Thursday, January 14, 2010


Were you lucky to have ever had a mentor in your life whether it was as a co-worker, friend, or someone who just helped you navigate life?  Have you ever been a mentor to someone else?  I was lucky enough to have a group of special women in my life just as I was embarking on married life and motherhood.  They were my neighbors, a group of 5 women at least 10 years my senior.  Though they were only in the early 30's to me they were "older" women as I had just turned 20 when I moved into the block.  We were all stay-at-home mothers but we all had children the same age.  I was a first time mother and they had all just had their last child.  These women were not only my friends but role models as well.  Barbara lived across the street and she was the anchor of the group.  She was the first to move into the neighborhood and everyone else met through her introduction.    Cynthia lived next door and Vanda, Dee and Saundra were down the street.  Joyce was the only member of our coffee group who did not live on the block.

Almost every morning we would gather at someone's house for coffee.  In fact, it is from these women that I learned to drink coffee (though more milk than coffee at the time).   We'd meet with our baby carriers in tow and spend about an hour together just drinking coffee and talking.  Having twins and being so young these women were an invaluable resource of information.  I was the nervous new mother and they were the seasoned veterans.  I learned from them that no, my children would not die if they were exposed to germs or if I got their pacifiers mixed up.  They helped me retain a sense of humor and keep my feet grounded.  I don't know what I would have done without them.  We supported each other through many of life's challenges, the teenage years of our children, death of parents, and for some divorce and the shared grief of loss.  There were also celebrations, weddings, monumental birthdays and the birth of grand children.  

When I saw the movie Steel Magnolias it reminded me of this special time in my life, when wiser women than myself surrounded me and how lucky I am to have had them in my life.  Vanda and I are the last remaining members of that little group of women left on the block.  Cynthia, Dee and Saundra moved many years ago and Barbara passed away 3 years ago but we were at her side.  All of us eventually went back to work and those of us remaining seldom see each other now.  It seems strange that our communication is now through facebook and not the intimate often hilarious conversations we once had over a cup of coffee.


Linda said...

We go through a lot of changes as we work our way through life. We were in the military when my children were born so I've not had the experience you've written about but I wish all young women could have the benefit of it.

oklhdan said... was great to have such a group of women in my life. Friendships that have lasted 40 years!

kenju said...

During my first pregnancy and the first 3 years of my son's life, I had two such women and I remain grateful for their advice, help and compassion to me back then! One is deceased and the other I have not seen since we left Norfolk in 1969.

Anonymous said...

Neighbors on both sides, across the street, and down both sides. In the summer time we gathered on front porches, our menfolk carrying trays of food and drinks across the street. In the winter we took turns hosting euchre games.
Once, a car full of raucous teens raced down our street, thinking it fun to hear angry shouts to slow down. They came again down the street at high speed, and one neighbor threw his rake and hit the car which quickly braked and the teens spilled out full of threats. Much to their horror grown men spilled out of every front door and ran full tilt towards the teens who quickly jumped back into their car and sedately drove away, never to be seen again.
Our neighborhood was a treasure and I think we all knew it.
Most are gone now, but oh, the memories!

oklhdan said...

Anonymous...your neighborhood sounds a lot like ours. We would sit out at night in each other's yards drinking coffee and sharing dessert. Lots of neighborhood parties and fun times. Great memories!