40 years ago last September, a new girl moved to Greencastle. Being from a small town, having a new person was always a huge deal. We discovered that we had both home economics and earth science together, and started to become friends. I invited her to a slumber party, but her mother was very wary of her spending the night at our house. Not to worry--I had my southern momma call her southern momma, and before we knew it, my new friend was able to come to my slumber party. Not to toot my own horn, but my slumber parties were the bomb. That’s another blog.
Before long, this beautiful, sweet girl and I became best friends. Every boy in the school was in love with her. I was thrilled to have Sheila as my new best friend. God placed her in my life at the perfect time. Junior high days had been very tough for me, and I needed Sheila. I still thank God for sending her to me when He did. All during high school, we became closer friends. Although she was a cheerleader and I was a band/choir geek, we still had a lot in common with each other. By the time we were seniors, and looking at colleges, we really wanted the other to go to the school we had chosen. I was eager to go to Indiana State, but she had her mind set on Western Kentucky University. Well, what did I have to lose by looking at Western? I walked onto the campus, and fell in love with the school. So, on August 17, 1975, Sheila and I became freshman at WKU. What a ride those four years were. I won’t lie and say that they were spectacular, because the four years had their ups and downs. We pulled away from each other for a period of time, but always were friends. By the time we graduated, we were good friends again, and Sheila was getting ready to be married. But, the day that we graduated, we found out that her dad had been diagnosed with lung cancer, and we began our adult life with a tragedy that only began to pull us even closer together.
Fast forward 32 years. By now, there aren’t very many people that I’m closer to than Sheila. We have seen each other through the divorce of my parents, the deaths of her parents, the cancer and death of her first husband, the births of our children, our marriages, losses of jobs, and now the trials that our children are going through. We have watched each other’s children grow up, go to school, and become beautiful adults. We joke about finding our nursing home together (she’s been known to tease me about my curls, but I’ve told her that I’ll be in the craft room while she’s getting that perm!). I don’t know what I would do without Sheila in my life. I have to stay her friend--she knows way too much about me. So, Sheila is my BFFL (pronounced biffle). Best Friend For Life. Apparently, from what I’ve been told, that is a step above BFF.
Now for the boy:
31 years ago, a beautiful baby boy was born to my biffle and her lovely husband. You have to understand, that all of the years Sheila and I had known each other, she was going to have a girl and name her Elizabeth. So, all during her pregnancy, we called the baby Elizabeth. Well--until an ultrasound told us that Elizabeth would be a bad name for the baby, unless we wanted to rewrite the song, “A Boy Named Sue”. I still remember the day that Jim called to tell me that Sheila had given birth to a perfect baby boy named James Neal. Even though, technically, he wasn’t my child, I more or less adopted him as mine (I was single at this point of life). I was working in a children’s clothing store, so I bought him books, toys, clothes...and spoiled his sister, Rachel, just as much 14 months later. I loved these children like they were my own. Years later, when my Stephie was born, I knew that Sheila would love Stephie like she was her own. It’s just the way our friendship works. Neal is the boy I never had.
So now, Neal and his beautiful, precious wife, Rachel Jane, have had their own baby boy. Sheila is a Nana, and we are moving into yet another phase of our friendship. I’m so excited to enter this new phase of grandmother-hood and surrogate grandmother (for me). This is as good as being an aunt. I welcome little James Dominic Garvin into this world. You are so loved by so many people. God has placed you in a family that will cherish and love you all the days of your life. I pray that I can be a blessing to you and your family as the years go on. Even though I haven’t met you, I already love you, just like I love your daddy, mama and your nana. God bless you little one and until I hold you in my arms, may God keep you and bless you. Hugs and kisses from Miss Julie
|Nana, Papa and their beautiful grandson|