A dear friend of mine left my house this morning to return to her home in Michigan. After spending a couple of months in Gulf Shores, Alabama, she asked if she could stop by on her way back north. I jumped at the chance to see her again.
Karen and I met when we both worked at a Social Services office in Michigan. She was a raving beauty (still is, for that matter), with a raucous sense of humor and irresistible smile. We bonded for life during the little time I worked there before moving to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after my husband returned from Vietnam. After that our lives took weird, yet similar paths over the years. We both were divorced from our first husbands when they left us for women eleven years older than they were and raised our children (two for her, three for me) as poverty-stricken, hardworking, frazzled, single moms. I spent a lifetime working for a school district as the superintendent's secretary (five superintendents over the years), and she joined the school board somewhere in there and is still serving on the board despite my telling her she's nuts. We faced many problems, some serious, some idiotic, during those overlapping years, and she still keeps me abreast of what's happening up there. Now we're both retired from our "day jobs," while she continues to serve on the board, and I spend my time taking care of my granddaughter, traveling to see my other children and grandchildren, and writing.
Karen is a skilled writer in her own right, and has authored a column for many years. Our political and religious views are about as dissimilar as possible, but we've always found a way to listen to the other's viewpoint and express our own without going for one another's throats. That's probably due to a couple of things: we both respect one another (and opinions, even though they don't mesh with our own), and our combined, wild and wooly sense of humor. I can always look forward to a belly-laughing, deep cleansing renewal of my spirit when I spend time with Karen. Our conversations are intriguing, spirited, enlightening, and inevitably expose me to views and causes I've never known about or considered. She seldom changes my mind, but she presents her points with passion, and I respect her devotion to what she feels is the correct way of dealing with topics as varied as family, school districts, bosses, leaders, and the nation. She's an intelligent, intuitive, educated woman who has helped innumerable people throughout her life.
I'm honored to have Karen in my life, and I look forward to many more in-person and long distance conversations in our futures. The world needs more women like her, women who are passionate about what they've learned from their life experiences, who love people enough to respect them even if she disagrees with their viewpoints, and who give of their time, money, and laughter to keep their friends on the straight and narrow and the world on its axis.
It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. My someone is Karen. Love you, K.K. Wibesep.
Until the next time...