(Celebrating independence is the theme for this week's Fun Monday. Grace, our host over at Mama Rehema's , asks us to share how we observe our country's Independence Day. That's July 4th in the U.S. This year was a special one, a Cookout for the Harem, prepared by the Sultan himself.)
On the right is the Grilling Sultan, called Laddio in less formal situations. He has just recently upgraded his deck and was most eager to entertain his harem of six middle-aged women with a patriotic cookout. His chief assistant is Hallie the Pit Bull and sister of my own boy Willie. In the photo above Hallie is checking to be sure everyone will have their drinks of choice properly iced down.
Sally, the Number One Wife, is the only married member of this group of long time friends. Therefore, she very generously shares the Sultan with her friends--we call ourselves Laddio's Harem. He takes us out to dinner and on rare occasions is loaned out to "screw" for us--that is, putting up window boxes, curtain rods, etc. Here's the benevolent Sultan relaxing with his harem while the brats and burgers grill. As you can see, he enjoys his role:
How lucky we are in these friendships of over 30 years. All started by working for the same company for all these years. I'm the late-comer to this group and that was over 20 years ago. When we're together, I look at each of them and wonder how we've stayed friends for so long. We are so different. There's Z the social animal, J the witty and smart geek squad, S the hard-working romantic and Sally my heart friend and partner in many adventures. We don't necessarily share the same interests. In fact, sometimes we don't even understand what the other is talking about, but there's a glue that melds us together. It's is the experiences of a lifetime--work, relationships, family joys and troubles, illness, dog love, adventures.
So Friday night we sat out on the deck until almost 10:30 pm. We ate brats and burgers with all the trimmings prepared by our Sultan. And, after some trial and error and much needed direction from Hallie on how to get the ice cream maker cranking, we finished off the evening with homemade strawberry ice cream under the summer's night sky.
After I got home I read the ending to the last work of the Irish journalist and writer, Nuala O'Faolain, before her untimely death in 2008. In Best Love, Rosie Nuala writes of the challenges of late middle-age and how many of our support systems fail us in our later years. One thing we can always count on though is friendship in its many forms. Here's what Rose sees in her motley crew of friends at her own birthday celebration:
"The breeze was blowing the hair on all five heads in the same direction--so that you'd think, to look at them, that they belonged together: that they were all in the same little gang. But I knew how many hesitations there were between them--and between me and them. And it made me like them even more: that I knew how every one of them found it hard to get life right, and still they were willing to make a celebration, still they were generous. . .Yet I was moved by our middle-aged selves much more than if we had been young. It seemed a wonderful thing that we had come out of our separate lives and gathered on the top of a ridge for no reason but that we were friends." p. 368, Best Love, Rosie by Nuala O'Faolain
So, there you have it, Grace. My independence day celebration--good food, friends and a reminder of how precious the role played by each of these people in my middle-aged life. Now be sure to check out other Fun Monday celebrations. I suspect they'll be similar to mine.
- Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.