Sample Stories from the Book


Everything I Need to Know about Friendship I Learned from My Women Friends


ACCEPTS you, warts and all
in your potential
COMFORTS you when you're sad
DELIGHTS in your successes
EMPATHIZES with your struggles
FORGIVES you when you hurt her feelings, just as you do her
GIVES you time and attention
HUGS you. ..often
INSPIRES you to do your best
JUST loves you
KEEPS your secrets
LISTENS with her heart
MAKES you want to be a better person
NEVER judges you
OCCASIONALLY disappoints you 'cause she's human, too
POINTS out your good qualities when you forget
QUESTIONS you when you're about to do something really dumb
RESPECTS your boundaries
SHARES her hopes and fears with you
TELLS you the truth
UNDERSTANDS you, even when you don't understand yourself
VALUES your ideas and opinions
WILL do anything she can to help you
XTENDS a helping hand whenever you need it
YEARNS to hear from you when you're away
ZINGS with joy 'cause you're her friend


It was the end of the year -- Ruth Pawluk and I were savoring that wonderful eggnog latte that Starbucks serves only during December. We were both in a reflective mood, thinking about the people who were most important in our lives.

"I have this wonderful friend, Brunetta," Ruth said as she blew softly at the foam on her latte. "She and I are an unlikely pair of friends, at least on the surface. Brunetta is 92 and I'm 39; she is black and I am white; she has been married three times and I haven't had even one husband yet!"

I laughed at the plaintive tinge in her voice when she got to the husband part. Ruth laughed too.

"I met Brunetta about ten years ago and we have been fast friends ever since," Ruth continued. "On the surface we seem very different, but underneath we are really kindred spirits. We are both educated, well-traveled, worldly, and in the theater. Brunetta's third husband was a well-respected off-Broadway producer, and she's regaled me with stories of her show business life - BBQs with Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe, being escorted to an opening night by Sean Connery, being seated next to Jean Renoir, and glamorous things like that. Brunetta's husband died just as he was hitting the big time, and James Earl Jones gave the eulogy at his funeral.

"She has had an amazing, exciting life - living for a time in Europe, a passion for bullfighting, a dangerous love affair, working with Langston Hughes and Lorraine Hansbury in Chicago, and so much more. The thing that has most impressed me about Brunetta is her story about how her life really began at 52. She left her husband in the Midwest and moved to New York just because she loved the theatre - can you imagine that? This renegade black woman leaving her marriage and her security to traipse off to New York and start a new life in her fifties! She calls that the beginning of her halcyon years - and that has always given me hope."

"Hope?" I ask Ruth, "Hope for what?"

"Hope that my life can still be wonderful. I feel like I've been so slow to blossom - not married yet, no kids, no house, I drive an old car, and I'm nowhere near the level of achievement I would have expected by now. I feel like I'm just beginning to take my acting and theatre work seriously - and here I am, thirty-nine already!

"But Brunetta has taught me that life is ongoing - that even in the middle of life, one can pick up and create something totally new. If Brunetta's halcyon years began at 52, then there's hope for me! I can change course anytime I want - at 52, 62, 72 - or even 39."

"Sounds like she's a really important friend," I reply.

"She is. And I miss her. She lives back in Chicago now, with her sister Lillian, who cares for her in the loving manner she deserves," Ruth said. "I call her when I need to talk about what's happening in the world, in my life, and when I just need to talk to someone older and wiser than me. And sometimes I call just to check in and see how my soul-sister is doing. Having Brunetta in my life reminds me not to look back with regret at time wasted, but rather look forward to what's still to come."