Friday, June 02, 2006

Tea, Donuts, and Memories

I am fortunate to have another longtime friend coming to visit this weekend. Donna and I go back to eighth grade. We passed notes in American History class, spent afternoons at each other's houses, knew each other's families. At my wedding nearly 34 years ago, Donna was my maid of honor. She is also my daughter's godmother, and a better one Kristine could not have found with a professional search firm.

As Fate would have it, a couple of years ago Donna and her husband were transferred to Southern California by their company. So now, when I need her the most, Donna is a mere couple of hours up the freeway. She has no idea how comforting that thought has been to me in the months since Pete died.

Many years ago, when my grown daughter was a toddler and Pete and I lived "back East," Donna came every Thursday to visit and spend the night with us. To my daughter's delight, Donna always brought a box of fresh, bakery shop donuts. When 3-year-old Kristine saw the sheets for the sofa bed coming out of the linen closet on Thursday afternoons, she would eagerly ask, "Aunt Donut coming?" We would order pizza for supper, then Donna and I would have a "Girl's Night Out." Sometimes we'd head to the mall and shop, sometimes we'd go see a movie. By the time we arrived home, Pete and Kristine were usually asleep. Donna and I would sit on the sofa to the end of Johnny Carson, talking, drinking tea, munching donuts, and talking some more.

On one memorable Thursday evening, Donna and I had to change our plans. Pete was buying a new van, so he brought all of us to the auto dealership to see the vehicle. We sat in the salesman's office, ready for the reams of paperwork--Pete, me, Donna, and Kristine sitting proudly on "Aunt Donut's" lap. The salesman took in this unusual domestic tableau with some obvious confusion, and more than a little interest. In answer to the salesman's inquiry, Pete introduced me and Kristine as his wife and daughter. Donna sat quietly. The salesman looked at her and boldly asked, "So where do you fit in?"

Donna didn't bat an eyelash. "Oh, I'm his mistress," she answered, looking straight back at him. Then she casually turned her attention to tying Kristine's open shoelace. The stunned salesman didn't ask any more questions. In fact, I don't think he said another word. The transaction was completed in peace, then Pete, Donna and I laughed all the way home.

Those were good days. I'm looking forward to adding a brand new page to my tea-and-donuts memory book this weekend.

Girlfriend, thank you. You are the best.