Cathy told us when she was gone and we saw a rainbow it was her saying hello. I said hello to her this morning.
Cathy was my mum’s best friend, my sister’s official godmother and my ‘adopted’ godmother. She met my parents when they were just married and mum was trying to study at home. Cathy’s husband was playing music loudly in the apartment underneath. Dad went down to tell them to turn it off and an unlikely friendship formed.
Cathy died suddenly a few years ago, but this is not the point of my story.
The point of this story is to tell you about the other women in my life.
The childfree women, who helped shape me.
Now for a bit of back story.
My parents were only children. My grandparents died when I was very young. My sister was five years older than me and while we have a beautiful friendship now, it was not always like this. We fought like cats and dogs. I was the annoying younger sister.
Was I lonely? Did I feel anything was missing?
No. I was surrounded by so many people who I trusted.
Those that had the most impact on me were the childfree.
Cathy became like an Aunt. We would drive around in her red sports car with the music up loud and the windows all the way down. She would take me for hot chocolates, to the ballet and had an obsession with strictly ballroom.
I thought she was uber cool in a way that my own mum could never be.
I knew she had my back.
I knew (god forbid) that if anything that happened to my parents that she and her husband would look after me.
Then there was Bev.
Bev was a hippy from Byron Bay, and the daughter of my Dad’s boss. She was a free spirit who wore cheese cloth and anklets that made a jingly noise when she walked. She did the book keeping, and many an hour I would sit and chat while she worked and waited for Dad. She taught me that I didn’t need a man to be happy, that women didn’t need to shave their arm pits, and could sleep naked if they really wanted. (I learnt this part by accident when she was babysitting me.)
She was her own woman with her own plans and her own rules.
I caught up with her on the mid north coast in my twenties and the connection between us was very much alive.
Last but not least, there is dear Sue, my year six teacher. We have been writing to each other since 1993. (Sporadically about once a year.)
Recently I received my first typed letter from Sue and she let me know that she has moved into a village type arrangement.
She has always been on her own and I don’t quite know why. It’s something I have never asked (and probably never will).
I haven’t seen her in person since 1993.
She survived cancer. She told us what it was like to lose all your hair. She taught me about the important of exercise and following your dreams. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that someone who had CANCER ran the City to Surf EVERY year and how HARD that must have been.
*I secretly dream about meeting her again one day and being featured in the Good Weekend.
A part of me wants to keep things as they are.
I am still slightly scared of Sue and want to impress her in a way that every 11 year old wants to impress their teacher.
Each year a letter from Sue is still a reminder to be my best me.
I hope they never stop.
Did you have other women around in your life growing up?
Do you surround your children with other strong men and women?
What role did they play?