Approximately fifty-four years ago, I evidently began my career with the grammar police. I don’t actually remember that moment in Mrs. Epperson’s first grade classroom when Judy Coleen’s balloon exploded. Judy, however, remembers clearly that when she said, “Oh, it busted,” I said, “No, it burst.”
Such a compassionate friend, wasn’t I?
What we both remember is that we bonded over words as soon as we began learning them. The bond and the learning have continued for decades. Much of our friendship shows up in bits and pieces on the pages of The Secret of Serendipity. Neither of us is any one character in the book, but we are sprinkled all the way through it.
This week, I shall take Serendipity as a gift to the elementary school where Judy and I learned to read. And, she will be there. Judy has been teaching high school students to love and wrangle words for more years than either of us shall mention. But, this is her last year in our school. She is retiring now that some of her students have also become teachers. I hope she plans to go wrangle some words of her own in between other pursuits, because books should be written bearing her name.
Judy and I don’t see one another often. In fact, months – even years – can pass between actual conversations. Yet, we pick up as if one of us just walked out of the room for a drink of water five minutes ago. We still finish one another’s sentences, and our daughters know that if we run into one another at the grocery store, there will be happy tears. (In a true-life moment of Serendipity, Judy’s daughter, Vanita, became the illustrator of this book!)
I have no idea where I got the idea to correct Judy’s grammar decades ago. I’m pretty sure stuff “busted” in my life all the time. But, here is something interesting: The word “burst” never changes. It is the same in every tense – past, present, and future.
And isn’t that also the mark of true friendship? It is the same in every season, whether we are girls playing dress-up with our mother’s fancy shoes or grandmothers weeping together over the death of a premature baby. That kind of friendship is the balloon that never bursts.
If you have a friend like Judy, thank God for her! Then, share this blog and tell her “thanks for sticking with me”.
If you don’t have such a friend, keep looking.
And keep learning how to become a friend. The kind someone else will want to laugh and cry with fifty years from now.