As we roll into another year, I feel like sending a bit of cyberlove to the amazing friends who are my real life Bridge Club by retelling this story. This is old news for some of you who read my blog but many of you won’t know the story.
Along with some fine, steadfast BFF’s in my life, I have this special group that has shared friendship for over 45 years. There are ten of us in what we laughingly call the Bridge Club. We chuckle about it because, to be honest, cards have not played the most important role in our lives although we do enjoy the game.
We’re all the same age give or take a year and that is the most obvious thing we have in common. We have very diverse personalities, sizes, shapes, hairstyles, careers, bank accounts, and families. Yet, at the same time, we are one. The values we share are undeniable.
Like everyone on the planet, we each have our own story. Part of forging a strong friendship is accepting and understanding each other’s story, even if we’re not in accord with every aspect. Agreeing to disagree can be an important step in accepting differences and working through issues.
Becoming a valued part of each other’s story is a true sign of the quality of a friendship.
Our Bridge Club shares a history filled with memories that range from deliriously happy to devastatingly sad and encompass everything in between. It’s been quite a ride made all the more meaningful by knowing each one of us was “there” for whatever we needed. It hasn’t always been everyone responding at the same time but rather whoever had the best to offer the situation. No matter what, we are all in the loop and ready to bring what we could.
Some of the women in our group have known each other since kindergarten. Others came into the circle in our late teens and early twenties through school and university. From our days in the Psychedelic Sixties as hip, liberated “twenty-somethings”, or so we thought, to our present day status as “zoomers’”, our connection has been a constant.
Even though some of us are separated geographically now, we keep in touch. Six of us still get together frequently and we plan reunions with the others when we can. For the past twenty years, we have gathered for a major birthday celebration every five years and, trust me, we can still party!
September, 2010, we had an awesome week together on Vancouver Island. All ten of us laughed way too much, were organized into an impressive range of activities by the “planner” in the group, and, oh yes, played bridge. Did I mention we laughed way too much?
We piled into our vehicles one perfect morning – Bo driving 6 in the van, Barb with 4 in her car – to make the two-hour or so drive to Campbell River for lunch at Dick’s Fish and Chips. Nothing else would do!
The first scenic stop was at Qualicum Beach for a group photo. If you have visited Vancouver Island, I’m sure you will agree about the absolute unspoiled beauty of that part of the world particularly when the sun is shining and the temperature is just right.
Before I knew it, an unsuspecting guy relaxing on a nearby bench had been recruited. He continued to smile as he was handed several cameras and patiently completed the task.
Wondering who we were, some of us chatted for a few minutes. Barb took a photo of the rest of us with him and someone handed him a postcard about my novel, The Bridge Club. I should mention here that this was just a month after publication and the bridge club ladies were being the best promoters a writer could hope for!
But then again, as they constantly reminded me with grins, the novel is their story … with the lines blurred here and there to make it fiction. And that’s the truth, I could never have written the book without the history we have shared nor without their permission and whole-hearted approval.
Two days after I returned home to Toronto, a polite e-mail (address from my website on the postcard) arrived from the Qualicum Beach ‘photographer’ asking if it was ok to contact me. I was impressed by his thoughtful courtesy, agreed, and thanked him again for taking the great photo. Two days passed and this arrived to my inbox.
|Inspired by sun, sand and blue mountains Laughter and joy, the bridge club’s gift.
An aging gypsy, a beach-side moment,
lovely women, fellow travelers.
A snap shot in time, joined for an instant.
Each alone yet connected,
through joys, sorrows and inner callings,
visions from the “psychedelic sixties”.
Honesty and truth, service to a common good
forged in the fires of friendship.
For me, silence and solitude,
meditation halls and prayer.
Birthed in the sixties
nurtured for decades
blossoming in the moment.
Brother and sisters… same goal , different pathways.
All the best
He had obviously read the blurb about The Bridge Club history on the postcard and on my website and penned this just for us. This unknown Qualicum Beach ‘photographer’ made our brief stop that morning a very special memory forever.
It’s memories that weave the threads of our story together – the good and the bad, the “stuff” of life. We have choices to make every day and the more we are able to ensure they are affirmative and beneficial, the better our story becomes. When our story is authentic, value-based, and strong everyone connected to us benefits as well. It’s our own personal way of paying it forward.
Having true friendship in your life can only add positives to your journey in every way. The giving is equally as satisfying as the receiving.
The most important lesson we’ve learned from each other? To have a good friend, you must be a good friend.
I wish the same for you.
Take a minute today to let your friends know how much they mean to you. To all of you who take the time to drop by my blog, I’d like to think we are developing a friendship of sorts as well. I want to tell you how much I appreciate your visits. You have no idea how motivating and inspiring it is to know you’ve stopped in. Thanks!
Gail Johnston says
Wow – beautifully said!
Thanks, Gail! You know what it’s all about.
Emmie Mears says
Patricia — love this post! There is no greater love than friendship like that, I think. (If you can find that in a spouse, you’ve won the lottery.)
I nominated you for the Kreativ and Inspiring blogger awards! Here’s the linky: http://emmiemears.com/2012/01/25/much-belated-blog-awards/
Thanks for being such a great part of the online community!
Hey Emmie, thanks for the award! You are so right about the importance of true friendship, not simply with your BFF’s but your spouse. Lottery win, indeed!
Natalie Hartford says
So beautifully said and what a wonderful reminder about the value of friendship Patricia. I’ll definitely fire off a note of appreciation to my gals pals!! Your adventures sound ahhhmazing!!!
This is lovely.
Hey Natalie, I’m sure you are great at reminding your friends how you feel!
Thanks Lesann. There’s nothing like good friends!
Tameri Etherton says
What a great story, Patricia! That man on the beach was just waiting for you women, I think. In a spiritual way, not a creepy way. ; )
I’ve always wanted to have life long friendships like you have with your Bridge Club, but it hasn’t worked out that way for me. I love reading about your group, though. What a fabulous bunch of ladies to have in your life!
Thanks Tameri, they are a fab bunch all right. It turns out the “man on the beach” has spent a lot of time at buddhist retreats and felt that moment on the beach was one of those “meant to be” life experiences. We thought it was very cool.
Nancy J Nicholson says
Patricia, this is a beautiful story and you’ve sewn together a beautiful tapestry in the Bridge Club. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Nancy, true friendship provides many threads for a fine tapestry.
I just adore you and your Bridge Club. I feel like I know all of you well after reading your book. Friends usually come and go over the years. You are one of the lucky ones to have so many for so long. Beautiful tribute to friendship!
Margie Shaw says
This was just beautiful to read. Its wonderful that you all can get together like that. It must be so much fun! Thank you for sharing.