Monday, January 21, 2013

A Portrait of Four Friendships

"My friend, if I could give you one thing I would give you the ability to see yourself as others see you. Then you would realize what a truly special person you are." ~Barbara A. Billings


Our About the Author series continues with Vicki McKeefery. She explains what inspired her story, "A Portrait of Four Friendships," and  talks about the glue that holds women together . . .  their friendships with other women.
 
Originally, the working title was “The Girls” because my grandmother called her group of friends “the girls.” It was obvious these women were far from “girls,” rather more akin to “oldies.”  My siblings and I thought it was hilarious. 
 
In my story, the four friends I write about have always been “the girls.” I now realize that the name represents more a state of mind than a chronological age.  We are not girls, yet I don’t feel like a senior citizen which is, however, exactly how the world sees me.  So, I permit myself this delusion. 
 
"The Girls"
Last year we celebrated forty years of friendship. We openly acknowledged how special it felt to have remained close for such a large part of our lives.  We began as colleagues, hired by the same school district to teach what was then known as Junior High school.  Over four decades we've stayed friends through a combination of luck - none of us moved too far from the original school district - and our determination to remain friends even as our lives expanded and took on new commitments.
 
I began my teaching career in 1971 on a team teaching World Cultures to 9th graders and U.S. History to 8th graders.  Although I wrote about the four of us, I can truly say that I met many amazing men and women and talented teachers in that school.  I went on to become a reading specialist.  Then I taught reading in a secondary private school before I was hired in a neighboring school district as an elementary school reading specialist.  Everywhere I went, I met dedicated and gifted teachers.
 
Reading to my two children as they grew, and working with reading during my career, I appreciate the power of the written word.  I can think of no higher honor than to write words that others feel are worth reading. 
 
 I am the history teacher narrator of my story.   For the last twenty years, my small nuclear family has had no extended family close by.  Consequently, these three women in the story became my family, pitching in to help in overwhelming situations and just being there to talk to in simple, everyday situations.  I wrote this story to honor our friendship and the support these women have given me, without which, my life would have been so much poorer and lonelier. 
 
I learned by writing this memoir piece that, ironically, it may be a sort of epitaph too.  “The Girls” have had forty years together, but change comes to everything and everyone.  We are no exception.  Another stage of life looms. Some of us will not stay in our present houses and may move closer to children who are in other states.  Some will move to retirement centers which will take them out of the area. 

“The Girls” may end, but I hope this simple portrait of four friendships will stand as homage to those people who walk beside us and share our experiences through the significant parts of our life.   
 



Vicki McKeefery graduated from Penn State with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and from Villanova University with a master's in American History.  She lives in Malvern, PA and works for the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, coordinating their youth and family programs.  A teacher in public and private schools her whole career, she has taught every age group imaginable!

10 comments:

ShirleyHS said...

Loved this post and all groups of women friends that have long histories. I am in two such groups, one from my college days, and one from my years as being a college president. As we age, we come to appreciate the value of these friendships more and more. I only live in the same town with one of these friends... but we travel to common locations to see each other on a regular basis. We cherish each other.

Candice said...

Vicki-

I think most of us women can relate to your story of cherished friendship. It's a reminder for us to give a shout out to our "besties". Their love, laughter and unconditional acceptance is priceless, just like your story.
Thanks so much for sharing.

Candice

Susan G. Weidener said...

Shirley, How true . . . that as we age, we come to value more and more long-standing friendships, our shared histories, no need to explain or have to be someone we are not.

It's wonderful you have committed friends.

I have two special friends - one I have know over four decades, a woman, and the other, interestingly, a man I went to college with . . . his support over the years has been sustaining, as well as hers. I feel blessed to have both in my life.

Susan G. Weidener said...

Vicki,

Thank you for sharing these thoughts and memories. I know that your story in our anthology - which describes in beautiful detail, and with priceless humor and heartfelt words, will truly be a joy to our readers.
Susan

Jan Backes said...

Vicki,

You have captured realationships and examined them for all to see. It is beautiful. I hope to be in such a group with you and the Women of the Circle. To know one another for years to come. Thank you for your humor.
Jan

kathleen pooler said...

Dear Vicki,
What a beautiful tribute to the power of friendships to heal, enrich and inspire one another throughout one's life. The enduring bonds you "girls " share is truly heartwarming and strikes a universal chord for all women. It reminds me of my own dear friends who have accompanied me through out my own life and truly made a difference. Lovely!

LadyDi said...

You and your girls have such a wealth of shared history that you will remain connected regardless of where life leads each of you. Your writing is a fitting tribute.
I bet it was fun to write about your friendship.

Ginger Murphy said...

Vicki - I can really relate to a close circle of friends becoming what Grey Panthers activist Maggie Kuhn would call a "family of choice." Those friends are precious and your tribute a wonderful reminder to hold them dear for all they have brought to our lives!

Patty Kline-Capaldo said...

Vicki,
What would we do without our "girls"? Those friends that listen, laugh and love us through anything and everything. You're so fortunate to have had the same ties through so many years. Thanks for sharing your story.
Patty

ep said...

Dear Vicki,
Your marvelous story bears witness to the joy and confidence you and your friends have shared these many years. Thank you!
Edda