Friends come in all forms, past and present, young and old, same and different. There is a song I remember vividly from my childhood that said, “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” We used to sing it at our Campfire Girls outings. I’ve never forgotten it and have whole heartedly believed it to be true my entire life.
I love my friends and find such comfort in their presence within my life. There is one particular group of girlfriends that I refer to as my “Forever Friends.” These are the girls that have been with me throughout my entire life, most of us meeting somewhere between the ages of 5 and 8. We know the best and worst in each other. We share in life’s ups and downs. We are the ears that listen, the voice that soothes, and the heart that hopes and prays for the best for each of us. We don’t get to see each other very often, but I know they are there because when life feels a little hard, they are the ones that reach out across thousands of miles to say, “No matter how far away you are you are still on my mind and in my heart. I am here and always will be.”
Last night, as I was relaxing at home, I received a text from one of these Forever Friends. Robin had just come back from a Relay for Life walk in my hometown area. She was sending me pictures of the luminaries that are prevalent at these walks for charity put on for the American Cancer Society. A couple of weeks ago she had contacted me to ask if it would be okay to light a luminary in memory of Mama. I was both happy and overwhelmed by the love being expressed. There is truly something special in having lifelong friends who not only can relate to what you are going through, but can also reminiscence about life with Mama; after all, she did consider them as her own as well.
As I read her texts relaying the evening’s events and marveled at the photos of the beautiful luminaries, I found a sense of peace wash over me. There are so many people who loved Mama and the fact that she is not forgotten is truly a blessing beyond compare.
I have to admit, I have the best friends ever!! They always know how to lift up my spirits and make me smile. Most of the time, a good cup of tea, coffee, or champagne with idle chit chat and a little relaxation time is all we really need to rejuvenate our energy levels. I like to refer to them as my “just breath” moments.
Some of the time though, I’m lucky enough to be given the best little Happy Day Treats. As an Easter gift, one of my sweet friends gave me this beautiful bird feeder, mentioning that it reminded her of me. I have to admit, she’s was pretty spot on. I even believe this bird feeder was specifically meant to find its way to me.
Now I’ve never owned a bird feeder before and this particular friend has never been to my parents’ house or been made privy to the fact that my mom loved bird feeders and had several of them placed throughout the absolutely gorgeous garden at their home.
So again I ask you….just coincidence? By now, I think you know my answer to that.
For years….literally years…ever since a visit to Italy, I have been in search of the perfect set of little Italian wine glasses to sip the most delectable vino from. I have come across similar glasses, but never any that felt like they belonged in my home at a dinner party among friends….until Sunday night.
As we sat sipping tea after a most delicious meal in one of the most highly recommended establishments in town, my friend Margo’s house, the conversation veered off in a multitude of directions. It so happened to venture on to a discussion of wine glasses and my insane desire to have these little Italian bicchieri di vino. I’m a glassware girl and to say I love it would be a huge understatement. There is just something about having the quintessential glass for that special drink that brings so much joy. I realize it’s ridiculous and that there are so many other things in life to ponder and wish for. But this was just one of those little things that wraps itself around your imagination and won’t let go. So as we sat, pondering the ways of life, the words had barely escaped my lips when my girlfriend Sandy responded, “I’ve got some of those glasses and I love them, but I never use them. You are welcome to have them.” I sat with high aspirations that my quest had reached its’ end…and in fact…it had.
After years of peering into windows, perusing the internet, and searching high and low, my perfect Italian wine glasses had arrived. I love when that happens. When divine intervention occurs and what you long for and seek, finds you instead.
Absolutely, one of the best things to do is spend time with my girlfriends, especially on a Friday evening. With my girlios, unpredictability is bound to take over and last night was no different. After a long stressful work week, we decided it was time to blow off some steam.
Just like my mama, I love to entertain and actively seek creative reasons to do so. During a recent Mardi Gras party, my co-host and I were gifted a bottle of Johnny Walker® Black Label® Whiskey. With neither one of us being huge whiskey drinkers, it left me with the exciting challenge of finding the perfect whiskey cocktail. Cue light bulb and brilliant idea ….Happy Whiskey Hour!! In my search, I discovered the most delightful whiskey cocktail, the Black Label® Azucar Morena. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a fruity, sweet, pineapple slice with umbrella on the rim kind of drink. It packs a punch, but in such a surprisingly smooth way.
