2018-04-25 / Columns

A spring walk deepens the mother-daughter bond

SALLY’S WORLD
SALLY FRIEDMAN

It’s one of those simple refrigerator magnets, and on it are the words: “There is nothing quite as precious as a daughter who is also a friend.”

I look at that magnet nearly every day of my life. On good days, it’s an affirmation of what I knew all along. On bad days, it’s a reminder that better ones are coming.

But occasionally, that little magnet’s motto takes on a whole new meaning. One of those occasions came on a recent, quite ordinary afternoon.

Amy, our middle daughter, and our most elusive one, was home for a blink. Not even over a weekend, mind you, because weekends, for Amy, are jam-packed, breathless phenomena.

Anyway, Amy was “hanging out,” as she’d call it, on that rare Thursday afternoon at home when she suddenly decided that what we really needed to do was take a walk together. “I can’t,” I firmly told her. “I’ve got a million things to do.”

And I could easily tick off the list, typical of my “glamorous” mid-week days—laundry, library, hardware store, vacuuming… and my everlasting deadlines.

Amy persisted. Cajoled. Reminded me that in three hours, she’d be gone.

Some instinct—guilt, perhaps— made me succumb. The laundry and library and all the rest could wait.

So Amy and I grabbed light sweaters, and off we went through the familiar streets of the town that has known Amy’s feet from Mary-Janes through high-fashion boots.

I can’t tell you why, but somehow, talk was freer outdoors, with the light breeze blowing and a spring sun warming us.

Amy told me, as we headed down our town’s Maple Avenue, not Amy’s more familiar Manhattan’s Madison Avenue, about her working life. But this time, she supplied delicious detail.

This middle daughter, stagestruck from infancy, works in the mysterious world of television production, and I’ve never been too clear on just what she does. On this walk, I got more texture and detail than ever. I drank it in.

But even better was her description of a “day in the life” with her two daughters, our youngest grandchildren.

Amy married later than her sisters, and yearned for children. She got two of them—15 months apart.

On this walk, she dug more deeply than ever before into their personalities, their quirks, their delightful differences. I hung on every word.

She filled me in on the lives of her friends, these now-grown women I had known as high school and college students with romantic dreams and some foolish notions.

Now, all of them are married, some for the second time. One is semi-famous, another has written three books, and still another is still trying to find herself.

Finally, we talked, as we walked, of home and family. The ways in which she still needs her father and me. The ways she doesn’t.

How her husband has reminded her of my old litany: Try to marry a man who can be your lifelong friend. David is just that to Amy, who needs an anchor to her own soaring sail.

When the world disappoints, Amy confided, she can look homeward to David to help her heal.

“And you do that for me too,” Amy added.

I recognized that those are the very words, admit it or not, for which parents yearn after all the giving, the understanding, the listening, the loving, and the just “being there”—it’s nice to know we’ve been noticed.

Not much, you say?

Then you’ve never walked toward new understanding, on a spring afternoon, with a daughter who also is—thank you, Lord—a friend.

 pinegander@aol.com

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