I'm not sure if this will end up being more about loneliness or friends. I don't have any friends from my teen years, which I believe is uncommon. When I left school to start work it appears that I no longer existed to those I had called friends for six years. I did not spend much time with them away from school, other than Dione. Dione and I lived fairly close and on Saturdays I was often at her house. I don't believe she ever came to my house. Come to think of it I really can't remember any of my friends coming to my house to hang out. Dione's father took a job in London to be the Queen's head groom, so that was that.
I made one friend at my first job. I was the junior in the accounting office of David Cover's & Sons a hardware and lumber merchants. Actually that's not technically true; if friends mean hanging out with someone, then, no, I didn't have any friends from work. But I did invite one of the girls I worked with, Pamela Cartwright, to my wedding when I married David Patchett. It was great because she did come all the way from Chichester, W. Sussex to Oldham, Lancashire. We kept in contact for a short while but then she stopped writing, so that was that.
When I was 20 I entered the William Booth Memorial Training College in Denmark Hill, London to train to be a Salvation Army Officer. I had met a boy prior to going to the college, Colin Smith, and we became engaged but couldn't announce it to anyone as it was against the rules of the college. My Mum didn't like Colin until I broke up with him. Then she liked him. I broke up with him when I dropped out of training because of a nervous breakdown. That was the year the 1st year Cadets of the college had to stay out on their training positions until January (instead of returning the September before) to the college, as the cadet's houses were being renovated. I had made friends at college and a few kept in touch. But then eventually they stopped writing, so that was that.
Just to clarify, the above was before everyone and their dog had a phone.
My friends from then on were actually my new husband's friends. We were out most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (yes, I had stopped attending Church. The reason: I blamed God for the hardships that I had encountered during my time in Middleton, Lancashire, as part of my training). So friends in Oldham were really David's friends. One of those friends came to Canada and wrote and told him he should come here as he would do a lot better here then staying in England waiting for 'dead men's shoes' (promotions in accounting fields usually by moving up when someone retired or died). So we sold up, packed up, and headed for Canada. Our friends in England kept up with us with letters for a few years, but they eventually stopped replying, so that was that.
We came to Canada and stayed with Peter and Pauline Johnson, David's friends, but not for long. You see, we had minds of our own and didn't follow their advice. We thought buying furniture was more important than getting a car on a loan. We could use the bus as the bus was only a couple of blocks away, so that was that.
David made a few more friends. I made one, who really became his friend more than mine, Rod and Izy Kier. But they moved out of Edmonton and so did we, so that was that. We made other friends, such as Aziz and Zeeny Karson. I believe they moved to Calgary, so that was that. As I look through my address book that I have had since I left England, I find many names in there. Some I remember. Some I don't. So were they friends? Were they there when I needed them? Probably not, so that was that.
We moved out of Edmonton to live in a new housing estate in Gibbons, Alberta. As more neighbours moved in we made new friends. This was a great neighbourhood. We had parties at each others homes. We had our children at the same time (give or take a month or year or two). I had Evette when we lived in Gibbons. We chose friends of David's that he had met. David and Margaret Hughes to be Evette's God parents. We lost contact with them. The friends in Gibbons? Well, we had to move back to Edmonton to be close to a hospital, as I was having complications during a pregnancy. Contact with them was broken, so that was that.
I've made temporary neighbour-friends over the years but as our lives move on, so do they; and contact is lost. When David chose to walk out on the children and I, many of our friends moved on to. Except one. I chose to go back to school. The plan was: I would go to school, raise the children and receive child support and alimony, for four years until I finished my degree. Things never work out how you think they will. Of course I made friends at Concordia College, my own friends this time. I had them over to my home. I visited them at their homes. We participated in college activities together. I was part of the Worship Committee and Mature Students group for the four years I was there. Surely I should have friends from those days. But no, just one. And I married him. Actually I had a few friends (or Richard and I) had a few friends and we sort of keep in contact. We call them friends but a friend is someone who sticks by you regardless of the choices you make, or the lessons life sends your way. A true friend is always there. Most fall off by the way, so that is that.
