Until I was ten years old, I lived in a house on Pelmo Crescent and walked to Pelmo Park Public School every day. I had a robust circle of friends: Andrea, Shelly, Nanette, Guy, Julie, Cynthia, Danny and many others who played with me at recess and came to my birthday parties. It was among those friends that I learned to tie my shoes, sing my ABC’s and jump rope. It was alongside them, in tidy rows of green metal desks, that I struggled to learn my times tables and dared write my first lines of poetry. It was in their company that I squealed my way through countless games of kissing tag and suffered my first real injury, breaking my arm on the soccer field.
I was devastated when my parents announced that we were moving. I cried for days. I lamented for months. I was set adrift in a new school, friendless and afraid. I was never the same.
Of course, I eventually recovered. It took a long time but I settled in, made friends, moved on. But I always carried a wound from being wrenched away from my then life-long friends. In the back of my mind I always wondered: what happened to those friends? Where did they end up? How did their lives change and grow? Then Facebook came along.
Through Facebook I managed to find some of those friends from Pelmo Park, thrilling at each little piece of information I discovered. Some have stayed in Weston; some have gone farther afield. Some have married, some have not. Some have children, some have grandchildren. Seeing their photos was a strange surprise compared to my thirty-year old memories of their toothy childhood smiles and loud 70’s pantsuits.
One of the happiest reconnections has been with N. Although I never would have guessed all those years ago, we have grown up to share much in common: church, children, a love of music and singing. We follow each other’s lives with interest.
I was deeply honoured when N., who has been following my blog, sent me a beautiful garden prayer. It is a gift that I cherish not just because of the words themselves, but because it is rooted in the warmth of renewed friendship. It connects me to my past. Somehow, it begins to redeem the pain of my childhood goodbyes. I want to share it with you, with gratitude for the many friends that come into and out of our lives.
Garden Meditation by Rev. Max Coots
Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:
For generous friends…with hearts…and smiles as bright as their blossoms;
For feisty friends, as tart as apples;
For continuous friends who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us that we’ve had them;
For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and others as plain as potatoes and so good for you;
For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;
And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages, and subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter;
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;
And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter.
For all these we give thanks.