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“Shelly Dubinsky on 514 in 10 minutes”

Ever had a friend who called or texted you when a certain movie was on or when a certain scene was coming up?

The movie in question doesn't have to be a fine film. And the particular scene might not be morally uplifting. But this friend wanted to alert you nonetheless. 

Friends! No matter what

Tomorrow is my birthday, but today it is Steve’s birthday. I love Steve..no! Not that kind of love. The I love- you-no- matter-what kind of love that friends have. And there has been a lot of no-matter-what.

Steve is wild, a word used to describe me about four times in my life. He has vacillated between addiction and recovery over the last decades.  We connect only a few times during the year. Still…

We have shared this birthday bond since we met the first day of college. He was dating my roommate. He did that more than once. When she dumped him sophomore year, he landed in Florence the following year with me and 90 others. He surprised me on my 21st birthday that year when he escorted me to various bars and then opened the door to a favorite Florence restaurant where our friends yelled “surprise!” Friends, including a man I did “love with that kind of love.”  During dessert Steve leaned over to me to confess his love – for my good friend. I giggled and said, “You’ll be happier when you tell her!” He did. They dated for the next few years.

When he married Mary Jane, I read scripture at their wedding. When I married, they drove over the mountains to attend; Steve put his arm around me at the reception and whispered outrageous comments in my ear. I laughed uproariously in a most unbride-like fashion.  He always makes me laugh – I am his best audience.

When my uncle died, Steve dressed up and sat in the back of the church; I looked at his smiling face when I delivered the eulogy. He kept my tears in check. And when Mary Jane died, I sat next to him at her funeral.

We are unlikely friends. Someone once asked, “What is it between you two?” I am not sure, except that I know there is a kind and gentle soul that lives in that man – sober or not - a kindness I adore. The disease often masks that true nature, but I refuse to be fooled.  And every February 2,  I call him, to tell him of my gratitude for years of memories, gentle moments, good conversations – and birthdays shared.

Happy birthday, Steve. ..All my love, Caterina

Who are the unlikely “friends-no-matter-what” in your life?

(Photo: Cathy and Steve on Cathy's wedding day)

Friendship, now, forever

My good friend would be 76 -years -old today; she died last year. Yet, we will remember and celebrate her life today.  Her humor and grace remain. And, oh, those stories!

 When I brought my fiancé to meet her, she gushed over him with oozing charm and then with a straight face said, "Oh, Cathy, he's not as homely as you said he was!"  Fortunately, my man knew she was kidding. We once "upgraded" the artwork in our boss's office with paint-by-number Jesus art and hideous knitted decor  ..Mostly, when I needed comfort, she showed up: I was experiencing a complicated miscarriage and she came and sat with me…when my husband was recovering from cancer surgery, she braved a violent thunderstorm, and sat with us in our power-is-out, cold-in-here  house, and when my dad died, she flew across the country to attend his funeral service.

 She suffered from debilitating arthritis, but her own pain did not stop her from showing up, staying close when other people were suffering and needed her.  I miss her in the moments of my life - when I hear a good joke, when I hear someone in pain, when I simply want to relax in the comfort of a knowing friend.

 Today, I will pray at Mass in thanksgiving for our friendship and her gifts that remain. And share breakfast with her family. And know that her soulful presence fills our hearts, always.

 How do you remember loved ones after they are gone?

Trusted friends and the weather…

Good morning, Netizens…

See? In all the fury and cry you missed out completely when one of my personal mentors, M. Hibbs, left town for one of my favorite places, Cody, Wyoming, and then tiptoed back into town all without so much as a how-de-doo by anyone. Readers of lowly Community Comment assume that I am the sole captain of this barge or that I have the temerity to steer it myself, but no. Not one day goes by but what I do not sense his presence watching from behind the curtain, watching my every keystroke, until he goes out of town to someplace from whence he would rather not connect to the Internet for business and/or recreation.

We often sneak off, when he is in town, to quiet meals at one or another of our favorite eateries, and talk over food with the candor that one only accords to two trusted old friends who have been testing the waters of their friendship for several decades and not finding it wanting. That isn’t to say we agree on every testy issue. Oh, God no. That would simply be too predictable, too accommodating, that we would agree on some of the most-contentious issues that rise to the surface of the boiling pot.

As a late and honored writer who once taught me a great deal about the craft of journalism said, “I had very few close personal friends when I started this job, and each time I write my column, I lose a few more.” She probably would howl with derision if she could read this, as the sentences are too wordy, which would most certainly bring out her red pen. Snick snick. One whole column into the bit bucket. She, too, was one of my mentors, albeit one who also taught me about having trust among friends.

I have written before, perhaps too many times, about M. Hibbs’ barometric bushy eyebrows, by which I can best judge which way the winds are blowing. One eyebrow is slightly elevated? That indicates polite skepticism. Neither elevated? Hibbs is simply waiting for the next bomb to fall. Both eyebrows, in their elegance at the top of his forehead? Oh, Lord. I’ve gone and done it now. If the gaffe is really a dandy, he may even take his glasses off to better consider how much of my skin to remove.

As I said at the beginning of this missive, I trust his judgment, much the same as I trust Jeanie Buchanan, who stands tall in my mind as a woman of courage and humor. But the list of other trusted friends is short. I always listen to my wife, who like all other friends, sometimes disagrees with my opinion, but I listen nonetheless.

Recently I watched my wife depart for week’s sojourn in Nebraska, and with witnesses, I am here to admit the time she was gone I was miserable. I just received a phone call from Northern Idaho, and it is snowing there. Both Hibbs and my wife are back home, and I am still miserable. This is supposed to be the Month of June. Oh, dear.