We have individual friends and we have groups of friends.  Friends from childhood, from the neighborhood, from church, from work, from all over the place.  Most of us are lucky enough to have several groups of friends and they may come and go through the years.  I have one group that is somewhat unique in that we were elected to be together back in 1987.  A Nominating Committee put us together to serve as officers of the Junior League of Tulsa.  Of course, we knew each other in varying degrees because we’d served on boards and committees together if we didn’t already know each other.  But, I don’t think any of us would have put us together as a group of friends.  We were chosen for our leadership skills and the fact that we could probably work together to lead the membership to meet the goals of the organization.  We were the seven officers.

Times were different when we started meeting.  We were all basically stay-at-home moms, although a couple of us may have been working part time.  We were all married with children and worked full time jobs as volunteers on top of all our home responsibilities.  When I try to explain this to women today, they can’t quite take it in.  We really did get up, get the kids to school, and then meet, often the entire time from 9:30-2:30, when it was time to pick up the kids, get dinners, get them all to lessons, etc.  Sometimes, after dinner, we were back at meetings.  These weren’t trivial meetings…we accomplished things.  On top of these meetings, we were volunteers at our schools and churches and for other organizations.  We were smart women who liked making our world a better place for our families and our communities.  We used to laugh and say that we weren’t trained for anything less than heading corporations with all the leadership skills we’d acquired.

The year we were officers, we started meeting in January to establish what we wanted to accomplish.  We met every Monday, 9:30-2:30, to discuss who we wanted to put in charge of key projects, what our board was going to look like.  We did this all the way through until we were officially in office the end of May.  From May of that year until May of the following year, we met every Monday to see how the various committees were doing and to report to each other.  We took turns feeding each other and we learned about each other’s families.  In between, we met with the committees we liaisoned and the board, advisory board, and other groups from the community.  All this without computers, cell phones, and answering machines.  To say we were bonded by the end of the year was an understatement.  It was an amazing experience, one that we can look back on with extreme pride.  In all the years since, I’ve never had the job satisfaction or the sense of accomplishment I had during those years I spent in Junior League.  We developed projects, raised money, brought community leaders together and manned the projects…making a difference.

Our lives began to change as soon as that year began.  It was just that time in our lives, not particularly because of our volunteer work.  There were marriages that crumbled and careers that opened up.  After our terms, we began to meet every month for breakfast, just to keep up with each other.  Within a few years, all of us had interesting careers, taking us in places we had never dreamed.  Some were forced on us by marriages that left some alone to support and raise children, or marriages that needed more income to get the kids through college, and others were just opportunities that came along.  We  changed to dinners, but we kept meeting.

The short story of this is that we are still meeting…is it 26 years later?  Every month for dinner, although we hope to all get retired and go back to lunches.  Our children are grown, most of us are grandmothers, some are still single, some are remarried, I’m widowed.  We’ve been through every kind of life drama…divorce, marriage, death, illness, and success after success… you can imagine.  We have cried with each other through the worst and laughed a whole lot.    We aren’t a group that is bound by our husbands or kids…we are bound by our respect for each other.  We are always there when we need each other.  We don’t call each other first thing…we have individual friends and family for that…but we know we will always be a huge part of the support system in each other’s lives.

I’m sure that the committee that selected us to be together didn’t know that this would be the outcome, and isn’t it a funny thing to be elected to be friends?  But I wouldn’t trade these women in my life for anything.