1.5 oz. Johnny Walker® Black Label®
2 oz. Cream soda
1 Dash of granulated brown sugar
Twist of lime
Typically, the rim of the glass is dipped in vanilla bean infused granulated brown sugar. But this girl didn’t have the time to do that. So instead, I mixed a 50/50 combination of granulated brown sugar and pure cane granulated sugar to rim the glass with instead. To do this, I dipped the rim in a plate holding a bit of the whiskey and then dipped the wet rim into the sugar mixture. It worked perfectly, but I’m excited to try it with the vanilla bean infused brown sugar soon. Into the already rimmed glass, I poured the whiskey and cream soda and served it on the rocks with a twist of lime.
Now for the Happy Mistake! At some point, one of the super huge strawberries that happened to be in a bowl next to the plate holding the brown/white sugar combo. fell into the mixture. Oh my goodness!! I fell in love with the taste!! By simply dipping the strawberry into the sugar mixture, it gave a complexity and heightened sweetness to each bite. Pretty soon, I had whipped up a clean batch of the sugar mixture and we were all scooping a bit of it onto our plates to dip our strawberries into. Not too sweet, not too overpowering….just right!! What a happy mistake it was!
Don’t you love surprises?! The kind that sneak up and take your breath away? My heart swelled tonight when I happened to run into a dear friend that I haven’t seen in such a long time. I truly could not hold back my excitement and flung my arms around him to hold tight to his hug. You see, this friend is one of the select people I called when Mom went into the hospice facility, knowing the bond that the two of them had formed, stemming from a visit back home years before. The thing I remember most about that visit was how appreciated Giovanni made Mom feel. Which is why I called him during a time when we noticed how positively Mom was reacting to voices. I knew that his jovial sound and laughter would make her smile.
We all loved G. Every time I visited my parents, if Mom wasn’t askin’ about G, she was callin’ to play practical jokes on him. They were two peas in a pod from the get go. They had the same sense of humor, enjoyed the same things, could talk about anything and laughed until they managed to have everyone else laughing without any understanding as to why. Being a chef, he and Mom were destined to have a Christmas throwdown on the bayou. Then he’d just as easily shift gears and hunt with Dad, rock on the porch with Mom and go on photo shoots with me all over the ranch . We hit New Orleans by storm, sipping hurricanes and singing until we lost our voices at Pat O’Briens. It was one of the best vacations ever. His thirst for adventure was what drew Mom to him. She had a true appreciation for people who thrived on experiencing everything they possibly could because she was that way herself. G had the ability to make us all laugh and that still remained true, even tonight. This is the type of “good people” that we should all be lucky enough to submerge in our life and share our most treasured moments with.
There are certain people that you know alter the way you look at things. My friends, like G, that brought out the best in Mom and know how unique she was, will always hold a special place in my heart. Every time I see them I am overwhelmed with memories of our experiences shared with my parents and that warms my heart and brings a smile to my face to know that they too, called her Mom. I love that Mama liked my friends so much she wanted to show them what true southern hospitality was all about. I love even more that my friends made Mama feel appreciated and special. She deserved that. She deserved to feel the kind of genuine admiration these amazing people bestowed upon her. That makes me so very proud to be her daughter and equally proud to call them my friends.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot seem to make a cup of coffee as comforting as the one Mama used to make. Even using her coffee machine with her coffee grinds. I simply do not have the knack for it that she did. It’s easy to acknowledge, it remains the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had. There was just something about it. But alas, I continue on my quest to somehow master the skill of the perfect cup of coffee and I have to admit, I came pretty close to it today.
The sweetest of friends surprised me with a delightful collection of Hawaiian coffee this past week and I’ve been dying to try it out. So today, I gave it a go and I must say, it left me desiring the sand between my toes, waves crashing on the shore, and a longing in my heart to move to Hawaii, as if there needs to be another reason to move to a gorgeous tropical island. It was fabulous! I’ve come to realize, as years go by, the little things in life, like the simple generosity of others, way overshadow the former necessity of needing so much more. This one little act of kindness absolutely made my day and reminded me of how blessed I am to be surrounded by the people I share my life with.