I met Mary Ann in the produce department at Hudson’s grocery thirty-four years ago this fall. She had a little girl and a baby boy. I had a little boy and a big belly. We became instant friends standing by the lettuce display.

We only lived in the same town for two years, but that was long enough to forge a lifelong friendship. I’ve moved twice and so has she and we both added third kids. She’s someone I may not talk to for six months, but when she calls, our conversation starts with, “And so then…” It’s as if we hung up the phone last night.

We’ve trekked through some rocky terrain together, raising kids, losing parents, surviving disappointments and a car wreck that almost took her life. Her latest conquest; breast cancer. She won.

We both have a gaggle of grandkids now and are both married to the same guys we were married to when we met. We agreed we were keeping our old husbands because it would be way too much work to break in new ones.

Yesterday Mary Ann and her daughter, Jennifer, were in town on a day trip celebrating and shopping for Jennifer’s birthday. We tried to meet for lunch, but had to settle with catching up in the Banana Republic dressing room at the outlet mall. Mary Ann, Jennifer, Jill, baby Vivian and the stroller and I took over the space. It was a sweet hour of laughing and conversation while Jennifer tried on a dozen outfits in search of a new look for her new corporate job.

When we said our good-bye’s, I knew more than likely, it would be several months or a year until I see Mary Ann again. But that’s OK. I know she’ll always be at the other end of the phone if I need her. She knows that about me too. Friends like that are priceless. Everyone needs a Mary Ann in their life.

“A friend loves at all times.” -Proverbs 17:17

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