Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Friend Penny

Was talking to my friend Penny on the phone yesterday. She lives out on Vancouver Island but I met her about 37 years ago in Sexsmith Alberta at the Peace River Bible Institute as it was called in those days.

Penny was assigned to my room in the dormitory as visiting teenager who was at PRBI for a special youth retreat weekend.  As an older college student I was to be her weekend spiritual mentor.

It was a great weekend.  Penny became very close to God that weekend and has remained a steadfast disciple of his ever since.  We have stayed in close contact over all these years, mostly by phone and email.  In fact I can add up the number of times we have actually seen each other over the past 37 years on about 7 fingers! But she is like the sister I don't have and wish I did.

The times we have spent together have been pretty hilarious.  She visited me when our son was born and brought him a stuffed Tweety Bird that he hauled around with him for years.  Only recently did we find its poor battered remains in a cardboard box and gave it a decent burial.  

She accompanied me on an interesting gaol visitation once when all I had to drive was an old, badly painted, rusted out '66 Chev.  As we sat in the visiting room one of the First Nations inmates remarked that "There's an Indian car in the parking lot.  I must be getting a visitor today."  Sigh......the excitement in the voice of the inmate really got to me and it was difficult to admit that the car was mine and see the disappointment on his face....that then broke into a huge smile accompanied by gales of laughter at the white lady driving the "Indian car".  (the word "Indian" has fallen out of favour these days among white folk but please remember this was years ago and the person using the word was himself First Nations, not white)  When we got back to town we stopped at the grocery store and the car died in the lot, never to be resurrected.  What a lovely visit for my friend Penny...gaols and disaster cars, and I am grateful to this day for her sense of humour.  

During times of mutual financial difficulties Penny and I had a fifty dollar bill that we would send back and forth to each other as needed.  It went on for a couple of years and was a great blessing to us both. Again, a lot of laughs in the form of hilarious cards accompanied the financial assistance.  The sending of cute cards back and forth has become a tradition that continues on.

The last time Penny visited me she brought her husband with her and the 4 of us were having quite a lovely weekend........until out of nowhere I was hit with one of the worst asthma attacks I have ever had and ended up spending most of our second day together over at the hospital getting adrenalin shots. Sigh.......no wonder she has never come back to see me.  hahahaha 

We too lived on Vancouver Island once for a few months and got together with Penny and her husband a number of times. We each drove half the distance between us and met in the middle at a restaurant where we could sit for hours laughing and giggling and being silly.  I suppose our husbands actually engaged in some deep theological and philosophical conversations, but I only remember the laughter Penny and I enjoyed.

PRBI brought some interesting people into my life for a brief time, but Penny is the person who has remained constant over the years.  Lots of sharing of good times and bad....true and lasting friendship.


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