"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Placing Pine Cones - Spending Treasure XIX

“Just place three little pine cones at the base of the tree like this,” she demonstrated. “That way if you are here first and I am late, I will know you decided to go on without me. I will do the same thing, if I decide not to wait.”  My best friend from grade school, Honey Wheeler, and I always tried to meet up in the mornings, so we could walk the mile to school together. It made the walk much more enjoyable.

Sometimes we would try to connect by phone before school, but it seemed like every time she would call, I would loose my place in line for the bathroom. It wasn’t easy growing up in a house with 4 kids and only one bathroom. So my friend and I devised an alternate plan. We would place pine cones at the base of the big, old pine tree that was just up from the corner of my street. Honey would walk across her pasture from her home at the base of the mountain, to meet me there every morning before school.

I don’t remember too much about how our plan worked, I only remember when it failed.

I arrived one morning and Honey was not waiting for me.  I checked the ground around the bottom of the tree and saw no pine cones.  But it was late!  I looked across the pasture toward the mountain, but did not see my friend. Since it was so late, I was convinced she had already been there, but simply neglected to place the pine cones. I didn’t take time to do it either, and headed off to school. When I finally saw my friend at school during recess, she exclaimed, “You didn’t place the pine cones!  I waited and waited and made myself late!” she lectured. I had let her down and I felt horrible.

I can hear her voice to this day! She wasn’t really mad; just surprised and well…let down. The pine cones were a thoughtful gesture, so we would each know what the other was doing...simply a message from a friend.

I have blogged about Honey before. That post explains why I am calling her Honey in this post. My friend also looked a good deal like the description of the Honey Wheeler in the Trixie Beldon series. She was a very pretty girl, thin and tall, with shoulder length auburn hair. She had a great sense of humor, an easy laugh and a sense of adventure that was contagious.

I have so many fond memories of her and our childhood years together. Like the time we galloped Midnight across pastures as we made our way down to the little pond that was a popular destination in our neighborhood.  Or like the time her dad let me ride their new little 3 year old mare, Go-Go. I remember I was so nervous. I knew they were still training her and I couldn’t believe he let me ride her. I usually rode Sandy the aging Palomino that her family had had for so many years; but mostly we rode double on Midnight to all kinds of adventure; some pretend and some real. We would sing together as we galloped, “Scarecrow! Scarecrow!” I no longer remember the words to that television theme song, and I don’t even remember what television show it was from, but the lyrics seemed to fit the adventure we were on for that day.

One time on our ride to the pond, we found a dead horse at the edges of the water. I didn’t know what to do, but Honey took the initiative and went to the house where the owners of the pond lived to seek help. I won’t go into that but simply to say, Honey always seemed to know what to do.

On another topic, Honey’s folks had given her tap dance lessons and ballet. Though for parents to do that for their children is fairly common today, it was somewhat rare at that time. I will never forget her excitement when she turned 13 and she took me to her room to show me her first new tap shoes that were high heals. She was so excited to finally be able to dance in heals. She put them on for me, and I admired them with all the excitement that had contagiously bubbled over from her unbridled expression of joy.
Raggedy Andy - 1967
Then there was the time she had the idea to dress up like Raggedy Ann and Andy for one of our school carnivals or some Junior High activity. Our moms made our costumes, and if I remember correctly, we won the contest for Best Costume that year. I, ended up being Andy. Honey was Raggedy Ann; it was her idea after all and that only seemed fair.

The memories are endless, it seems.  I would like to write them all down, before any more will be washed away with the tides of time.
I remember driving to the “larger-city-east” to visit her Grandma. I remember that large Victorian home located on the side of a hill. Though it was dark, and obvious her grandma could no longer care for it the way it was once cared for, I knew I loved that house. 

I remember going to the carnival that came to town. Rides were set up in the parking lot of the only mall in our area at the time. Honey talked me into riding that Octopus over and over and over.  “I won’t make it another time!” I told her.  “I feel like I am going to be sick.”

“Just one more?” she begged.

Shouldn’t have done that!  I got sick! When we got off the ride, Honey quickly found her mom to help. Her mom lovingly laughed, as only a mom can do, and then went into the clothing store at the mall and bought me a new pair of shorts. Mine were covered with my lunch!  I was grateful for those new shorts and convinced that a little thing like getting sick was not going to stop this dynamic duo.

We slept at each others’ homes and we had camp-outs on her property at the base of the mountain. When her family got their new fence made of wooden rails for their pastures, one of our favorite activities was seeing how long and how far we could balance ourselves walking those fence rails.

We laughed, and were goofy and talked about boys. Her mom and dad really liked me she had once told me…they thought I was good for Honey. The history teacher at school had told her parents the same thing. I’m pretty sure we were good for each other.

But Honey and I eventually went separate ways in high school. Over the years, (and it has been many) we reconnected from time to time. I visited her at her home when her new daughter arrived. When she and her husband moved south, I called when we were in their area with our semi-truck.  At some point, our friendship became only a Christmas card friendship. But oh how I looked forward to those Christmas cards!

Through no fault of her own, Honey’s life became a very difficult one. Tragedy struck Honey over and over and over.  I won’t go into it; it is her own private heartbreak. But I know no one that has endured what she had to endure. I knew the sadness of her heart. I tried to keep in close contact during the heartbreak of those times. A few years ago, she and her husband moved, and I lost track of her.

She didn’t make it to the high school reunion this year; but I knew she wouldn’t.  Members of our class fondly remembered her, though, and reminisced a bit. I found out where she had moved from a mutual friend. This friend had a message for me from Honey. Now that I knew where she had moved, I was very excited to make contact again. Now a month or so later, I am very grateful for that message I received at the reunion. I needed to hear it; especially now.

Life had gotten busy this summer, and I hadn’t yet called or wrote her. A week or so ago, I woke up to a new message on Facebook from one of our classmates: “It is with sadness of heart…”

It was a knife to my heart. I didn't call!! I couldn’t help but feel I let her down…again.  But I am so thankful I had received her message; that she had taken the time, that she had thought of me and wanted me to know it...Honey was always the one to place the pine cones where they should be.

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