Life has thrown many a curve ball my way and over the years I have been very lonely. There came a time when my body and mind could take no more and I had another nervous breakdown. Where were my friends then? Richard stood by me during this very difficult time. I had two other friends I could count on, or so I thought, but during a phone call to one that week of my breakdown, I was told that I was to no longer phone, as she found it difficult to continue our friendship since her husband was now friends with my ex. My other friend, I guess I should say Richard's and my friend, she was a lot younger than us, but very mature for her age. Or so I thought, until the week of my breakdown a letter came telling me to not contact her anymore, so that was that.
What do you do when you loose friends? People have come and gone from my life on a regular basis and now as a Pastor's wife it is even harder. How do I make friends with members of the congregation? These are not real friendships as a rule. I had a dear friend in one parish. But a few months after we moved to a new parish she passed away. I was absolutely devastated. Eunice was like a sister to me. She was there when I had my leg amputated below the knee. She spent a week in Regina just so she could visit me everyday, when I was so sick. She washed me, washed my hair, made me laugh, gave me a little cat ornament that looked like Katie, so I wouldn't miss her so much. Once I was released from hospital, Eunice went with me to just about every appointment. When I went to get my leg fitted and be taught how to walk with a prosthesis, she visited me. Then every fitting and adjustment and new leg, Eunice went with me. Why didn't Richard? Because he couldn't keep taking a day off almost every week to drive to Regina for me to have an appointment. Eunice was more than a friend. She became my sister. A sister in Christ who stuck by me during a trying time. I'm not sure I will ever find another Eunice. I thank her from the bottom of my heart for being more than a friend. I have others who have been parishioners and now keep a bit in contact for a few years, so that is that.
By now you're probably thinking, but what about family? Family is only as close as you live near them. For years I sent cards and gifts and made phone calls, especially at Christmas. As the years went by the letters stopped coming, so did the cards and the phone calls, so I stopped sending cards as often. Other than phoning my mother most weeks, I rarely phone anyone else. So are my family members also my friends? I would have to say no. Maybe if I still lived in England, it would be different. But I live in Canada, it's a case of out of sight, out of mind, so that is that.
As a pastor's wife in a city that only has one Lutheran Church~Canada (LC~C) congregation I don't have the advantage of those pastor's wives who live in Cities where there is more than one LC~C congregation. Just like in the many small towns where pastors wives are some distance from other LC~C pastor's wives. We were in one circuit and we were lucky because we met as a complete family unit. Each pastor brought his wife and children to the Winkles once a month, some had to stay over to head home the following day. It was a great circuit, we were there for each other, yes we were friends. But Pastor's receive Calls and move away, just as we did, and that wonderful friendship and support is gone, so that is that. There are very few circuits to be found like the Assiniboin circuit and even that one is no longer like it was. So that is that.
Don't get me wrong I do have friends. I have, over the years of struggle being a Pastor's wife, had the privilege of knowing that no matter what the problem I can phone Murial. No I haven't chatted with her for some time but we are friends who can pick up where we left off last time we chatted. I have Jill, now I've never met Jill, she lives in South Africa, but we are collaborators on my hobby, the BOXALL (and variant) One Name Study (ONS) World Wide. When things are tough and my work on the ONS appears to take a back seat she understands and continues the work. We will meet one day, when? I don't know but I believe that she is a friend.
I have another friend (actually Richard and I have friends) they live in Greenfield, Milwaukee. The first time we went to the Catechetical Symposium in Sussex, Wisconsin they opened there home for us to stay one night. Of and on since that time we turn up in front of their home in our motor-home and become neighbours for a week. Actually we become part of their family for a week. We weren't able to go last year and this year looks the same. We follow each others lives by reading the others blog and Facebook page and yes they are friends.