BY SHIRLEY LAZARETH
Special to the Voice
Britannica defines “Friendship” as a state of enduring affection, esteem, intimacy and trust. In all cultures friendships are important relationships throughout a person’s life span. My own personal friendship with a true, loyal, forever friend began with Rachel, and has lasted more than 63 years, beginning in the fall of 1958.
My husband, my little boy, and I had just moved to a newly developed suburb, north of the Pen Centre in St. Catharines. I, a young mother already, was expecting our second child in a few weeks. I was deliriously happy. As fate would have it, I met my first unforgettable neighbour, a young, attractive woman with a darling three-month-old baby boy. Though she and I were direct opposites in looks and personalities—she, poised and calm, me, talkative and always in flight—we hit it off. I was over the moon. I had found a new friend! We have been good friends ever since and have weathered good and bad times together. We “girls” have become even closer as the years go by.
But this story is not about my friendship. It is about a most unique, unusual, ongoing friendship brought on, in part by a rabbit, a fuzzy, furry, inanimate rabbit, who one day nearly fell apart. This story is about a friendship which transcended generations, time, space, life and death. So let’s begin!
My mother, Molly, was born July 27, 1913 in London, England. She came to Canada on a troop ship in 1919 with her mother and her mother’s new husband, a wounded soldier. The ship was filled with Canadian troops gratefully returning home to Canada after serving in World War I.
Molly grew up from age 6 on in Port Colborne, attending school there, then working, meeting my dad, marrying, losing her job because she was married, having me and five years later my sister, Margaret. Molly led an ordinary lady-like life—home, church, volunteer work and always plenty of pets to nurture.
When my dad died in 1997 from Alzheimer’s complications, she moved to Fonthill to be closer to me. She was 84. In 2000 she took up residence at Shorthills Villa. It is here our story truly begins. On July 27, 2013, our local insurance agent, a beautiful, kind and caring young woman, gave birth to a darling daughter, Abby, exactly 100 years to the day from Molly’s date of birth. Did the planets align? Did the sun and the moon and the stars shine ever brighter? Was this all meant to be? It was my ongoing dream to have Molly meet little Abby when the time was right.
Finally when Abby was four she came to visit the little old lady living at Shorthills Villa, with whom she shared a common birthday. By this time Molly was in a wheelchair having broken her hip at 101. Upon meeting, the two appraised each other for a minute or two. Abby was fascinated with the wheelchair and soon attempted to push her new friend for a little spin. She delighted in this activity and struggled to perfect her technique. Molly delighted in the ride, singing songs to Abby and reciting her childhood poems.
The two became friends in this very unorthodox setting. It was fun to watch the two of them, one so young and full of life, and one much older but with a childlike joy, a radiant smile and a twinkle in her eye. She was enjoying every minute. My heart was full to the brim watching the simple pleasure they shared together. We watched their friendship thrive and grow.
In May 2018 Molly passed away. She was nearly 105. This happy lady died as she had lived, with a smile upon her lovely face. That summer we held a memorial “party” in her honour, and Abby and her mom were invited to attend. During the service I called upon the two to come to the front so I could make a small presentation to Abby. As a remembrance of Molly, I had found a little fuzzy rabbit which Molly took to bed each night, probably for the 18 years she had called Shorthills home. We had had the rabbit dry-cleaned and she looked perky and cute and ready for a new home. She found a loving friend in Abby.
But recently Molly the rabbit (as Abby named her) began to lose not her marbles, but her stuffing. Her seams popped loose and dried beans began to make their escape. Fortunately, Abby’s grandpa is handy with needle and thread, the rabbit is stitched together, her jacket patched and washed so all is well once more. Abby’s love for my mom endures through her love for the rabbit.
Now, though only 8, Abby has become a wonderful part of our daily lives. She found a friend, a friend she chose to love. She is learning that you need not be the same age or gender or culture or generation to form a lasting friendship. Even death cannot deter you, nor rob you of your memories. All a true friendship really needs is enduring affection, respect and trust. A fuzzy, furry rabbit might help too. Or so I’ve been told. ◆
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