A true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths.

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A Woman of Substance

When I was working in a large hospital I had quite a few friends. Many were close, some were cordial acquaintances and some were merely people who crossed in the many hallways we all walked to get from one department to another.

In a place that employed twenty-five hundred people, the diversity was large. From the very top of the corporate ladder to the middle and the lower rungs of that ladder, we were all in it together.

One day I interviewed an applicant for a job in our department. Her name was Lauretta. She had worked in a few other departments prior to applying for our administrative assistant position.

Isn’t it odd that in our lives we can remember some things so clearly and other times either not at all or so faintly we rack to brains to come up with some clue the situations ever existed. I remember that interview like the crystal clear waters of the South Pacific.

Lauretta was great in the interview. I felt she was the “one” for the job. She was hired and soon became the anchor that kept us all together. She was organized, thorough and had a great sense of humor. Although she was never on time, no one really cared because she was always professional, OCD organized and always dependable. Oh, and her shoes always matched her handbags!

In what has become a friendship spanning over three decades, our relationship has grown to be a sustaining lifeline running both ways. Being fourteen years my senior, you would never know it. Her spirit is young, vital. Her wisdom is deep, wide and universal.

In becoming best of friends with Lauretta there was a bonus, her husband Charlie. An electrical engineer by trade, a true partner to Lauretta in every sense of the word. He is one of the men I respect the most on this planet. He is like the big brother I never had. Not because of what he has done for me, but knowing if I truly needed him in anyway, he would show up. That to me is exemplary. When I needed help with basically anything, Charlie was always there. A car accident, they came right away, a dispute with my ex-husband or his troubled family they came to me. The day after hurricane Sandy hit our town my son and I were freezing in our house.. we had the fireplace for warmth ( and cooking) they drove to our house and brought firewood and groceries. Buying a car was a process I deplored, Charlie always went with me. When I say bonus, I mean bonus. Having them in my life is like a “buy one, get one free” deal in terms of human beings.

They are the couple I admire the most. They met, fell in love, got married and had fraternal twin boys. Did they have issues, of course as every married couple does. I can say to this day they are the closest couple, so in sync with each other, it is a joy to be around them. Their sons are men who have matured into themselves. They are smart, extremely talented within their respective fields of employment, admirable fathers and true gentlemen. They have both inherited their parents sense of humor.

Lauretta grew up in the Bronx, New York. Her childhood was not idyllic. Her parents divorced and her mother remarried. She was often disappointed as a child waiting for people who were supposed to show up, and didn’t. Looking to her mother for validation and support, she was empty as her mother was directed in different places. To no fault of her own ( Lauretta tells me in retrospect), but still it hurts a child, young woman, woman not having a mother to “lean on”. I think this is part of what has created the fortitude deep inside Lauretta. A strength she would come to depend on internally in times of crisis.

What she did get were three siblings who she loves and has tried to protect all of their lives being the oldest, and it’s simply her nature. Matthew, Bernie and Lynn. They are all different, but all have a wonderful sense of humor, as does Lauretta. She has a family. A close family who she consistently prays for their well being, always remembers their birthdays with a card, celebrates their accomplishments and is always there for their heartaches. Check off big sister on her list of attributes. to be continued

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