Carolina: Cruising Past 70: OLA: Cultivating and Celebrating Friendships

Monday, October 22, 2012

OLA: Cultivating and Celebrating Friendships

Bill gave his ID bracelet to this 1st Carol in his life, not knowing he will end up with a last Carol, with 2 Judys in between!
Afterglow at the Simpsons
One of the disadvantages of the fulltime RVing is that we create distance from family and friends. So Bill was definitely excited to get to Pittsburg, Kansas for his high school Class of ’62 50th reunion on Sept. 6-9 (please see And that’s just after we met with some of Bill's high school friends, in Antigonish, Nova Scotia last July (please see Most of my friends are back in the Philippines but I have met a whole new world of people after migrating to the US and, especially, after marrying Bill. Our cruising lifestyle gave me a few new friends. But most of them we don’t see again. The wonder of Facebook allows me to keep my connections to friends and family elsewhere around America and the world, but most especially in the Philippines which ranks among the most avid users of social media. So celebrations of friendship are much awaited events!

the ladies showing off all their rings
after Terry gave me that humongous cetrine ring!
having fun with the dancing witch's broom!
The Reunion was a major success and the ‘Afterglow’, the party of the hardworking organizers after the event was itself a great celebration. The Simpsons hosted the affair at their lovely home literally filled with fall d├ęcor. As a matter of fact, a dancing witch’s broom contributed immensely to the pre-Halloween spirit. After the numbers report, a reading of emails shared congratulations and expressions of gratitude from many. As a matter of fact, the blog I posted on the event counted almost 300 page views, ranking today as one of my top 10 most popular posts. For me, the highlight of the evening was when Terry Simpson took the chunky citrine (alternative to topaz as my birthstone) ring she was wearing so gloriously on her finger all night and gave it to me without hesitation. I was so touched. So what got to me was this…these were Bill’s high school classmates but they made me feel part of the group, even though I contributed very little to the work. 

friends gathered at our Dock!
the Unbearables at the Docks
During a 2-hour hiatus from the many reunion events (there were 6), the we held a small gathering at the Docks’ home for a little tete-a-tete with a few high school friends.We served light appetizers (dimsum, fruits, cheese, crackers, and brownies) since we expected everyone to be full after a lunch event and before the Gala Night.  After the last event on Sunday, the brunch at Corner Bistro, we were also invited to a late lunch of smoked salmon and grilled burgers at the lovely home of Peggy Harth at the classy part of Pittsburg, Kansas.  Bill’s very first girlfriend, Carol (who strikes some resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor), was also there. As you all know his last may also be another Carol. Then, at last, Bill's life will have  become bookended by two pretty Carols with two pretty Judys in between! 

the group at Peggy Harth's deck
the colors of Kris' table
And then Oliver Becker, Bill’s college fraternity (Sigma Chi) brother messaged and commented on our status updates of blog and album posts on Facebook. He invited us to lunch at his lovely home in Kansas City. Wow, I got to meet Kris, his lovely wife who prepared a gourmet lunch with all the colors of a painter’s palette (special chicken salad with corn in large deliciously red tomato bowls and a special green salad with a great tasting dressing. No wonder…Kris majored in art and previously taught it. We had lunch at the gorgeous sun room that Ollie himself built upon retirement. They had just returned from a 2-month stay in Europe and I marveled at the coffee table book of their photos fashioned out of a software. I should be able to do that with our photos, too! Then I found out that the friendship will definitely continue since she is also a WWF (Words with Friends) fan-'atic'. 
Bill, Kris, and Ollie
the happy group of Sigma Chi
Ollie didn’t forget to invite us to the OctoberFest they hosted in their home. We were supposed to return to Pittsburg on the 7th but we came a day earlier to attend this party of former college fraternity brothers of Bill. There were all kinds of bratwursts, coded with little toothpicks of different colors, yellow for garlic, red for cheese, etc. And the beer and wine flowed. This was all Kris’ handiwork again! And her sister made the irresistible trifles for a very ‘German’ dessert. Many of the fraternity brothers married their college sweethearts most of whom were also members of a sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma. I didn’t drink a drop but as the night progressed, I felt so comfortable with the group that we had quadrupled the required 700 laughs a day. Every line from any one was followed by giddy laughter. It was like college all over again. I felt young…and accepted…as a friend!

the frat brothers meet again after 45 years! 
After all, what is friendship without good-natured humor? And, although I still regularly miss my longtime ‘barkada’ (gang of friends, not thieves) in Manila, I enjoyed myself thoroughly that night. We are bound to find many ‘barkadas’ wherever we go as long as our hearts are open to the joy of friendship. For what are friendships but cultivated gardens bursting with celebratory harvests of fun? Life is certainly a series of cultivating and celebrating friendships!