. . . But Everyone Knew
Another blogger using the words "my friend" in a farewell to southern California this week, inspired a story for me as I sat before the computer with a blank stare - writer's block they call it.
I am taken back to sometime late in 1991. My spouse of 45 years had been taken from me earlier that year after a series of heart attacks.
She had been close to another member of the local genealogical society and of course I also was acquainted with this person.
Perhaps not a popular decision with my children at the time, I dated my deceased spouse's friend for companionship, dancing and occasional traveling.
I had already retired from my fulltime employment as a newspaper reporter and editor but I was still producing a "column"
for the same newspaper.
I am not sure when it first happened but one column referred to "my friend." Another column used the same identification and then still another. By then the reference was, I think, somewhat annoying to my friend .
I was considering that a continuance of the refeerences would end the friendship I was enjoying but for some reason I carried on. My friend eventually got used to being identified as such and I felt better about it.
My friend let it be known to me somewhere along the line that it didn't matter much anymore because "everyone knows who you are talking about anyway." I assume that by now you've guessed my friend was a she.
Some readers of the column asked me who my friend was but I never gave a name. Then came the time when my friend reached the age where she was eligible for the government program called social security.
I decided to surprise her with a happy birthday greeting ad in the newspaper. I went into the composing room at the paper and chatted with my friend Pepper about composing an appropriate greeting.
By the way, ironically, Pepper is a lady who as a young girl lived across the street from me in my Massachusetts hometown, and who had settled in Hobbs after meeting and marrying an oil firm executive while serving as an airline attendent. She's still here, president of the local Community Players Theater.
Pepper offered a few ideas and one hit me as "the best" - a framed picture. But this frame would not contain a picture but instead a greeting which brought the loud exclamation from Pepper "You're gonna get killed" when I dictated what was to be put into the frame:
"WELCOME TO SOCIAL SECURITY MY FRIEND"
Within hours of the newspaper's publication, "my friend's" phone was ringing off the hook with happy birthday greetings from her former schoolteaccher associates, church members, friends of her deceased husband of 43 years and lots of others who had guessed her identity even if they didn't know her.
"My friend" didn't get upset with me. She later married me. We're in love.
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