Friends found in unexpected places

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Interesting how we make connections in this life, how people show up and become our friends. Sometimes it happens in unexpected ways and in the most unexpected places.

I don’t remember the exact date when I first had a conversation with the friend who is the subject of this column. She was working at the checkout. I was shopping and waiting in line for my turn at her cash register.

At some point, I heard her mention the show, “American Idol.” While I’m not much of a reality television viewer, that particular season, (and the only one) the show sucked me into its spell.

It was the year Taylor Hicks was one of the contestants. Since my youngest son and daughter-in-law kind of knew him, I started watching. Before long, I wasn’t just watching every week, I was obsessed and pulling hard for Taylor to win.

Anyway, I heard the woman at the checkout mention that her favorite person on the show was also my favorite. When it came my turn, I struck up a conversation with her about Taylor, how wonderful he was, and how he should be the winner.

Before he found fame on this reality show, Taylor gave my son a CD he made and I had a copy. The next time I was shopping and my friend was working, I gave her a copy of my copy. It cemented our connection.

Well, Taylor won and life moved on. Happily, the friendship stuck and from then on, whenever she was working and I was shopping, we shared a visit.

I learned about her family and we talked about remodeling when she was redoing some things in her house. She always asked me about Mikelyn, my daughter who has autism. We laughed about the food items I purchased because you could tell my daughter’s latest fixation by the frequency of my trips to buy the special things she wanted at the time. There was genuine caring when she inquired about my family and I cared about her and hers as well.

Any time I walked through the doors of the store and saw her at the checkout, I smiled and we usually exchanged a wave and a softly yelled hello. It was a nice connection and made my shopping trip more enjoyable.

Last week, as she rang up my purchases and we talked about what was going on in our lives, she told me that she was retiring. In fact today, Wednesday, is her last day.

She said she was ready to settle into life without work and was looking forward to having time to do things she enjoys. I am happy for her and told her so.

I am glad she is getting a chance to retiree to hopefully a more relaxed life, but the selfish part of me sure hates to see her go. It won’t be the same not seeing her every so often.

As I thought about her and about our friendship, it occurred to me what a gift it is when people come into our lives. How sweet the moments we spend sharing a bit of ourselves with each other.

And, we never know how or where a friend might show up. That’s why remaining open to the possibilities in life is such a wonderful thing. If we are willing to take a moment to connect with each other, who knows what might develop.

Anyway, I am grateful for the day when a conversation about a television show gave me the gift of a friend. I hope we pass each other’s way again because I sure do like this woman.

So, happy retirement Margaret. Thank you for being my friend. My trips to Walmart won’t be the same without you there to check me out.

Nancy Blackmon is a writer and yoga teacher.