If there was a soundtrack to my friendship with Manon, it would be The Beatles Let It Be album. When it came out, we spent hours listening to it in my parent’s basement – over and over again. We knew all the songs by heart and we’d sing along. She’d do Paul’s part in “I’ve Got a Feeling” and I’d do John’s. We’d both shout at Jojo and Loretta to get back where they belonged.
Manon lives in Ottawa now (it’s only about 2.5 hours from Montreal, but it’s not like living a few blocks apart). Work, raising families and the business of life in general mean that we don’t see each other or even speak on a regular basis. But it doesn’t matter. We’re still somehow “connected”. While writing this blog post, I got an e-mail from her that starts like this:
I’ve been thinking about you lately, had a dream about us hanging and singing in your parents basement.
I laughed out loud when I read it. But if I had to pick the song that really reflects our friendship from the Let It Be album , it would be The Two of Us.
You and me Sunday driving
On our way back home
We’re on our way home
“WE’RE ON OUR WAY HOME”
I’d be rich if I had a nickel for every time Manon and I made our way back home together. It began in grade school when we’d walk home after school. We’d part ways at my street and she’d travel the last few blocks home by herself or with her little sister. Our high school was in the opposite direction, so we’d do the reverse. I’d get off the bus a stop early to walk with her to her house and then continue on my way. Rock concerts, parties, school dances and basketball games – we looked out for each other and made sure we came home together.
“YOU AND I HAVE MEMORIES LONGER THAN THE ROAD THAT STRETCHES OUT AHEAD”
I guess we were about 11 the first time I actually went inside her house. My family had absolutely no artistic tendencies, so my eyes popped out of my head when we walked through the back door into the kitchen. Beautiful, big, colorful flowers were hand-painted on the white kitchen cupboard doors. The table and ladder-back chairs were stained a dark blue; everyone else I knew (including us) had garish arborite or ordinary, dark-brown walnut tables. The décor was her Mom’s doing but today Manon is just as creative, with a style and warmth all her own. She draws, paints and makes it look effortless to create a beautiful, inviting home.
At 13, we became part of a group of friends who fluidly and naturally gravitated toward each other to form our own little community. (We’re all still close friends today.) And that’s when Manon first met and fell in love with Mike.
At the time, they made an unlikely couple. Three years older than her, he was tall and lanky and Manon was just a little thing. He was a brooder, the second-youngest of seven and a little complex. (She’s long since brought him into the light and he’s warm, witty and friendly). She was easygoing, a firstborn who rolled with life’s punches.
Mike could be aloof at times and attentive at others. As Forest Gump might say, “He was like a box of chocolates. You never knew what you were gonna get.” But Manon knew one thing for sure. She knew he was the one and she waited patiently for him to come to the same conclusion. He did, and more than 30 years and three kids later, they’re still a perfect match.
In some ways, Mike and I are alike and I guess that’s why we need Manon in our lives. We can be cynical if the occasion calls for it (and sometimes even if it doesn’t). Not Manon. She’s sweet through and through but with boundaries that make it clear she’s not a pushover. She’s an interesting blend of things that don’t usually go together: creative and practical; sensitive but not sentimental.
When we were invited to a high school reunion recently, she didn’t come. She said, “I haven’t seen most of those people in years. I wouldn’t know what to say to them.” It wasn’t in any way mean-spirited, just sensible.
But when it comes to family and close friends, we know she has our backs and we have her heart. In her own words:
“I consider myself to be extremely blessed. I have a loving husband, three beautiful children and family. To add to that, I have a group of friends I have known for approximately 45 years and consider them more like brothers and sisters. What more can a person want.”
Cause that’s close to your heart:
The Barrhaven Food Cupboard (neighbourhood food bank) Most of us think that only homeless people are in need of food banks. One would never assume that the person living next door to you often can’t make it from one pay to the next or lost their job and struggles to feed his or her family. Working in a school I see children who arrive not having breakfast or very little for lunch. We often provide food for them. It breaks my heart.
Biggest Fear: To be alone
Doing nothing! I was brought up to always have something to do. Sleeping in wasn’t an option in my parent’s house, even as a teenager! There were chores to be done or projects on the go. Now that I’m older, the children have grown, I try to take time for myself and my husband, of course. I’m still working on it.
What makes you laugh:
The innocence of children. Working in an elementary school I have the pleasure of seeing life through their eyes and it can be quite entertaining. Over the years I have met some pretty interesting kids whose views on life had me in stitches.
People who never have anything good to say……and people who walk in the middle of the parking lot with their grocery carts. They may be the same people, I don’t know, but both are quite frustrating.