Joyce and her mushroom friends greet me in the morning hours close to the lake where we walk. People around this neighborhood stop and talk. I met her this way a few years ago, when I had just moved in town.
She was walking her dog, an ailing fellow who was on his last legs, and was slowly encouraging him to keep moving. I slowed down, matched their pace, worried about adjusting to my new status as a retiree.
"You just took a good step," she said, and when I looked confused, she added, "you stopped and talked to us, me and Bobby. You'll have no problem making friends in town."
She was right. In less than a year, I ran for school board, joined the democratic party, and signed up to read in the SMART program. Within months, I had more work lined up than I could do in an eight hour day. I saw her around that first year and thought she was too old to be a good friend. I don't think she thinks I'm too young to be her friend.
I wish the relationship I have with my children could be this good. We are open and generous with each other. She reads my mind, divines my silences. When I am her age, I want to feel and act and look just like her. Did I mention that she drives to all her activities?
I was wrong. She has become a good friend in many ways. We walk together, are in a reading club, SMART, and the writers' group. She reads my stories and comments with candor and truthfulness. I read her stories and point out certain things. We are good for each other. My mother would be proud of me.