An Adventure Of A Lifetime

by SidewalkPhilosopher

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." Author Unknown

Where Does The Story Begin?

At twenty-five years old, I found myself in a new town where my husband had been stationed with the United States Air Force.

This town is situated between Columbia and Charleston, South Carolina. Sumter, a small town filled with southern people and southern values, was to be our home for several years.  There our first child was born and there I found two lifelong friends.

This story is about one of those friends.

 (Photo: Main Street in Downtown Sumter)

The First Months In A New Town



After moving and settling in during the spring of 1975, I found my days to be lonely with my husband away at work. During those first months, I often kept Forrest, my three year old nephew, whom I loved dearly. He filled the void and my time spent with him was delightful.

However, by the fall, I felt it was time to look for a job for Christmas and possibly to carry over into the new year.

 (Photo: Jeanie in 1975)

Meeting A New Friend

During college in Anderson, South Carolina, I had worked at the J.C. Penney Catalog Department during two Christmas Seasons and really enjoyed my job. Therefore, I applied at the Penney’s in downtown Sumter, acquiring a position in their catalog department.

The first week I worked, I was upstairs in the break room enjoying twenty minutes of quiet. As I sat looking through an Avon booklet left on the table, a young girl of 18 walked in for her break. She had beautiful, quite long, auburn hair and wore a green jacket over a green, hounds tooth plaid skirt. I remember thinking that green always looks best on someone with her coloring.

When she sat down, we said hello and then I mentioned something about the Avon booklet, which began our conversation. We talked easily together. Actually, too easily and were both late returning to our positions. She worked upstairs in the Credit Department.

As time passed, we would coordinate our breaks so that we could spend them together. After a few weeks, my friend, whom I now knew as Cathy, requested a transfer to the Catalog Department so that we could work together. This began a friendship that has lasted, up to now, some thirty-nine years.

 (Photo: My Dear Friend, Cathy)

Sharing Our Lives As Young Women

As Christmas jobs often do, I was asked to stay on after the holidays, remaining on the job at Penney’s until May of 1977. At that time, due to my pregnancy, I left the job, with the promise from management that my job would be waiting for me.

Cathy planned a baby shower for me, organizing the girls at Penney’s, that was absolutely beautiful and yielded so many wonderful gifts needed for our first baby.

The night my labor began, Cathy was at work behind the catalog desk alone and could not leave. So, we stayed on the phone for several hours as we timed my contractions together.










Once I made my way to the Military Base Hospital, Cathy called another friend and her husband, who were also military. She had them go to the hospital to be with my husband and to keep her posted on my progress.

Cathy wasn’t allowed to visit after the birth because of Base policies but she was with us all day, the first day my daughter and I were home.

Cathy was there for my daughter’s first birthday. I was with her for her bridal shower and wedding.  She was there when we needed a place to stay before leaving Sumter during our next move. She was there whenever I needed a friend to talk to, laugh with or cry with, always ready to share my life, my joys and my problems, helping to carry the load.

 (Photos: Cathy and her husband)

Our Walk Together

For the next twenty years, we lived three hours apart, only visiting three times during those years. Our lives were hectic with family, jobs and trials. However, every couple of years, one of us would call the other and for two or three hours, we would talk and laugh together as though no time had passed at all.

Our lives have so paralleled over the years, beyond those days at Penney’s. Cathy’s first marriage sadly ended in divorce, as did mine. When she remarried, she became the mother to a nine year old girl. When I remarried, I had two children of my own, a daughter of ten and a son of seven. With the marriage, I inherited two more, a sixteen year old son and a thirteen year old daughter.


We both worked long hours to help support our families.

Cathy and her husband had a son and a daughter and years later, adopted a grandchild to raise as their own, a little blond girl.

My husband and I adopted one of our foster children, a little blond girl.

 (Photo One: Cathy's children, April and Mattison)

 (Photo Two: Cathy's Adopted Daugher, Ashton)

Always In My Best Interest


On the day I married my second husband, Cathy and her husband drove the three hours to Anderson to attend the wedding.

On the way, she told her husband that if she didn’t feel comfortable about my future, she would be the one to raise her hand when the pastor ask if anyone disapproved. Her husband was concerned because he knew she meant every word!

Thankfully, she was happy when she saw the love for me in his eyes and remained silent!

(If you look closely at the photo of our wedding, just over my left shoulder, on the third row back on the right, Cathy is in pale pink with her husband to her left on the aisle.)


Personal Trials and Triumphs

We are both Christians who learned at an early age to be thankful for our blessings and to allow the Lord to guide us through the hard times.

Cathy’s personal hard ships have been much more trying than mine, however. Ten years ago, she was told she had Gallbladder Cancer with a twenty-five percent chance of survival. The day she called me, I was so frightened that I would lose my friend but I couldn’t let her know my fears…only my strength…which I did my best to convey to her along with hope and a lifeline to hold onto. She beat the odds.


Since that time, she has lost both her parents, has undergone another cancer unrelated to the first, from which she is again cancer free, several surgeries, and a hip replacement.


 Through it all, her faith has remained strong and our friendship has grown stronger.

 (Photos: Cathy's Parents)

Tradition Of Friendship

We now talk almost daily and have established a tradition of spending Thanksgiving together each year. It is just not Thanksgiving if she and her husband aren’t here in Florida with us. Our husbands have become friends and share many things in common and, for this, we are so grateful.

I was once told by an elderly friend of my grandmother’s, “Jeanie, you never know whom you may be talking to so always be kind to everyone you meet.” How totally true this is.

Who would have thought that day in the break room of J. C. Penney’s, when two young women casually met for the first time, that they were embarking on such an adventure…the adventure of a lifetime together!

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."  Author Unknown

 (Photo: Cathy, displaying a Florida Christmas Turkey!)


Updated: 09/20/2015, SidewalkPhilosopher
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SidewalkPhilosopher on 01/23/2012

Thanks, am I...came way to close to losing my best friend...thanks for sharing!

katiem2 on 01/23/2012

Oh so true, life does get in the way of time with friends and yet it is vital to keep the bonds strong, keep the faith and never let go. What a beautiful testimony, life is good, God is Good, so happy you are BOTH well and together sharing life's moments. :) Katie

SidewalkPhilosopher on 01/13/2012

I agree, Angel...I am so fortunate to have Cathy!

Angel on 01/13/2012

What a great story of friendship. I have one friend that is like this to me. I have known her for many years and we love each other dearly. It really feels good to have such a friend. Thanks for sharing.

SidewalkPhilosopher on 01/12/2012

Thanks, Grace...I'm glad you enjoyed hearing our story...and it continues...for years to come, I hope! :)

SidewalkPhilosopher on 01/06/2012

Thanks, Nancy...glad you enjoyed sharing our story. Cathy and Gerald were here for two weeks this Thanksgiving and it still wasn't long enough! We have such a great time together!

ohme on 01/06/2012

I loved reading this wonderful article on Friendship and really enjoyed reading your friend, Cathy's comment. Thanks for sharing your story.

SidewalkPhilosopher on 01/06/2012

Pam, I am so glad you enjoyed my story...and yes, wait until morning to call your friend! LOL Thank you for sharing my story!

dustytoes on 01/06/2012

This makes me want to call my best friend - but it's 4am, I'd better wait! It is amazing where we meet the people who will become our lifelong friends. I loved reading your friendship story.

SidewalkPhilosopher on 01/06/2012

Thank you, Michey...and I admire you for the way you take care of your mother...with all your heart!

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