Happy Birthday, Paula

Today is my best friend Paula’s birthday. We met almost twenty-six years ago when her future husband decided it was time to introduce her to us, his friends from public school (Philip) and high school (me). She retells the story the same way every time of how stressful it was to meet The Philip and Deb, and how she wondered if she would ever fit in.

Let me tell you, she fit in in more ways than you could ever imagine one friend ever fitting into your life. She has become my kids’ second mom. She’s the one who accompanies us when it’s time to purchase the all important suit or dress for prom or graduation. She’s the decorator of their bedrooms. Her opinion matters. She’s the one who frets about them when they are away at school or sick. She’s a worrier. I’m glad she worries for my family. She doesn’t have to, but it’s nice to  know she thinks that much about us that she gives herself grey hairs, worry lines and ulcers over us. That is a true sign of love.

Paula is our social director. When she wants to holiday, all she has to do is make the arrangements and we will tag along. Once again, we let her stress over making the plans – we’re happy to be invited. We share the load though. We make sure that the conversation is always flowing (don’t get Philip and Paula started on the heavy stuff). We can talk sports and music to keep Paul happy. I can usually follow Paula’s train of thought without her using the right words. I’ve developed a knack for being a Paula interpreter. I’ve learned to discuss fashion and interior design. Amazing – I know!

With Paula, there is no pretense. Dinners are always informal gatherings. Last minute invitations, a pooling of food and wine. There is always enough to share.

Our friendship is like a comfy sweater worn throughout the years. It gives warmth and comfort when needed and suits us perfectly, holes and all. It’s a big sweater –our children share it too and treasure it.

One day, I was out shopping with Caitlin and we saw two elderly ladies who were obviously dear friends by the way they were talking to each other. Their hair was dyed – bright red and blonde, I think. Their makeup was plastered on and their clothing was way too young for them. They were looking at shoes with five-inch heels. They were having fun and they were oblivious to the stares focused on them. When we are older, and our hair is dyed bolder than it is today, and our clothes are more a reflection of our sanity than our fashion sense, I hope Paula and I are just like them.

Happy Birthday, dear friend.

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