR ALL WHO ENTERED THE CONTEST AND SHARED OF THEIR FRIENDSHIPS. MAGGIE