During my performing years I spent a great deal of time learning repertoire, performing operas and concerts, travelling to engagements, and bringing up a child. I would meet other performers for brief sojourns and keep in touch, but I never experienced the fun and camaraderie of girlfriend time.
My sister has always been my best girl friend, and we are extremely close, talking on the phone everyday, texting, sharing intimate thoughts, and laughing at our own special jokes. We are very lucky to have that bond. However, the silly fun that I have enjoyed mostly with sports girlfriends has been a different and delightful pleasure for me.
I have always loved sports. At first, before my knee challenges (see blog, Those Knees) I played tennis, badminton and platform tennis. I loved competing in doubles on a tennis or paddle team and found that the new friendships I made moved off the court. The women I met in my neighborhood, after I retired from the stage, were full of fun, and before long we started to spend time together at lunches, and away on weekends. Every birthday or special occasion was marked.
One of our gang was particularly good at organizing us and remembering all the important dates, and taking memorable pictures. When it was a very special birthday of hers, I enlisted a few our local fireman to come and wish her well. This was when there was a calendar of very buff fire fighters and we had a remarkable visit with them. They even hoisted her off the ground at our paddle tennis club and joined in on the court. The laughter that ensued was hilarious.
I don’t think I have ever laughed as much at any time as I did with these women. Weekend trips included visits up north to cottages or ski chalets, with games like trash and treasure (these are grown women after all) and putting contests, and night time capers collecting lost golf balls on a darkened driving range. Potluck dinners are de rigueur and terrific. This group often headed over to our local pool hall and recently we met there and were treated to a thank you game and dinner from one of us who recently was widowed and wanted to do a special evening with those friends who had been particularly supportive. There is always big betting, 25 cents a game, much noise and raised voices, and much laughter, sometimes even a tear or two.
Now I play golf and have met more wonderful women. We had a potluck just this week with a special send off for one of the girls who is moving to Vancouver. Again the joy that I felt that evening, and the tinge of sadness at missing our friend, will stay with me. The variety of food was incredible and tasted delicious. Of course when you are making just one dish you can give it lots of attention. We all chipped in and got a great gift for her.
Some women like to dress up in costumes I discovered. Our golf club in Toronto, Islington, is renown for its themed member/guest golf days. The décor and costumes are incredible, whether the theme is aviation, China, Oktoberfest, Ireland, Britain, or just hats, the women get creative and most take part. I spent much of my career wearing costumes, and so at the beginning of these adventures I wasn’t very involved, but I soon rifled through my old concert gowns and started to participate with a vengeance. What fun!
Crazy in kilts
These lively and entertaining events have been numerous and I adore them, but they also offer a chance to get to know the women and to talk to them, not just to play golf or tennis with them. What ensues is perhaps the best part of these friendships. We become a support group for each other. At this time of our lives when so many are losing spouses, family members, parents, or dealing with illness, these women step up.
The aviatrices including yours truly as Amelia – another fun golf day
I have found it the same with my pals down south, again met through golf in our small community at The Mission Inn Resort. We also have a book club and I run an opera club. Some women play bridge or mahjong. There is a lunch group and a dinner group for women that meets one a month. Many who don’t play sports like golf or tennis, workout in fitness groups or join yoga classes, or running clubs. It doesn’t much matter what you do, but it is important to do something with other women, these friendships are especially significant as we get older. We get together, we put away our cell phones, and we communicate verbally. We support each other and we laugh.
Ready in knickers for golf
I have also noted that our ages can range from 40 to 80 and still we find much in common. I think one of the scariest things in life is loneliness. When I give my motivational speech about overcoming adversity and finding contentment, I suggest that there are five strategies for happiness and one of them is ‘have fun’. Just allow yourself to be silly whether it is with your grandchildren or your dog. Let loose and laugh. There is always a place for our personal sadness, but laughter helps lighten the load, and refresh the soul.
On a swing with Rose when she was very young
I will be heading to Italy tomorrow so there will be a longer time before my next blog, but I will look forward to describing the highlights of our trip. The friends that we will be meeting in the airport in Milan are great fun and we always laugh together. I hope we will feel that way when we realize we can’t fit all our luggage into the trunk of the rental car. Tally ho!
Till the next time,