A Best Friend Just Gets You!

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I worked hand-in-hand with my best friend for 26 years…I retired first…and when she finally retired…I had a lot to say!

It seems like I’ve known her forever!  To this day, it has been a very cherished friendship.  When I retired, here’s what she said about working with me:

“We graduated at the same time from college, but we didn’t meet until five years later when she was hired as my maternity leave replacement.  This was the beginning of a cherished friendship. Here we are 25 years later…she’s retiring and I’m still working!  What’s wrong with this picture?

What an impression I must have made sitting at the table in the Home Economics room, with my feet up on the chair with the 12 girls in the class coming to me for help on their sewing projects. This job was a piece of cake, is
that what you thought? Those were definitely the good old days (before we had boys in our classes!  Ha!).  I had a few days to orient her with the classroom, curriculum, the up-coming fashion show that we put on in those days, and the procedure for purchasing groceries at the local A&P.  Teaching in Sussex County, on that first trip back from the grocery store we had to stop and wait for the cows to cross the road. This was a new experience for the girl from suburbia!  Bet you didn’t know that was in your job description!

Did you know that she’s is a cooking teacher, but doesn’t cook? Her husband does most of the cooking.  Thirty years ago we never dreamed that we would be teaching 25-30 students at one time in 5 tiny little kitchens. I don’t know what we were thinking!  Cook, clean, wash dirty towels, keep up with inventory, etc., all day at work, then go home and keep doing it!  But, now, we’re no longer called Home Ec. teachers, we’ve graduated to Family and
Consumer Science teachers.

Our profession and job has certainly changed a lot in a quarter of a century. It’s a good thing that we are so flexible! Because, the administration decided that we were even flexible and knowledgeable enough to teach computers without any real training. But we were thankful to have a job!  Since they were always telling us our job would be the first to go with budget cuts.

Of course, like any long-term friendship we had a few snags along the way. My over-active thyroid probably caused the first. It seems that I was pretty hard to get along with and that my normally sweet nature was replaced by unpredictable outbursts. And your many menopausal symptoms and mood swings have at times been
very trying also. Some days the room felt like the North Pole, both in temperature and atmosphere. I hope you had a heavy-duty air conditioner installed in your new Florida home.

I can’t imagine what it will be like coming back in September and not having you there!  E-mail us a few pictures of your newly built FL home completely finished, since we’ve seen a thousand black and white printer copies at every stage of construction!  By the way, does anyone know if there is an available ink cartridge in the building? Ours seems to have been used up completely by the copies of your house taped on the wall behind your desk!

I guess you won’t be needing your multitude of precious sticky note reminders anymore…Period 8 put up chairs…Do lesson plans, Get groceries…Order supplies…and Start wash to remind you of things at school.  Or, Pay the bills…Call your Mother…Pick up your son on the way home.

Here’s a list of things that I know you will not miss:

Wearing the aroma of Peanut Butter Cookies

The ‘Stop, Drop, and Roll’ safety video

Constantly repeating directions

Ordering and shopping for food

Bulletin boards and display cases

Lunch Duty

Constant interruptions from other teachers/staff…”Do you have … ?  May I borrow … ? I’ll bring it right back …

Organizing parent volunteers

The nauseating smell of someone brewing Hazelnut coffee in our classroom

I know this is your Recipe for a Happy Retirement:

Sleep late

Write stories and books

Relax by the pool

Eat out

We love you…you made a difference in all our lives!”

Does she Get Me, or what???

So, what was it like teaching with her!  Here’s my “retirement-rebuttal-roast” to her when she finally retired!!

She has always been a happy, smiling, wonderfully encouraging friend.  If she likes you, she lights up with a smile and a kind word the minute she sees you!

Then one day, out of nowhere, her thyroid decides to stop functioning and the best friend I knew and loved, LEFT for one whole year!!

In her place was a mean, arrogant, aggressive ogre!  Where had my sweet, loving friend gone?!?  We all still blame her that year for causing our other dear friend to have a heart attack!  He’s ok, but…Yikes!  All about disagreements over the Computer Curriculum.  Can you imagine?

Well, maybe we shouldn’t go there!!  Because, after a difficult year of praying for the right medicine adjustments for her, and just trying to stay out of her way, my sweet friend returned.  Yippee!

My husband asked her years ago, when she was going to retire…and, because she has two daughters, she told him she had two weddings she had to pay for before she could even think about retiring.  So he said, “Well, you should have had a plan!”  With that, coffee came pouring out of her nose, all over her desk, and she struggled to say, “This is my plan, working forever!”  So she’s retiring now, since her girls are married off!   Thank God…before she becomes one of those…you know…the ones who don’t know when it’s time to go!

Oh, P.S.-don’t worry about the spilled, snotty coffee all over her desk, it will eventually just disappear under the debris!  You can’t find a thing in that rat trap!!

Here’s her filing system:

A.   Day 1 of school in September-Take the empty, clean, cleared off desk, move it in place, load all papers, books, mail, folders, thread, needles, cooking tools, potholders, sewing projects, cards, money, buttons, markers, scissors, videos, dishtowels, memos, pencils, pens, food supplies, and grocery lists on top.  Keep piling ‘til last day of school.

If you ever saw her desk, you’d understand.   Some teachers freaked out, if they had to cover her class…we all stayed clear of that desk!

B.   Keep everything from your entire thirty-something years of teaching in your desk drawers.  Never, ever throw out anything!

C.  Day 124 of the teacher’s school year-Take your right arm, swish it across the desk sending everything into a big, kitchen garbage can!  Wheel the huge can of debris to the dumpster!

D.  Start over in September!

You gotta love that system!!  No sticky notes in sight!  Knows where everything is!  It’s all in that brilliant mind of hers!!  Wow!

My best friend is very easy-going and laid back, and since she had her children before I had my child, she taught me to apply that attitude to nutrition, housecleaning, and child rearing.  For instance, the time I had lunch at her house and her youngest daughter was licking Kool-Aid off the dining room table.   No problem!  She taught me never to be concerned about dust in the house, says, “Don’t disturb it, it’s good for the furniture!”  And, also, that Chocolate Chip Pie was okay to have for lunch, because you might not have room for it after eating…so better to have it before, or even instead of lunch!

It’s been very easy, and such a blessing over the years to be friends with this God-fearing woman…deacon of her church, who taught me so many important, sacred, life-changing phrases, like “Sometimes life sucks!”  I don’t think I’d have made it this far without her wit and easy laugh!!  That laugh (Well, really a cackle!) that you can hear all the way down the hall!!

I’m glad we ended up in the same crazy profession, teaching the same crazy subject, and most of the time working in the same crazy room.  No wonder I don’t cook, it’s overload!!  But it was a great ride and she always made the journey fun, and sometimes downright hilarious!  I miss it all, and wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Dear friend…you made a difference in all our lives, and we are all better for knowing you.

If there’s anything I forgot to mention, it’s because I’m four years into retirement now myself, and I don’t have to tax my brain any more when I don’t feel like it!!  You’re going to love that part, too!!  I’m enjoying my “Recipe for Retirement”…thanks!I  Miss you and I’ll always call you my very special friend!

With all that constant friendship and companionship over the years, you can really see that we “Get” each other!

Now, stop and go listen to “You Get Me” by Zoegirl on their With All My Heart album.

Jesus is our Best Friend.

We must develop that constant friendship and companionship with Him also.

So we can say,

“Lord, you get me!”

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