Today is my friend Charlene's birthday. She's not just any friend. She's my forever friend.
You see, I've known her as long as I have a memory. Our friendship goes back 57 years because my parents moved next door to her family when I was two.
Charlene and I are in the back row.
We used to get the same Christmas presents due to our mother's planning -- I wonder if that was so there wouldn't be any fighting when we played together.
We used to play "show" on each other's front porches wrapped in our faux mink stoles and plastic high heels, mimicking something we saw on the Ed Sullivan Show the night before.
We baked cookies in each other's kitchen played back and forth between the two houses,and helped each other with chores so the other could come out to play sooner.
There was a time when our brothers excluded us from their adventures, and we tried to dig our own swimming pool since we were banned from their secret hide out.
Her family goes back 150+ years in that little town and she has helped to preserve the same family tradition of dedication and hard work to her community, leading 4-H there for 23+ years. This summer she is helping to host an old-fashioned picnic for the Lutheran church's 150th anniversary.
I moved away after high school and she married and moved back home aross the road from my parents and her's.
During all those years of my parent's confinement with poor health she cooked food, brought her husband to help and came running whenever they had a need, and she raised her children to be helpful and attentive to them. She became like my parent's second daughter.
Charlene is in the middle
She's nursed her parents and mother-in-law through their own illnesses and is the backbone of her family -- a loving wife, supportive Mom, and doting grandmother.
She knows my history better than anyone else and STILL loves me.
I can let too much time pass and she still answers my calls with the same enthusiasm and warmth.
When I call with a problem she always considers my best. She's the first to be excited over any success I may have.
Charlene is the one I use as an example in my life skill's classes when I talk about faithfulness and loyalty in relationships.
She has kept our relationship strong all these years. She NEVER forgets a special day of mine.
When I go back to my hometown of Moro I step back in to all the wonderful memories of our time growing up together and we pick up where we left off from our last phone call.
Charlene, 1 Cor. 13 describes the love you give to all of us, LOVE is (You Are) patient, kind, not self-seeking, . . . always protect, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres.
I can't be there today, Charlene, but I want to wish you the best of birthdays. You are the wind beneath all our wings.