A young wife sat on a porch in Waycross, Georgia, on a summer
day, drinking iced tea and visiting with her mother. As they
talked about life, about marriage, about the responsibilities
of life and the obligations of adulthood, the mother clinked
the ice cubes in her glass thoughtfully and turned a clear,
sober glance upon her daughter. "Don't forget your girlfriends,"
she advised, swirling the tea leaves to the bottom of her glass.
"They'll be more important as you get older. No matter
how much you love your husband, no matter how much you love
the children you'll have, you are still going to need girlfriends.
Remember to go places with them now and then; do things with
them. And remember that girlfriends are not only your friends,
but your sisters, your daughters, and other relatives too. You'll
need other women. Women always do."
"What a funny piece of advice," the
young woman thought. "Haven't I just gotten married? Haven't
I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a married woman, for
goodness' sake, a grown-up, not a young girl who needs girlfriends.
Surely my husband and the family we'll start will be all I need
to make my life worthwhile."
But she listened to her mother; she kept contact
with her girlfriends and made more each year. As the years tumbled
by, one after another, she gradually came to understand that
her mom really knew what she was talking about. As time and
nature work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman,
girlfriends are the mainstays of her life. After 50 years of
living in this world, here is what I know about girlfriends:
Girlfriends bring you casseroles and scrub
your bathroom when you need help. Girlfriends keep your children
and keep your secrets. Girlfriends give advice when you ask
for it. Sometimes you take it; sometimes you don't. Girlfriends
don't always tell you that you're right, but they're usually
honest. Girlfriends still love you, even when they don't agree
with your choices. Girlfriends laugh with you, and you don't
need canned jokes to start the laughter. Girlfriends pull you
out of jams. Girlfriends help you get out of bad relationships.
Girlfriends help you look for a new apartment, help you pack,
and help you move. Girlfriends will give a party for your son
or daughter when they get married or have a baby, in whichever
order that comes.
Girlfriends are there for you, in an instant
and when the hard times come. Girlfriends will drive through
blizzards, rainstorms, hail, heat, and gloom of night to get
to you when your hour of need is desperate. Girlfriends listen
when you lose a job or a friend. Girlfriends listen when your
children break your heart. Girlfriends listen when your parents'
minds and bodies fail. Girlfriends cry with you when someone
you loved dies. Girlfriends support you when the men in your
life let you down. Girlfriends help you pick up the pieces when
men pack up and go. Girlfriends rejoice at what makes you happy,
and are ready to go out and kill what makes you unhappy.
Times passes. Life happens. Distance separates.
Children grow up. Marriages fail. Love waxes and wanes. Hearts
break. Careers end. Jobs come and go. Parents die. Colleagues
forget favors. Men don't call when they say they will. But girlfriends
are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between
you. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can
When you have to walk that lonesome valley,
and you have to walk it for yourself, your girlfriends will
be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling
for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms
at the valley's end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules
and walk beside you. Or come in and carry you out.
My daughter, sister, sisters-in-law, mother-in-law,
extended family, and friends bless my life. The world wouldn't
be the same without them, and neither would I. When we began
this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible
joys or sorrows that lay ahead, nor did we know how much we
would need each other. Every day, we need each other still.
Pass this on to the women who help make your
life work. I just did.
Added December 19, 2003
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