Patti always signs off with 'Age is just a number.'
     And she's right. The number that matters to me when I think of her is 46 years of friendship. I met Patti in junior high, and unlike other fleeting relationships, ours has endured through high school and beyond. Blonde and petite, she has always been a force - full of energy, fun, and an unwavering sweet spirit.    
     She was my ride pretty much everywhere during our teen years, and though I don't remember ever offering her gas money (so sorry about that Patti) or remember her asking for it, I could never forget her cars. 

      There was the little white Nova with rubber water-bumpers on the front and back that were designed to absorb impact - look out Larch Mountain, here she comes! 
     Her next car was a very yellow convertible that had been used to ferry Portland royalty in our Rose Festival Parade. Petite as she was, she'd have to push the seat up as far as it could go just to reach the pedals, and even then it would've been a stretch without the sky-high wedgies she wore. She'd put the top down, and we'd Rose-Festival wave at our imagined admirers on Halsey Street which ran straight through our stomping grounds and right by the high school. 
     Next, came the shiny red convertible in cherry condition when she bought it, but not so much when she was finished with it. In one memorable car after another, she drove us through the eight-track tape years, taking us everywhere we wanted to go and plenty of places we shouldn't have gone. - Rock and roll music to the world! - and never mind 'ten years after' - forty years after, I remember every day of it.   
     Our senior year, we worked together at a dry cleaners. Most nights we were left to blow the boiler down, count the till, and lock up shop, but before we did any of that, one of us would walk across the parking lot and fetch beans and broken shells from Taco Bell, leaving me with an affection for that combo to this day. 
     She was my first roommate after graduation and then again a few years later. After that, our lives diverged, her's going one way, mine going another. Both of us went on to make our own questionable decisions and to suffer the consequences, each in our own way, but during those years that we were weaving in and out of each other's lives, it was always her who reached out to me, making sure I knew our connection was still there, that she was thinking of me.
     With that same spirit, she has nurtured her family, having been blessed with the man of her dreams, children, and grandchildren.  
     Over the years, she has sent me pictures of her yard in its full blooming glory. She has a green thumb, tending her flowers like she tends her friendships - faithfully, purposefully, lovingly. 
     I love you, Patti. Thank you for the years of care you have given me.

     My grandkids brought me a Valentine card this morning - a near-perfect heart cut from blue construction paper, decorated with stickers and crayons. 
     While toddler Malachi searched for balls to bounce, Adia stood before me, pigtails perfectly placed on either side of her head, her brightly colored slicker sprinkled with rain, and offered the card that she had made just for me.
     After a hug and a kiss, I stepped back and caught a glimpse of her little sparkly black shoes and noted, as I had many times before, that she had put them on the wrong feet.   
     I have long considered this to be one of the great mysteries of the universe (ask my kids, I'm not exaggerating.) After raising five boys and two girls, being Gramma to four grandsons and two granddaughters, and laying eyes on too many young children out in the greater world to count, I can say with certainty that more than 50% of the time, kids will put their shoes on the wrong feet and be happy to wear them like that the live-long day.
     Why? I mean, why? If it were an even 50/50 split, I could understand, but it isn't. And given all the lame-brained things that people waste time and money trying to figure out, why hasn't someone done a study on this gender-neutral, race-neutral, income-neutral shoe phenomenon?   
     Well, as of this morning, I finally know the answer. I saw it clearly as my granddaughter stood before me, her wrongly placed shoes turning her toes outward, her feet forming a perfect little heart. Now, I no longer need a study to tell me what compels our little ones to wear their shoes as they do until we succeed in changing them. 
     The truth is, our kids will make every day Valentine's Day if we let them, cause from the top of their heads to the tip of their toes, they're all about the love.

Confession - As I write this, I'm wearing my shoes on the wrong feet.  


I'm so pleased to have an article featured in the Better After 50 e-magazine. It's dedicated to all my magpie friends.



KarenGrace Reflections of an Invisible Woman