March 29,2017: Denny

~by Susi Pittman

We meet people our whole life through that become casual acquaintances or dear friends. Both types, whether we acknowledge it or not, affect us in good or bad ways and help to form us into the person we are today. It is our prerogative that these encounters affect us in a positive or negative manner. Today, I speak to the positive effect that a dear childhood friend was in my life.

I had just started the third grade where I had struck up a wonderful friendship with a girl named Denny. She and I had become fast friends and looking back, it was the beginning of a life blessing.

My family had moved to a new city suburb where the adventure of meeting the new kids on the block was at fever pitch in my mind. It was a great block, full of families with children., a total of 19 kids right around my age.

My new-found neighborhood buddies were taking me around to meet other kids, stopping at a house where three sisters lived. We rang the doorbell whereupon the mother answered and called for the girls to come. To my greatest surprise, Denny came running from the back of the house. We stared at each other in shock and then leaped to each other with a “jumping” hug.

We lived three houses from each other. There were years of shared sleepovers, family vacations, birthdays, Christmases, school life, pets, talent shows and bike riding caravans. We shared our thoughts, our dreams and our secrets. We even became “blood” sisters, sneaking a sewing needle into the bedroom where we pricked out fingers to draw blood and pressed our fingers together in a pact to be sisters forever.

My father once again, moved the family to another side of town by the time I was twelve. It was the saddest day of my young life to have to leave Denny, my best friend. I never had another friend like her. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime meetings that does not come again. Her family also ended up moving to another state two years later.

We managed to stay in contact through the age of 14, even having her fly to meet my family and I  in the family home in the Smokey Mountains the summer of 1963.

We began to fade away from each other, the busy and complex life of moving from adolescence into the teen years clouded the past and demanded complete attention for the here-and-now.

So, I was watching a program called Long Lost Family on a recent evening,a show in which family members who have lost contact with each other, suffering almost a lifetime of separation from one another are reunited. Denny came to my mind. With all the new technology, there had to be a way to find her and we could reunite once again.

I went to the computer and tried to find her on Facebook. I recalled her parents name, her sisters, Denny’s baptismal name, where they had lived and schools she had attended. Nothing came up. So, I pursued further investigation on the internet and finally found her!

My dearest childhood friend had passed away in 2013. I could not believe it. I had waited too long.

As I read her obituary, I was filled with a sweet sadness and yet joy, for a life that had been lived so well.

She had become a registered nurse from Shepherd University and served in the United States Air Force as flight nurse. In 1991, she served as a flight nurse in Saudi Arabia and Oman during Operation Desert Storm with the 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia National Guard. She had lived in Washington D.C., moving to Alexandria, Virginia in her later years. She had borne two sons who loved her dearly. And like me, she had been actively involved with the ASPCA, sharing her love for animals with her beloved Jack Russell, Sammy. Denny had passed from natural causes, following complications from kidney failure. She was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Denny was the first person that from whom I learned how important fidelity was in relationship. She and I learned how to handle ill-willed people and we shared a love for church. Her family were church-going Lutherans and at the time, my family was Methodist or Baptist, depending on where Dad decided we should go that week. Denny and I learned that meeting life head-on with a smile and determination was a whole lot better, than letting life dictate anything else. We made each other better people.

I am sorry dear friend that we remained long, lost family. I look forward to the reunion that is to come in the presence of the One God who brought us together as a blessing to one another in this life.

Rest in peace.


Susi Pittman is founder of and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; a member of the St. John’ s Catholic Writers Guild;
a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the National Wildlife Federation, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.



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