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How my girlfriends rescued me

December 18, 2012

By Michal Ann McArthur,
Bend writer

Silver Prize Winner ($35) in Oregon Women’s Report “Thank You, Girlfriend” contest

I shudder to think where I’d be without my girlfriends.
Probably in some dark corner gorging on chocolate or sucking my thumb.

We lived in Corvallis for twenty years, so you can imagine the deep and meaningful friendships I developed over those years. I loved everything about Corvallis, especially my friends, but I also enjoyed the lush vegetation. When we purchased our first home, I immediately went crazy making flower beds and planting innumerable bulbs and annuals and perennials. My yard was a glory of color splashed everywhere. Well, almost everywhere. I optimistically kept planting pansies, but every year some varmint or fungus—I never knew what, but I’m sure it was evil—snuck in and destroyed my sweet little blooms. I simply couldn’t grow a pansy in my yard to save my socks.

The day came when my husband’s job forced us to move to Bend. I was honestly devastated. I didn’t want to leave my gardens, and I certainly didn’t want to leave my girlfriends. Uprooting and leaving them was excruciating. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I drove our trusty 4-Runner, loaded with last-minute necessities and fragile breakables, through the forests, over Santiam Pass, and into the . . . desert? Eeeek! Tan and grey for miles and miles. The lack of green and the absence of familiar faces absolutely sucked the life out of me. I thought I’d die.

A few months later, two of my Corvallis girlfriends came to my rescue. Like two heroes galloping in on white steeds to rescue a damsel in distress, they came riding into town to cheer me up. Oh, it was so great to see them. They brought me a tub of bright pansies, which I happily placed on my front steps for a spot of color. I was immensely encouraged.

Well, heartened by my friends’ visit, I began making new friends while those pansies grew thick and lush in their little tub and bloomed profusely all summer. That fall, I put my tub away for winter, thinking that was the end of the story. But here’s the wonderful thing: The following May, volunteer pansies sprang up in the apron of soil around my front porch where, unbeknown to me, seeds from my friends’ pansies had blown.

For the past twelve years, those rambunctious flowers have been thriving and multiplying. Every time I see them, they remind me of the power girlfriends have to encourage. They also show me that friendships can spread from heart to heart and spring up in new places.

And hey, I’ve come to love living in Bend. Where else could I grow such fabulous pansies?

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Discuss this article

Glee Fan December 18, 2012

i like pansies too. I let my neighbor grow them for me. I am so lucky. lazy.

Lydia December 18, 2012

Moving to a new town many miles and hours away is always a big move of the heart, weighs heavy on the mover. You leave everything and what I miss most is my friends. hard to start anew. Facebook friends, not the same, as I see it, as those who stop by unannounced just to say hi. You are fortunate Ann for your friends and your story.

anon December 18, 2012

Everyone loves Central Oregon. That’s why they spend so much money and time coming to Sunriver.

Kay December 18, 2012

Wonderful story of friendship and new growth…healing through the pansies! You have bloomed beautifully where God has planted you. Though you are truly missed in Corvallis, dear friend. =)

Terisa December 18, 2012

Thought provoking comparison………..girlfriends and volunteer pansies! Sure glad you were transplanted to our neck of the woods.

T. Taylor December 18, 2012

Beautifully written, Ann. You have a way of drawing me into the story.

I had a similar experience 13years ago when my husband retired and wanted to relocate. I still remember the pain of the first few years in our new community. I would sit in my car at the grocery store parking lot and cry as I watched people laugh and converse in their way in to do their shopping. It was a very lonely time. I missed my life long friends and the thrill of a new city had worn thin. Oh the many desperate phone calls I made to my girlfriends. They were a source of comfort and strength. A new season has dawned and my life is filled with many new friends. Your article reminds me of the importance of friends but also of the kind of friend I hope to be.

admn December 18, 2012

Flower says so much.

Even more in this case

Olivia December 18, 2012

Beautifully said. In the Navy, we moved every two to four years nfor twenty-three years. The hardest thing was saying good-bye to our friends. The best thing? I knew there would be more wonderful friends next time and there were. They were always there and we all played a part in each others lives, first as new wives, often alone, then as new moms, then moms with toddlers, grade schoolers, women alone but together . . . We all supported each other no matter where we were. Now, after so many years, we are still friends around the country and around the world. Friendship is like love–the more you give, the more you have.

Lisa in CO December 18, 2012

What a wonderful story. It is really hard to move, but if you can keep in touch with your friends at your old location, it makes it much easier!

Andrea Parunak December 18, 2012

What a wonderful story! And what lovely inspiration to reach out and make new friends!

Kathi December 18, 2012

Lovely story about the power of friendship! I have had a similar experience with irises being shared by a friend and then being able to share clumps later with others. My girl friends have made a life of “sanity” possible during the hard times, and have multiplied joys at all times!

Sue December 18, 2012

You have brought sweet memories to mind, and warmth to my heart. Leaving friends behind is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but some friendships last for eternity! Blooming where your planted makes the circle of friends larger, but never replaces the love of the sisterhood developed in the past. Thanks for the story!

Claryce December 18, 2012

Great story – Reminds me of a song my mom used to sing –Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the othter gold…

Ina December 19, 2012

Gold it is. Friends are priceless. Love & friendship has been found in the dry Central Oregon desert.

Aunt Steph December 19, 2012

Keep growing those pansies, keep the spirit alive

Carolyn December 19, 2012

Ah, the garden. Now I love in Anchorage and need to start all over again, myself. At least here I will have more daylight hours than in Bend.

Judyr December 27, 2012

I was a Naval Officer’s wife for 15 of my husband’s 20 yr career. I resonated with your story, Michal Ann. I know I grew through each move in ways that would not have happened otherwise. Thanks for so sensitively sharing your experience with a sweet message of hope.

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