In Boulder, where I spent the last forty years before moving to Bellingham, I had a career and a full life. I started going to a folk dancing group in 1980 and met some women I really liked. We decided to start a group together, and that first night, back in June 1981, seven of us got together in Diane's home. That was the beginning of a more-than-two-decade-long wonderful journey. The only thing we had in common was that all of us enjoyed folk dancing. The cake above was decorated with a picture of the seven of us, twenty years after we started meeting.
We had only one rule: if you had the women to your house, it was your job to provide the entire meal, with the guests providing the wine. You would cook, serve, and clean up, and the others would be treated to an event where they were completely catered to. It worked perfectly. We did this once a month for 26 years, starting with seven of us, and then we were six, and then we were five. We talked about adding others, but we never did. This is about those women.
In 1982, this picture was taken (with Helen missing), with us pretending we were really stuck up. Marilyn is first, the oldest of us, then Peggy. Judy comes next, then me, and with her nose really up in the air, Diane. And Lynn, who "ruined" the picture my smiling, comes last.
We got together once a month so every seventh month you were the host, until Judy moved off to Oregon to begin a bed and breakfast with her sister. For many months we would get an update about how things were going in her part of the world, and then gradually we stopped hearing from her regularly. In 1998, she flew back from Oregon to attend the funeral of Helen, who died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Helen had gone to school (she was an elementary school teacher) and collapsed after hours. She was gone that very night. We miss her to this day.
This is the earliest picture taken of us, in 1981. In the front row are Lynn and Helen, and the four of us in the back are Peggy, Diane, Marilyn, and me, with long hair and in a skirt. Judy is missing from this picture. We all had family and friends and we would not always make every gathering, but during those years, we got together and talked about our love life, our kids, our jobs, books we were reading, and whatever else was important to us at the time.
Even when we stopped going dancing, we still got together and had a group that never stopped being a vital part of our lives. We had births and deaths, children and grandchildren, weddings and divorces, and everything in between. I couldn't remember exactly when we started getting together, so I called Marilyn just before I started writing this post. We reminisced, I told her I would be writing this, I caught up on the gossip, and we exchanged our latest books for the other to put on her list.
Sometimes there are parts of our lives that continue on, even after the end has come and gone. I will never think of these women as anything other than my sisters of the heart.