Sally and Mom were little girls when they first met in the coal camp near the mine where their fathers worked. Their friendship started then and lasted until Thursday, July 30, when Sally passed away at her youngest daughter’s home near Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
We had made tentative plans to travel to see Sally the week of July 20, but the cloud of COVID-19 was too ominous to journey outside of the safety of our home.
I had asked Mom just days before Sally’s death to write some special memories, sentimental and humorous, for Patty because they shared so many parts of their lives. Mom especially enjoys telling stories about her early days of driving with Sally always in the passenger seat. Maybe escapades better describes the experience.
There is a shelf filled with photo albums in the Florida room of our house. Countless images of Mom, Sally and their friends are among the pages. I still get tickled when I look at the photos of the young women at the local pool in their shapely bathing suits, with their hair coiffed and makeup applied to perfection. I doubt they ever got wet, but they made their point for the young men at that pool.
Sally introduced Dad to Mom, and, a few months later, she met Don. The two couples became lifelong friends. Sally and Don’s daughters were born between my sister and me, so -- even though they lived in the Cleveland, Ohio, area -- we literally grew up together. Don, like many from the coalfields, found employment in the steel mills. Life underground isn’t for everyone.
One of the most impressive chapters in Sally and Don’s life was when, after losing her mother and father at rather young ages, they took in her siblings rather than see them split up with other family members. The three older brothers were already on their own, and also living in the Cleveland area. With two young daughters of their own, Sally and Don welcomed four brothers and two sisters into their home.
Our vacations were often spent in Cleveland with them. We visited museums and experienced other forms of culture that city offers.
Mom and Sally continued to make memories as only the best of friends can. As for Dad and Don, they would golf all day long. Both enjoyed life to the fullest.
Like Mom, Sally buried her husband and her oldest daughter. They helped each other through those losses.
Now, Patty and I share the stories. The night after her mother died, she said Dad had introduced her to Jesus. She said Dad would ask her to sing him a song, and then he would sing to her about Jesus. He exposed her to the life of a Christian and she followed his example.
Just before Sally passed away, Patty and I had talked about checking with the Guinness Book of World Records about the longest friendship. Mom and Sally shared more than 80 years.
The two never forgot where they came from either. In the last year, Patty and her husband Rick took Sally to our hometown, not knowing that would be the last time she would see where it all began.