Friday, July 25, 2014

Four Firm Friends.


“We could have a picnic.”

Since 1985 Margaret, Jackie, Joy and I had been friends.  Margaret was born in the West Country and relocated to Minehead in 1984.  Joy was already here.  I came in 1985 and Jackie a year later.  I can’t remember how it happened but Margaret was the catalyst that drew us all together and we became firm friends.  At least once a month we would have a jaunt, taking it in turns to organise the outing which would remain a secret until we arrived.

 Margaret reminded me that I always preferred to visit a country Inn for lunch rather than take a picnic but eventually Margaret got her wish and we were told to come armed with our packed lunch.

This is how Margaret remembers it:

M: Pat what have you brought in your picnic.

P: I don’t know; Alastair made it.

 According to M I then brought out napkins, a series of dainty little goodies, four wine glasses and a chilled bottle of wine.  I have no recollection of this but it is true I was very, very spoilt.

 Things are rather different these days.  It was a sadness to us all when Margaret and her husband left for Cheltenham to be near their daughters but we have been in close touch for the last four years and – in the words of Monica “She’s my best friend.”

 Jackie is about to be 90 and is very well cared for by her daughter with whom she lives.  Joy is now a widow and quite frail especially since a fall in the garden which has prompted assisted living – at least for the time being.

Our problem was how we could get us all together whilst Margaret was visiting me and her suggestion of a picnic didn’t seem a brilliant idea.  As usual Margaret made light of any difficulties and a plan was formed.

 Jackie’s daughter Jane would drive her up to Joy’s house complete with her picnic.  The door would be open so we could all gain access.  Margaret and I would walk up the hill with our own picnic and would prepare Joy’s when we got there.

Then we started getting cancellations and doubts and fears but M and I were adamant it was going to come to pass and if Joy wasn’t happy after a few minutes we would retire gracefully.

At first it was quite muted as we reacquainted ourselves as a group.  I was quite peckish so made Joy salmon sandwiches garnished with lettuce and tomato – enough for have to have for lunch and later.  Wisely Joy kept the wine in the fridge and M and I had already decided - with the various medicaments we would have our tipple later in the day.  We had – between us - to get Jackie safely home - down one lane and up another. Gradually we fell into our usual – everybody talking at once, some of us getting the wrong end of the stick, mishearing, reminiscing and having a good time.

Two hours later when we thought perhaps it was time to go Joy perked up and wanted us all to go upstairs to see the suit she had bought with her daughter for her daughter’s second wedding.  We followed Joy up on her stair lift – keeping a hand on Jackie and then we had to back down a bit whilst Joy dismantled the stair lift so we could get by.

We admired the suit, compared it with the suit she and I had bought together for her grand-daughter’s wedding and Margaret and I made the bed - being hypercritical of each other’s hospital corners. (Margaret was once a Norland Nanny)  We were given a tour of the upstairs – my second in a week and at some stage we went to inspect the back garden and take nuts for the birds.

This was a bit nerve wracking as the garden is steep and we had to keep an eye on Jackie and Joy.  Then it really was time to go.  There were hugs and kisses and a few tears all round.  Joy has her son’s visit next week to look forward to and Jackie’s daughter is giving a party for her 90th soon.

We got Jackie safely home – by this time some of us weren’t quite sure who we were and decided we would have a night on the town whilst we still could.

Showered and changed we ambled down the lovely tree- lined Avenue in the fantastic weather we have had for a week now - with a delicious warm sea breeze to  the newish Stones pub, and had a very pleasant veggie meal in their garden.  It was such a balmy evening we took a long rambling walk home remembering various houses and people we had known, reflecting how Minehead had changed over the years but was still the quiet, sleepy, laid back town we had always known.

Who knows what the future holds but what a blessing to still have at least three friends for life.

Please see pics below.


Anonymous said...

Wonderful!! 'nuff said! xx

angryparsnip said...

Lovely post today.
I have four firm friend too. We are apart now but we keep in touch. And when I think of them it is as if I have just seen them.

cheers, parsnip

Pat said...

John: xoxox

Parsnip: we are lucky:)

LL Cool Joe said...

It's so good that you make the effort to keep up with your friends. And it sounds like the effort is getting harder but worth it. Glad you made it and had fun.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

How wonderful you still have these lovely wonderful 'firm fiends'.....Almost ALL of mine are gone now---so very hard, my dear Pat.....How great that in spite of all the age related problems you STILL got together and had such a terrific time! Treasured moments....May there be more, dear Pat.

sablonneuse said...

It's good to have lasting friendships and you must all be so pleased you made the effort to overcome the difficulties in getting together for a wonderful day out.

Granny Annie said...

Oh how I envy your embrace of adventure and shared memories.

Pat said...

Joey: it doesn't get easier that's for sure - but worth it in the end.

Naomi: One can't help feeling it could be the last time so we were determined to make it happen.

Sablonneuse: I really miss having Margaret's support as the only other really able - bodied one.

Granny Annie: what about your up- coming trip? Adventurous I should say.

kenju said...

There is nothing better, and I am pleased for you that you have them in your life.

Pat said...

Judy: it seems only yesterday when we all met.

Exile on Pain Street said...

That's a well-told tale. You really do have a talent for painting with words. Christopher Hitchens said it best: You can't make old friends.

Ms Scarlet said...

I hope I'm still going out for a night on the town when I'm 90.
Bless you, Pat!

Pat said...

Exile: I hope you are right . Today is the first day of attempting to finish my book once and for all.

Scarlet: heavens to Betsy Scarlet I'm NOT 90!!!!!

Ms Quotes said...

No! I I was referring to your friend!!!

Pat said...

MSQuotes: I have often noticed that the more honest one is about one's age - and I have always been -the more people seem to exaggerate it.
I had one reporter who said 'she looks about - but admits to being 10 years older.' and managed to add ten years on to my actual age. I understand you meant Jackie:)

Ms Scarlet said...

Blimey, that silly baggage Ms Quotes has turned up... I can't seem to log her out of my email app... I have to go the long way round to comment, but I sometimes forget to do this!

rashbre said...

A lovely description of a great day. I hope you have pencilled a date for the next one!

Pat said...

Rashbre: that'll be Jackie's 90th at the end of August.DV.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Effort means love!

How I enjoy the tales about you and your friends, because mostly all of my friends / families live overseas.

This is what makes life better, the community, togetherness. I've been thinking about all this being ill and mostly alone.

savannah said...

what a lovely day that must have been, sugar! you're right about knowing it might be the last time to be together. our trip out to the wine country with Big Shelley and Miss K was exactly that and we'll always be grateful we did it! xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all.

Pat said...

GG: I don't like to think of you ill and alone. Sending you a big hug which I wish I could deliver in person.xoxox

Savannah: that must be such a happy memory.xoxox

Helen: Margaret and I certainly did and I hope the other two didn't find it too tiring.

Mage said...

Friends like that are to be especially cherished. You all are certainly doing life right together. Wonderful.

Pat said...

mage: many thanks:)