A friend’s grandson just turned 1 and I went to his birthday party. I was talking to her daughter’s (the baby’s mother) father-in-law and Ellen (my friend) said to him, “Fransi and I have known each other all our lives.” He was intrigued and wanted to know more.
Our mothers met in the laundry room of the apartment building where they both lived, in Montreal. I was an infant. Her parents were newlyweds. The women became friends and, as often happens, they introduced their husbands. What ensued was a friendship that lasted until death did them part.
From that moment in the laundry room the couples spent every Saturday night together. The women saw each other several times a week for lunch and other assorted female-oriented activities and spoke to each other every day. Quickly the relationship extended to include my aunts, uncles, grandparents and other friends.
Nothing interfered with their friendship. Not the fact that they all had some very different interests and hobbies. Not the death of my father and then, a few years later, Ellen’s dad. Not when my mother moved to Toronto. And even after my mom died, I continued to speak to Ellen’s mother and saw her whenever I visited Montreal or she came here.
The truth is, they had crossed over from being friends, and had become ‘family.’
After university Ellen married and she and her husband lived all over the world, while I moved to Toronto. But we were kept up to date on each other’s lives by our parents. When my mother died Ellen wrote me a long, beautiful letter. By then she and her husband were living in Delhi, India. Their children, who I’d never met, were off living their own lives elsewhere.
In her letter she mentioned I should come for a visit to India. It’s funny because I had long wanted to go but had never done anything about it. She inspired me and I planned a trip. I was only in Delhi for two days, but I spent much of them with her and her husband. And we’ve kept in touch ever since.
They’re back in Canada now, and living in Ottawa. I see them whenever they’re here. I’ve met their son, who recently moved to Vancouver, and I see their daughter, son-in-law and grandson every few months, usually for brunch.
Interestingly, no one makes me think more of my parents then Ellen does. I’m sure it’s the connection between her mother and father and mine. It just goes back so far and runs so deep. Their lives were intertwined for as long as I’ve been ‘me’. So many memories.
How lucky we all are that the two couples were a part of each other’s lives for so long. And how wonderful it is to know their friendship lives on in my friendship with Ellen and her family.
Sadly, we live in a time when everything has built-in obsolescence. It’s so good to know some things, the really important things, can last forever.