Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Girls From Ames, A book Review and Memories

Overview From Barnes and Nobel:

They formed a special bond growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states yet managed to maintain an extraordinary friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious death of the eleventh member of the group. Their remarkable story, which captures what it was like to go from girlhood in the sixties to middle age in the millennium, is a testament to the deep, enduring bonds of women.





I finally finished this book. I am not really sure why it took me so long to read it. It was interesting enough. Not what I would call a great book. Probably won't become one of my favorite books. But it did give me many things to think about while I read it. And there were portions where I laughed out loud. And portions where I read with the tears streaming down my face.

The reason I liked this book is it made me think of my own friendships from over the years. I did NOT remain close to any of my childhood friends, like the girls in this book did. I thought about girls I hadn't thought about in forever.

Like Linda Sue. She was a friend I had when we lived in the housing projects called Victory Heights. We played dolls together. I remember her ripping the pants off my cloth doll 'Helen'. I don't remember why she did it. But I remember the day she did it I lost a bit of my feelings for her. Then we moved away. I see Linda Sue's mom now and then. She always catches me up with is going on in Linda Sue's life. But I haven't talked with Linda Sue since we were kids.

I had several friends who later became girlfriends or wives of my brothers. I can remember Janice, Cris, Susan, Patty and Patty. All became either a girlfriend or a wife of one brother or another. And that tends to ruin friendships.  Except for Crazy Patty. She is still a very good friend.( I named by baby daughter after her) However I don't see or talk to her that often.


Jean
Jean and Palmer
last time she was at my house
Before I went to nursing school my best friend was Jean. We lived on the same street when my oldest son was born. She lived in a house half-way between my apartment and my mom's house. When Danny and I went to see grandma (him seated in the little red wagon and me pulling) Jean and her kids would be on their porch. We smiled and waved and that was about it. It wasn't until my ex returned from the Navy and we moved into our first home that Jean and I became close friends. She was there for me as I went through a divorce. She was there when Richard and I became a couple. And then she moved to Florida. I felt like my world had come to an end. She was my go-to. My sounding board. My strength. My best friend. After she left is when I decided I needed to fill my days with something. So I went to nursing school. We stayed in contact over the years. But the letters and phone calls slowly petered out. As often in the case of long distance friendships. After I graduated from nursing school we went to Florida for a visit. Jean had three kids and I had two. We would talk at Christmas. And see each other when she came home for visits. But we, sadly, didn't remain close.

Gary, Nanne, me in New Mexico
I had several other good friends during my nursing years. There was Marsha, Susan, Karla, and others. But I also met Nanne at this time of my life. She was a traveling nurse who worked a short time at the same hospital where I worked. Nanne and I didn't hit it off right from the start. But one night, while talking with her, I learned of her struggles with prescription pain medications and how it had affected her life. This was after we had learned our oldest son was a drug addict. Nanne helped me understand drug  
addiction in ways no one else had been able to. After Nanne left Hutchinson and moved on in her career we stayed in close contact through telephone calls and visits. Richard and I visited almost every town she had an assignment in. In fact, it was during one of these visits, in Kalispell, Montana, I broke my leg! We were planning another trip to see Nanne and Gary. They were living in Gallup, New Mexico. Richard had always wanted to take a train trip. We were going in February, 2008 to see them. Nanne called me on New Year's Eve. They were in Mississipi seeing her dad. We talked about our pending visit. Both of us were excited. On the evening of January 7, I was at work and received a call from Nanne's son, Josh. Nanne had suffered a massive heart attack and had been taken to the hospital. She was in serious condition on a ventilator. Before I could make the arrangments to go to her, she died. A piece of my heart died with her that night. I felt I had lost more than a best friend.

Then in May, 2008, I received word that Jean had gone into the hospital for gallbladder surgery and had died! Talk about a double whammy in 2008. Devastating losses of two of the best friends I have ever had. I miss them both. I talk to them on occasion. I know they are both my guardian angels.

I still have good friends. One of the best is Rozann. I hold her close to my heart. I know how friendships can slip away in the blink of an eye. That is what this book reminded me of. My past good friends. My present good friends. And how sometimes friendships slip away for reason that are not always in our control. People come and people go through out lives for a variety of reasons.

How about your good friends? What kinds of memories do you have? Are you still in touch with those from your childhood?

