Twenty-five years ago, I was a newly-published author. Though my publishing career didn't last much longer--a mere three books-worth--it left me with something I value much more than money: a dear, dear friend. That year, I judged her manuscript in a national contest and, admiring her skill, attached some notes about what I felt would strengthen her book. (I blush now, looking back, at how inflated my ego was on the sale of one book to think I knew so much about what publishers wanted in a ms.) Kathy, as proper as I came to know her to be, wrote a lovely thank you note. Silly me, I thought she wanted to be my friend so I replied and we began a correspondence, which we've continued in one form or another ever since. We didn't meet face to face for another fifteen years--she lived near Seattle, and at the time I lived near Dallas. Now we have a standing ritual of speaking together every Sunday. Not much ever gets in the way of my conversations with Kathy.
Next week, she'll be eighty, and she wears her age with the grace of the lady she is. I only hope I can wear it as well myself when I reach that age
Kathy and I rarely exchange gifts anymore. Occasionally she'll send me something she's made, usually the result of something new she's trying, and occasionally I do the same for her. This year, it's a product of needle-felting, her having introduced me to the technique. In respect of her talents as a couture-level seamstress, this is my offering this year: a make-do pincushion, from a crystal clock minus its workings, and a needle book.
So when we speak of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings, don't ever let's forget dear, dear friends.