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Do you remember that poster from the 70s that said "A friend is someone who knows everything about you and still likes you anyway"?
We're fortunate if we can find such a person in this life-someone who accepts you for who you are, doesn't try to change you and knows your deepest, darkest secrets and never passes judgment, loves you unconditionally and makes every moment you spend together an adventure.
I've really been blessed to find a friend like that in Denise Matthews.
Our friendship is relatively young (12 years) considering our advanced ages, but in all that time she's been there for me through thick and thin.
To delve into all the traits that make up Denise would take more space than I can afford.
Our mischief and our long list of adventures would take even more.
This past weekend, Denise and her oldest daughter Ashley came for a three-day visit.
For days prior to their arrival I was just like a child anticipating a visit from Santa Claus.
I told the guys at work that whenever Denise is around, I am no longer a middle- aged woman with responsibilities and maturity.
Whenever we're together I get to be-in my mind-21 again and what fun it is.
Ashley and Denise left after work Thursday. Now for anyone else, it would have been a seven-hour road trip.
"What time are you expecting them?" Tom asked.
"Oh, 3 a.m.," I said.
I wasn't wrong. Ten hours after work, I looked out my window and saw Ashley waving from the yard.
After toting in enough luggage, snacks and drinks to last two or three months, we settled into conversation.
Ashley soon gave up on us and went to bed-the young don't have the endurance that we older women do. At 6:30 a.m. I suggested we turn in.
With only a few hours of sleep, we set out for a fun-filled weekend that included two beach trips, a state park, Lebanon Station, lots of food, shopping and of course, talk, talk, talk.
Even though there are huge gaps in our get togethers, we manage to pick up right where we left off.
And because she's a newspaper editor, too, she's someone to commiserate with about work.
Like the manatee, Denise has no-known predators, unless you count a former school superintendent and high school principal who disagree with her journalism standards.
She talks to complete strangers, bakes cakes for clubs she's sent to report on, coughs up money she doesn't have for people with sob stories, carries chicken to anyone she thinks is hungry (her husband is a systems analyst for a huge poultry company, thus the cheap chicken) and is the first one around to soothe a fevered brow.
If spouses took on Denise's characteristics, there would be no divorce.
If governments emulated her approach to life, there would be more trust by the people.
No doubt she could negotiate world peace if she could get in a room with warring factions. If they weren't persuaded by the chicken and cake, she'd talk sense into them, or else they'd agree just to get away from her.
Indeed, I am blessed. I only hope I am half the friend to others that Denise is to me.