Ten years ago today I said goodbye to my best friend.
We met in the sunset of our lives. It’s not an uncommon occurrence that two women become best of friends in the Red Hat Society. This disorganization of women over fifty has grown in exponential proportions since its inception only a few years ago. It fills the need for those women over fifty to gather together to celebrate life with fun and frivolity. And that is exactly what we do. We do it with whim and wit flaunting our age in shades of purple topped off with brilliant red hats.
When I learned about this society of women, I felt that my conservative and shy nature made me an unlikely candidate for such a prominent public display of splendorous glitz. Under the guise of a dare I coerced a few old friends into buying red hats, purple dresses, and showing up for high tea at a local tea room. We giggled under our bright red brims, a conspicuous spectacle of color amid the dainty pink and white décor. Due to a few inquiring ladies with sense of admiration we emerged a couple of hours later with our hats tilted with a new attitude (hat-itude). The next day I registered with Hat Quarters as Queen of the newfound RHS Molls.
The Molls chapter has now grown into an eclectic group of over sixty members and while I enjoy the exaltedness of being a queen, so contrary to my life before red hats, the biggest reward has been my bond with one special new friend. She walked into my life with a handful of silly purple clappers, the biggest grin ever, and the heartiest of all laughs. We had the same purpose in mind… pure fun. And fun we have, time and again.
Neither one of us had a single clue that the biggest problems in our lives would be our biggest bond. It happened a few months after we met when I shared with her a rather personal reason for my escape into this society of women. Her face dropped as she blurted out her reason. While our situations were different, we shared equally desperate challenges. The point is not what we suffered from but how we would take care of each other. We allowed each other the space to share the daily trials in our life and then we moved past that into fun and friendship. We learned that sharing the grief, with compassion and a good sense of humor lessened the burdens and intensified the fun.
This friendship that developed was far beyond the friendships of my youth. For me the young friends came and went as we grew apart in our individuality, moved on, or moved away. My life has been a journey with turbulent twists and turns. But as I settle into my second half of life and learn who I have become through these circumstances of life, the growing pains recede. I begin to let go of the past and enjoy a new set of friends; friends, who know and like each other for who we are today.
There is a new set of dynamics however in these recent relationships. Youth behind us we now realize the evidence of our temporary existence as friends, old and new, begin to pass on. And so, this special friend and I shared our last days together in sadness and in joy. Together, we cherished the journey and the gifts of each day.
Rest in peace my dear friend. I miss you every day.
Indulgence would be my word of choice for this day of celebration for the RHS Molls. What better way to honor a 15th anniversary of our Red Hat Society chapter than tea at the best tea parlor in the town of Niles (actually a district within the city of Fremont)? Tyme for Tea tops our list of favorite places in the east bay to experience a genuine three course Victorian tea service. Note if you plan to go there, reservations are required.
But food is not the only indulgence for this lively group of magical women. We must next pay the consequences of ingesting all that delicious food; we burned off the condiments of our scones as we browsed the the antique shops along Niles Boulevard. Let’s just say some of us were more enticed than others to drop a few bucks off in exchange for valuable items of a vintage era.
Hospitality is another plus for this small town. Throngs of people begged to take our photos. Well, maybe only half a dozen people asked. But that was expected being this is Friday. I’m quite sure we’d have a bigger audience on the weekend. Craig from Iron Dog Antiques was kind enough to take a photo of a few of us with his car when we promised we would shop in his store. Lots of interesting stuff in there.
We part with hugs and well wishes knowing we have plenty of reasons to revisit this area soon.There may be a train ride on the Niles Canyon Railway in the future. Or maybe one of these adventures recommended by Hidden SF.
Indulge yourself. You deserve it!