Yesterday my Wesleyanne, my Pirate 2017–the one almost done with her first year of college–went in to work about an hour before I headed out for our Alumnae weekend festivities. She told me the night before that she thought she might drive up after work to play in the Alumnae/Student Soccer game. I was visiting with friends, new and old, when she came walking up on the loggia yesterday afternoon, ready to play.
I drove out to the new soccer field (not sure how long it has been out there, but it will always be the “new” one to me) to cheer a team on. On the one side my girl and her friends, on the other side friends I’ve had for twenty-eight years. What. On. Earth. (And no, I’m not telling who I was cheering for. There’s some things you get old enough to know better about.)
As the game wrapped up with laughter and hugs and pats on the backs, the Pirates of ’89 gathered on the steps of the covered deck. With my dear friend Oenone’s camera, I took pictures of this group of women who were such great role models and even better friends for me. With a lump in my throat, I introduced them to my Pirate, and asked if I could take a picture of her with them. That moment right there. And a tradition was passed along. Oenone put her pearls around Aub’s neck, saying it is a tradition for Pirates to play in pearls. Moments like this are when I look back at 1986 Tara and whisper in her ear, “That whole college decision thing? You chose well.”
As we were all leaving the soccer fields and heading back towards front campus for other events, some of our friends needed rides, as they had walked out to the new field from the old one and it was H.O.T. hot. I had the privilege of being accompanied by the scarf-maker who could. In the five minutes it took us to get to front campus, we were deep in conversation. We found a couple of rockers and commenced to visiting. Aub joined us a few minutes later and the laughter and near tears that passed among us were the stuff that the best of memories are made of. My scarf-maker friend, this woman who takes Chances and makes things happen, walked with us over to the loggia overlooking the fountain where we would be eating soon. She looked down at all below us and then back at Aub.
She motioned for Auburn. “Come with me. Mom, you stay here.”
I saw them go down the marble stairs I’d gone up and down so many times over the years, probably the most significant of which was when I was married by that fountain in 2002. They seemed lost in conversation as they headed over to the door that opened up to the post office and bookstore. As she opened the door for Aub, my friend waved up at me. They smiled, and then they headed back.
I stood and looked out at the preparations for our fiesta by the fountain while I waited. When they came back up, both were beaming.
“I just passed along a new tradition. You want to hear the story?”
I nodded. Traditions. That’s my middle name. Daddy used to say, Look out, if you do anything more than once, it becomes a tradition with Tara. So of course I wanted to know this story.
“You remember Rita Delaney Harris?” she asked. I nodded. I had seen her name in the Annual Meeting program that morning. She passed away this past year. She was a non-traditional older student, who was a senior my freshman year.
“It was my freshman year. I was walking over to go in that door, and Rita was heading that way too. I started to open the door for her, but she stopped me, reaching out and opening the door for me. And she said, ‘No, let me. And may this be the first of many doors opened for you.'”
Is it okay to say that I was about to cry?
Okay or not, it’s the truth.
What a precious lady. To think that something that may have seemed so simple and that happened twenty-nine years ago still touches my friend. That it made such a lasting impression on her heart.
Now she has opened a door for my girl, wishing for her many more open doors in her future.
Oh good gravy.
Is there anything more precious that having someone you love and respect sharing love and light with your young’un?
Tonight I am thankful for sisterhood. But it’s more than that really. Sisterhood at Wesleyan is like the beautiful handkerchief I got from my Great Aunt. I always have it. It’s an heirloom passed down from one generation to the next. I tuck it in my pocket or my purse or the top drawer of my dresser. I always feel the comfort of the memories it brings me, and I appreciate that I have it now, after all of these years. It dries my tears from laughter and from the hard times. A treasure that is beautiful yet still quite functional. I don’t tuck it away and never use it again. Keeping it close only adds to the memories, and that is where so much joy comes from. Keeping my sisters close, and sharing the memories of yesterday, the joys and sorrows of today, and the dreams for tomorrow.
Thank you Pirates 1989 for showing my girl what being a Pirate is all about. “Guidelines only, laughter, pearls, and loving your sisters fiercely.” And sharing grace and love by opening doors for each other every Chance we get.
Go take a chance and do something great for someone, no matter how small it seems. I bet you’ll be surprised how far it goes.
Love to all. And pearls. Always pearls. 😉