Today, my friend Sam turns 60. It’s a momentous day, isn’t it? And yet, the most important thing about it is — Sam is timeless. Priceless.
Sam and I have been friends since — we’re not sure when. My family moved into the neighborhood where hers lived during the summer when we were both three. We attended the same kindergarten, but I went mornings, and she went afternoons. We began first grade together. We played in the same backyards, swung on the same “Tarzan” ropes,” climbed the same trees. I remember the first time — I think it was the first — I was at her house. Her younger brother threw his shoe up the stair steps, & it came straight into Sam’s bedroom, and crashed into the side of my face & glasses – breaking the frame. I think we were probably about 10 or 11. Broken glasses were kind of a big deal then. I felt bad for him. His Mom yelled at him. Sam beat the crap out of him.
But I think we really bonded most around age 13. We survived parochial grade school together, and then the transition to the: Ta-Da! Sound of trumpets: public high school. We walked across town to school together. We talked a lot on those walks. We discovered boys together. Having gone to parochial grade school, boys had been just kids that Sam beat up — until we were in high school. We realized they were kind of cute then.
Sam fell in love. Just as importantly, the boy she fell in love with fell right back in love with her. That was back in about 1969… They’re still together. Married more than forty years, three children, three grandchildren later. Still in love. More in love than ever.
After high school, after Sam & The Boyfriend’s wedding, I moved away. Then I moved farther away. The distance never mattered. The time apart never mattered. I can say anything I want to Sam. We can sit in silence for hours. I would trust Sam with my life. I hope she knows she could trust me with hers — and I’m 99.9% sure she knows that.
Sam is the kind of friend that everybody should have. I’m really not sure everyone is as lucky as I am. Sam is unique, special, crotchety in the funniest way possible, caring, funny, tough, strong, sensitive, and a great cheerleader. She also doesn’t hesitate to tell me when I’m not acting my best. I love her for that just as much as I love her for listening, for being there, and for making me laugh so hard I pee my pants.
Back in those parochial grade school days, I remember one scene vividly. There we were on the playground — just a black-topped area, with no playground equipment or toys. The girls in the sixth grade or so stood together in a group at recess. One girl, a tough girl, confrontational, a stir-the-pot-girl, with a glint in her eye, said to Sam, “Your family is POOR!” Silence. Sam didn’t hesitate. She didn’t look sad, or embarrassed. She was strong. She said, so matter of fact, “So was Jesus.”
I could tell you so many more great stories about Sam, and her wonderful family, but are more really needed?
Sam. Strong. Smart. Clever. Wise. Witty. Friend.
I am so blessed.
Happy Birthday, Sam. I love you.