We come from the era before selfies. Me and my dear friend Olivia, who turns 70 in a few weeks (I beat her by a few months).
From promoting kids’ books and reading to little ones, to supporting our now grown sons, to sharing insights about aging, we always have plenty to talk about.
She calls me Mama Bear. I think of her as The Wise one, The Truthful One. We’ve been friends for more than 25 years.
Although we don’t see each other often, she has always been there for me. I hope the same is true of me.
It was spring 2000 when Olivia visited me in Tucson. I had only been here for a few months. What did we know? We took off on a strenuous hike in the Catalinas. It was too late and too hot. Around halfway up to Romero Pools, I was sun struck. Scared, I sat under a tree. Olivia scrambled ahead to see how much farther it was to the top. She asked somebody for more water.
But I felt safe because I was with my friend. We survived.
Olivia and I have shared hard times and good. We both received A Spirit of ABC Award (Association of Children’s Booksellers) in the late 1990s, when I closed my children’s bookstore and she sold her business.
Olivia is now the grandmother of two little boys. I’ll be the grandmother of a little boy in early 2017. I ask her what it’s like. She shares stories with me.
And she never forgets my birthday! Here’s the story-of-our-friendship bowl she created for my 60th. It means so much to me.
Olivia is a consummate artist, a quilter, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher and practitioner.
“Breathe,” she’s suggested to me more than once, reminding me of my own power. But she doesn’t hesitate to speak up when she disagrees with me.
Olivia has an incredibly generous heart. How many years did she spend collecting pieces of fabric to create a magnificent quilt to raffle off in support of the AIDS Foundation (or was it another of the organizations she passionately supports?).
Olivia doesn’t give up on anybody or anything she cares about. Doing her best. Being genuine.
If Olivia’s afraid she still plows forward, always ready for new growth.
If anyone knows that we’re stronger together, it’s Olivia.