Monday, December 24, 2007

The Winds of Change

It's like we'd never been apart. Twenty-plus years vanished like my
grandmother's caramel cake on Christmas day.

It began ominously. Hurricane Wilma, churning in the Caribbean, rapidly whipped into a 185 mile-an-hour monster before making a sharp right turn across the Yucatan Peninsula on her way to an October 26, 2005 date with the Southwest Florida coastline.

The storm-wearying year of 2004 (Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne) had frayed our nerves. Unable to evacuate to a local shelter because we refused to leave our adopted dog, Molly to fend for herself, we huddled in a middle closet in our stick-built patio home in South Fort Myers as category-four Charley, small but deadly, took direct aim. For some unexplained meteorological reason, Charley literally bounced off Sanibel Island and changed directions from east to north, sparing us a direct hit. We would, for the next six weeks, prepare for a major hurricane every other weekend.

Okay, back to Wilma. The hurricane exited the Yucatan and that ominous line forecasters use to mark the "area of probability" headed straight for us. We didn't want to stick around should she regain her category 5 strength.

My husband was traveling at the time, and had business in Atlanta. We made the decision to pack the car with as many valuables as we could and head north. But, before we left, I e-mailed my friend, Cynthia, who lived in Woodstock, to let her know we were going to be in the area for as many days as necessary. My childhood friend and I made hurried plans to get together once we were settled.

I hadn't seen Cynthia in more than twenty years. My marriage, divorce and second (final!) marriage and her marriage and nursing career had taken us in vastly different directions. We hadn't corresponded for years until a classmate started a website dedicated to the class of '65 complete with pictures and e-mail addresses.

Long-story-short (Oops! Too late for that!), the night after our arrival in Atlanta, we met at the home of Cynthia and her husband, Ian. After a 20-minute hug, my dear friend and I talked and laughed like we did all those years ago while playing in Cynthia's attic.

My husband and I also decided, during our evacuation to Atlanta, that we'd relocate to West Georgia. Probably the best decision we ever made. What began as a traumatic event not only brought the "winds of change" but the renewal of a life-long friendship.

I am, once again, spending Christmas Day with Cynthia, and even though we're long past comparing dolls, bicycles, roller skates, and board games, our easy, enduring friendship is the same whether we're sitting comfortably on her sunporch sofa or cross-legged on her attic floor.

For those of you still reading, I wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday Season, and Spectacular 2008!


Janet Grace Riehl said...

Mary, lovely story of reunification. We need these links backward and forward in our lives. I'm glad you have these links, these connections, in yours.

I have a little Christmas Eve memory on Riehlife today about my brother, at 13, taking a step into manhood, if you'd like to read that one.

Janet Riehl

Thister said...

I know the truth. You evacuated because you ran out of Amaretto!

Seriously, that picture sure brings back memories not only of Cynthia and her family, but of holidays back in Corydon. Was everything really black & white...

I like to think so...Nice and simple.

Holiday hugs, Thister

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks, Janet. I feel blessed to have a reconnection with a childhood friend.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Mary Cunningham said...

Okay, Thisther, You caught me! The Amaretto shortage was a factor!

Glad I brought back some Corydon memories. For all of you non-Corydonites, that's our hometown; mine, Cynthia's and Thisther's (Diana). I feel so lucky to be within 30 miles of you both!

Holiday hugs back!

Grace E. Howell said...

We love those lookbacks. Thanks, Mary! Have a great holiday and a happy new year.


Church Lady said...

What a beautiful story. I can't imagine seeing a best friend after all those years. A 20 minute hug sounds about right!
I'm so happy you've reconnected with the roots that brought you happiness.

Mary Cunningham said...

Thanks Church and Grace. Our living so close together after all these years was just meant to be.

Btw, Christmas day was great! We had so much fun. Hope yours was good, too.

Word said...

I loved reading this story and getting a little snippet of your life! Very heartwarming. You are in a wonderful "life place" right now and it is such a uplifting experience to see how you are able to take full advantage of all life has given you. Mary - I've said it before but I'll say it again - I wanna be just like you when I grow up ;-) YOU ROCK!

Mary Cunningham said...

Awww, Word, you made my day! Thanks, but I think you'll be just great if you grow up to be you! Warm, witty, creative! I'm blessed to know my Creative Cafe sisters!