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A long and winding road

November 16, 2011

There was a spark that flashed between us when we met in Miller Hall, Kansas University, when I arrived there second semester of 1955. How a stunning young angel of sixteen could demonstrate such intelligence and have such a wry outlook on life and wicked sense of humor appealed to me immediately. I guess we, her room-mates, Sharon and I, simply took it all for granted and we three were dubbed the Gotteslieblings by Sharon (German major that she was), who later served as Maid-of-Honor in both D’s wedding and mine in the fall of 1956. 

Through the next decade or so we had babies (each two girls then a boy, supported our professional husbands, and felt the impact of the social upheavals of the 60’s—The Vietnam War, Camelot, assassinations, Women’s Lib. During those years we maintained a close relationship and had some great times as couples. D. recently reminded me of an exhilarating evening the four of us spent dancing at an early disco, and I reminded her about another at a venue where we drank beer and threw peanut shells on the floor, listening to what D. called “the world’s greatest banjo player that she would follow to the ends of the earth.” I vividly remember wishing they could accompany each other during the pool games in the basement while D. played ragtime on the rinky-tink piano. Is it happening now?

We were not prepared for the gradual feelings of discontent that occurred in the midst of  changes in the social climate and the expanding opportunities for women occurring in those years, that took a toll on our marital and social relationships. We made our way through, but at a cost. I wonder if we were born to soon. I wonder if our grandchildren wonder the same. Through the years we maintained infrequent contact, but our sisterly bonds remained strong. The last time I spent time with D. was when we met Sharon in Lawrence for a K.U. alumni event and Miller Hall alumni tea in April of 2007. It was as if we had never been apart. We spent hours before sleep in the the motel room I shared with D. bringing each other up to date on our lives.

When I talked to D. a week or so before she died, she told me of her diagnosis and prognosis, and we had a very honest and heartfelt talk about the implications.But we also laughed about some of our trespasses of the house rules Mother Roach, housemother at Miller Hall, tried to enforce and some of the trouble we got in back in those days when it was lots easier to get in trouble (e.g., the time some of us had to visit with the Dean of Women the next fall because we had been with a group who had spent the last night of the previous spring semester celebrating at nearby Lone Star Lake). We still felt smug about the many times we didn’t get caught violating rules and curfews. I am heartened by the memory of D.’s distinctive giggly laugh in that last conversation we had.

Reflecting on the relative impact and regard for the many people I have loved in my seventy-five years of life, I realize that the bond I shared with D. Ann is one of the dozen or so that have endured the passage of time and geographical separation. I hope this holds true for our future.


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