18 comments:

  1. My name is Linda Sue also! I was always in class in school with many Lindas over the years. And 2 others lived on our street. We ALWAYS knew which Mom was calling who - LOL! I mainly hung out with the girl who lived right next door to us. We did things together all through high school and a bit after - until I moved away. I kept in touch with her for awhile after that via letters and emails. But now, just see her on Facebook postings. My other close friend Kathy - we also kept in touch through high school and years after. She has a son who is stationed here near me. So on one of her visits, we hope to see each other!

    Linda in VA

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    1. My generation saw a lot of Linda's! I am glad to have you now as my current Linda Sue, friend! I haven't found any school friends on Facebook. Guess I am happy with the way my life is now!

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  2. I've reconnected with a high school best friend--when we first got together, we reminisced but when we got together again we re-established our friendship as adults. It was wonderful.

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    1. That is wonderful Kwiz! There are a couple of people I would like to re-connect with!

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  3. Lifelong friends are the best. I was thinking today how much it sucked that we moved around so much during my elementary school years. Seems many of the bonds were formed in those earlier grades and by the time I joined the group I'd go to middle school with, it was fifth grade.

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    1. That would be a problem for a family who moved around a lot. We didn't move a lot. But there were things going on in my very dysfunctional family that it did not lend itself to developing friendships!

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  4. It's been so long; 'thinking I need to re-read this book. Mostly, I recall feeling really (really) wistful for lasting friendships such as theirs.
    I'm so sorry for the loss of your 'other selves', Jean and Nanne. I like that you said you still talk to them; that they're your guardian angels.

    Me? Sure, and there's a host of reasons - nothing novel - why we (I've) drifted apart from olden friends. Lucky, both my grade-school and h.s. besties and I've reconnected on Facebook. But what's funny/odd/sad? Kathy, Liz and I aren't not so close now ... but others with whom I shared classrooms ... little more (they were part of the 'cool' group) - and I have become pretty tight. Patty and I almost reconnected in person last Fall. Inevitably, I'm sure we still might ... but I'm nervous all the same. What if it doesn't click, the way in which we share online?

    Perhaps my biggest regret is having lost ties with Sheri ... that special soul-mate from my wild and crazy 20's, who'd sneak us into the Officers Club at Dyess AFB each Friday night and who introduced me to the fellow I'd go onto marry one day. Unfortunately, she hooked up with a fellow and a group who forced her to forego all relationships other than theirs. Years later I found her online and called. Tho' she'd freed herself from her controlling spouse, our conversation just felt 'off.' Too much water under the bridge, I suppose. Still, there's times I grieve for what might have been. Ya know?

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    1. That is exactly what the book did for me, Myra. Made me wistful! It is sad that we drift apart from those we were once so close to. Now I feel closet to my blogging buddies. Just so easy to make friends and stay connected here. I would probably be nervous too to meet some of you all, but what fun we would have all getting together to get to know each other in person. Jean was that crazy soul-mate from my wild and crazy 20's. There are some crazy memories there for sure!! I do know exactly what you mean

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    2. Ditto - but damn! - the nerves.
      I'm really counting on meeting you someday - we can eat too much junk, drink too much red wine and try on silly hats!

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  5. Sounds like an interesting book; I'll have to look for it. I do admire those that have had friends for a very long time. Since we moved around so much, I have had good friends but then when we move, even though we say we will stay in touch, it rarely (never) happens. I do think about those friends over the years and wonder how they are doing.

    betty

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    1. I find it hard to stay in touch with friends from long ago too, Betty. Maybe that is why I cherish my internet friends so much. Because no matter where I am, where I go, or where you go we can always stay in touch like this!!

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  6. I believe that God puts people in our lives for a reason. Perhaps they need us or we need them or we both need each other. That reason can last for 10 minutes, 10 weeks, 10 years or a lifetime. I believe that God blessed me the day he put you into my life.

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    1. Thank you so much Wendy! I feel just as blessed!!

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  7. Maybe that's why it took you so long to get through the book. It reminded you of so much, so you needed the time to digest it.

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    1. I think I knew that about half way through the book Liz!

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  8. I am close friends with a small handful of girls that i went to high school with and that i worked with when i was in college. I found my best friend from grade school a few years ago and it was very awkward. She had had a rough life and maybe she blocked out those years. I would talk about all these very specific memories i had and she didnt. There are a few i'm still looking for on FB but havent found them yet.
    I am happy to have you in my internet circle of friends girlie!!

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    1. I so totally understand that Hollie. My childhood was not ideal. I have completely different memories from my brothers and sister. I have often wondered whose memories are the 'real' ones. I am just not looking for those childhood friends anymore. I am happy with what I now have. And I am thrilled you are in my internet circle too!

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