In the fall of 1984 my Mama took me to school for the first time. I was six years old and my Kindergarten class was inside one of four classrooms located across the street from Millport High School home of the Millport Jr. Tide.
I lived in the deep South where segregation was normal and at that time in my life I was innocent and oblivious to the reasons why I had to drink out of the “WHITE” water fountain when some of my friends and classmates had to drink from the “BLACK” water fountain. It just was what it was, and I was too little to know the difference.
I spent most of my first-grade year sitting at my desk just outside of Mrs. Junkin’s classroom door in the breezeway. I’m still not sure what all I actually did to earn that spot outside her classroom door, but I learned to really like playing with the bugs and the butterflies that I found in the dirt out there by myself.
In second grade something really big happened. I moved to a brand-new school three miles up the road from this one. It was huge and on our first day, all the second graders had to sit on the floor because we didn’t have desks or chairs yet. I remember sitting on the floor in Mrs. Jackson’s second grade classroom next to a girl I didn’t know. She said her name was Mea and she was from Kennedy.
Since I was from Millport she told me that she couldn’t be my friend. See, Millport and Kennedy were rival schools located only six miles from one another. For years and years, the schools hated one another and battled it out on the football field, basketball court, and baseball fields like it was a blood match. If you came from “Kennerdy” you stuck with Kennedy folks. Same for Millport.
So, the fact that the two schools were combined into a new school didn’t sit well with some people in our area. It wasn’t really malice that kept the two towns apart…it was tradition. As a second grader (and the oldest child in my family) I didn’t have a clue about tradition. All I knew was that I was excited to be in a new school.
Mea was the baby in her family. Both of her older siblings had gone to Kennedy and being that they were several years older than her, had taught her that “we don’t make friends with folks from “Milllllllllport”.
Good thing Mea never listens to anybody; especially her siblings! Since we were seated next to each other on that floor for what seemed like a long time, we just naturally learned to be friends. We laughed and played everyday and before long we didn’t even remember why we were not supposed to be friends in the first place. Her siblings learned that lesson too!
Our teacher was Mrs. Daffron in the third-grade. She had a baby that year so Mrs. Carroll was her substitute. Both of those ladies learned pretty quickly that me and Mea did not need to sit next to each other. With our desks on opposite sides of the classroom we still managed to get into trouble for talking or laughing out loud during class every day!
I don’t remember if we were in the same class during our fourth-grade year or not. Probably not since I can’t remember. But, we still played together at P.E., I do know that!
In the fifth-grade we both got a paddling from Mrs. Abrams for fighting. We decided we hated each other that year and did our best to make sure the other knew just how much! After that paddling though something magical happened. We formed a bond that to this day remains unbroken.
Our families have accepted over the years that there is an additional sibling that must be considered when there are major family decisions to be made. They learned during our Jr. High and High School years that me and Mea would be together most of the time. She wore my clothes and I wore hers. She got us into trouble and I got us out. We truly are Thelma and Louise.
Mea has always thought since she is the oldest (by less than 24 hours!) that she should be the one in charge. I guess being the baby of her family and me being the oldest of my family it was ok with both of us. We got to be what we never would have been otherwise when we were together. Thankfully, our mothers became friends and had each other on speed dial!
When we were twelve we made a bajillion trips to Florence where our love for the UNA Lions was born. When we were fifteen we had a small little birthday party together at my house. Our parents kinda freaked out when two-hundred and fifty kids from all over the surrounding states and counties showed up!
We took our first airplane flight together during high school when we flew to Dallas, TX with our Home Ec teacher. Mea freaked out and begged my Mama to go in her place. She even offered my Mama her clothes to wear! Instead of freaking out, I found my first true love: traveling!
After we graduated together, we would take short trips to the beach when we had the chance. One time, we watched our crazy Iowan friends go swimming in the ocean when it was 28 degrees outside! We wore the roads out between Florence and home. We hated one another’s boyfriends and told each other so many, many times.
Later we got married three weeks apart. I was her Maid of Honor and she was mine. Our sisters understood.
She had a baby a year after we got married and Meagan became my first child too. It took us six years before we had another one. I will never forget my sister Tracy calling me on Friday to tell me she was pregnant. My sister Diana called me on Monday to tell me she was pregnant. And, I was standing in the mall in Tuscaloosa the next Friday when Mea called my cell phone to tell me she was (finally) pregnant again. It was five more months before I called the three of them to tell them I was pregnant too.
The following year, we all got pregnant together again.
For a lot of years, Mea and I went to church together, played in the pool together, planned parties together, and went crazy together. Our kids have grown up with two sets of siblings and two sets of grandparents on their Mama’s sides. We breeze in and out of each other’s homes like they are our own.
We have literally faced every one of life’s storms together. We both lost spouses: me to death and her to divorce. We walked the lonesome trail of infertility; the broken years where we had no money and too many bills to pay; the fake friends who did not understand that we are not merely just friends and tried their best to tear us apart; and our girls were even baptized on the same day! We’ve lost husbands and houses; worked the same jobs; traveled the same places; spent the same money; fed each other the same food; and cried the same tears for thirty-two years. Not too many people can say that they have had a friend for literally their whole life, but we can.
Today, we are facing a new hurdle. Macy Jewel…Mea’s second child…her clone…and Maggie’s best friend since birth…is facing a medical issue that came out of the blue. This past week she started having seizures. She has never had a seizure before and we don’t know what is causing them now. Please pray with us that the doctors will be able to find a reason for the seizures and be able to treat them easily. Seeing Macy lying there so sick with no explanation is beyond hard to bear. We know that our God is a good God and that even in our darkest hour He is there. We are confident that He is the ultimate healer, redeemer, and savior. Through HIM all things are possible.
One-day way down the road, when our kids have us committed to the crazy ward or the nursing home…we will be those old ladies you hear about who dance in their wheelchairs, flirt with the male nurses, and flat refuse to leave each other’s sides. Until then, we will continue to do this life together come what may.