(Painting: A Lady by the Sea by John Simmons)
I was the eldest of a lively bunch of children, but at the age of 16, I sometimes longed for a friend my own age. It was in the middle of this longing that a 16 year old girl named Angela Rogers appeared at our door with her Mother, Ruth. In a small town, news travels fast, and they had heard about us. Wanting to make sure that I was comforted a little from this drastic change (being transplanted Alaskans), they visited to extend an invitation to my sister and me to spend a weekend at their holiday home in Crayfish Creek.
The only way to describe my first impression of Angela is with the word "breathless." She was everything from a Robert Burns poem and a romantic novel combined. There she stood next to me as though she was sent by heaven. Now I saw the romantic ladies of novels. Dressed in a cape and matching tam, she stood beside me, catching her btreath as though she had been in a hurry to meet me. Her hair was long, curly strawberry blonde, though not quite a redhead. She had soft, fair skin, with lips painted in an apricot color from Rimmel, misted with the scent of 4711 (or was it 1001?) cologne, British brands that seemed exotic to a girl like me from the northern woods.
The weekend at Crayfish Creek was enchanting. Angela's family maintained some traditions from their Scottish heritage, as well as common Tasmanian customs in conversation, food, and life at home. It was here in their summer home that we were shown how to toast English muffins in the fireplace and prepare them with butter and honey. I thought this was ten times better than toast and have not forgotten the smell and taste of that first bite, sitting next to Angela. What a glorious time this was, as we ate our breakfast and looked out the big window facing the sea.
Angela posessed a loveable humor with easy come-backs to anything that attempted to dissuade her. She was a possibility thinker. "Do not give any heed to such things!" She said this when any discouragement reared its ugly head. She was also the oldest of her family, and quite responsible. She came out to Cowrie Point every weekend until I moved away, and then, I did not see her again. My Mother told me she had married the same time I had married, and was living on King Island with her husband, who was a builder.
I did not see Angela for over 40 years but thought of her often throughout the busy decades.
When I finally located her and we visited again, I was astonished at the many parallels in our lives. She too was married over 40 years and had children near the same ages as my own. She had a bed and breakdast while I had a tea room. We owned similar furnishings and antiques in our homes. She also hosted a ladies Bible class on Thursdays in her home, which existed for several years, just as I, on the same day of the week and same time.
The first thing she said to me when we met again, was, "We had a wonderful childhood, didn't we? And what great parents we had!" It was due to both our Mother's persistence that we became friends.
She is a very uncritical person, unlikely to cut anyone down, having no jealousies. I like the balanced view she portrayed of accepting the unpleasant along with the pleasant, forgiving the bad experiences and going on to create good ones.
My favorite picture of her is one that I took while she stood under a tree of white blossoms 40 years later. She resembled a pretty porcelin doll. I liked her just as much as the day I met her when we were both 16 years old. Her friendship turned the shock of sudden change into a beautiful, breathless event.
Angela's husband and mine got along very well. My husband said he was the first person in a long time who used the words "Beg youse?" for "beg your pardon" and it was good to hear a phrase that was once common. Even though it was used in Australia decades ago, he remembered it as a common saying on his Grandparent's farm in Kansas where he spent his summers.