As we log onto our weekly Zoom call made necessary by the pandemic, the screen reflects the lifelong friendship of six women. While this enduring relationship has continued for close to 70 years, the Zoom technology has offered us something new and wonderful—the ability to see each other regularly; to share our thoughts, good news and the challenges we’ve each faced as we navigate a new norm.

From discussing politics and COVID-19 protocols to books, recipes and favorite virtual entertainment, we find joy and laughter in this flexible space. The silver lining of these times is that we are actually enjoying each other’s company more frequently than before.

Our connections began in Fall River, Massachusetts, in preschool, in elementary school, in Hebrew school and, for some of us, even earlier than that. Growing up we knew each other’s parents, siblings and childhood homes…and now spouses, partners and children. While we went to different schools from elementary through college, we are rooted in a shared history of dance classes, Girl Scouts, excursion-of-the-month club and bat mitzvahs.

But we were never as close as we have been since the day almost 30 years ago when Toby, the common link between us, was diagnosed suddenly with a life-threatening illness. That became a turning point in all of our lives and in a deeply personal way made us appreciate every day.

We have celebrated all of our lifecycle events and countless sweet and memorable moments. The comfort of knowing that we are there for each other continues to sustain us. We have supported each other through weddings, all of our parents’ deaths and the recent loss
of Debbie’s husband. We are grateful for all that we have shared.

toby girls
Our 60th birthday gathering in Newport (Courtesy photo)

We Fall River girls are now a mix of retirees and those still actively engaged in fulfilling careers in higher education, nonprofit development, conflict resolution and community engagement, marketing and retail entrepreneurship. For the most part, our mothers were stay-at-home moms, as was the norm in the ’50s and ’60s, but they all pursued part-time jobs and volunteer activities that laid the groundwork for us to follow our passions. Each of us has made a difference in our fields. And hopefully the grounding, love and support of our parents is the legacy that we are passing on to the next generation. Happily, now we all have time to pursue interests in travel, applied art and volunteerism while spending quality time with our grandchildren.

Over the years we celebrated our 50th and 60th birthdays with weekend sleepovers full of gourmet meals cooked together, long walks, intimate conversations and a lot of laughter.

As we turned 70 in 2020, our friendship is stronger than ever. In our most recent Zoom gathering, Gail held a sleeping granddaughter (her first), Cheryl’s son from Denver was a guest visitor and Linda was rowing in San Francisco Bay with her cell phone wedged in the footplate of her boat.

Our well-planned 70th birthday trip to Portland, Maine—replete with food and culture tours, spa pampering, shopping and music—was derailed by the pandemic and is now rescheduled for 2021.

I can’t wait. None of us can!

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