When I opened the door to womanhood, the world appeared as a smorgasbord of countless possibilities. I was eighteen years old and the queen of my life, and I was about to gorge myself on the goodness that awaited me. The most vivid memory of that seminal year happened on a Friday afternoon. I was driving down a country road in an old convertible with my girlfriends, the sun splashing across the windshield as we shrieked with laughter about some absurd thing that I’ve long since forgotten. Out of nowhere it began to rain, and while the droplets ran down our faces like liquid joy, we held our hands high in the air and proclaimed ourselves anointed with the promise of the brightest futures imaginable.
I felt invincible that day. I imagine we all did.
Oh, the high-minded misconceptions of youth. I had no way of knowing that my euphoria was a temporary thing—that I would be visited by sorrows and heartache—some of which would knock me to my knees. Nor did I know that one of us in the car wouldn’t live to see her twenty-first birthday. Yet as I look back over the years of struggles and perplexities and triumphs of life, I marvel at how one thing has remained constant.
Men come and go. Careers change. Family scatters. But girlfriends are there for the long haul—I like to think of them as diamonds for my soul. No matter where life takes them, girlfriends are never farther away than a phone call or an email. They are the Super Glue that holds us together when our lives are unraveling. Whether they live next door, across town, or across the country, our girlfriends are always at the ready. They laugh with us, cry with us, and cheer us on. They revel in our successes and they love us when we’re at our worst just as much as they love us when we’re on top of the world.
I’m celebrating the women who have blessed my life in endless ways, and I’d like to introduce you to some of them. I’ll add more photos as time passes, so please stop back!
This beautiful woman is my best friend, Marlane Vaicius. She’s smart, funny, and downright wise. She’s also my neighbor. Now how lucky can I be! Though her career takes her traveling all over the country, she miraculously manages to be a selfless friend, a fabulous wife, and a master gardener. Without her, I might have had a meltdown while writing Saving CeeCee Honeycutt. Marlane kept me laughing, and through her unwavering belief in my story, I kept believing, too. She was there from word one until I typed the end. We even went to Savannah together when I did research for my novel, and that trip created priceless memories. If I had to sum up the qualities that I most admire in a woman, I’d simply say two words—Marlane Vaicius.
I always wanted a little sister, but that was never meant to be. And then one day this lovely young woman came into my life, and BAM, my wish came true. Debra Kreutzer is one of the strongest women I’ve ever known, and I don’t mean physically (though she certainly is no stranger to hard work). She has rock solid values and possesses the kind of life-wrought wisdom of people twice her age. An animal rights advocate, archeologist, and a teacher, Deb is also a talented and accomplished quilt maker. She has a wonderfully quirky sense of humor that I adore. Deb was one of the early readers of my novel, and from the get-go she cheered me on. I’m hopeful that one day she’ll move to Kentucky so we can see each other more often. I’m so proud to call her friend.
This stunning photograph is a self-portrait of my friend Margaret (Meggie) Vincent. Meggie is a highly creative spirit who excels in many diverse areas—most notably photography. A lawyer, a lover of the written word, and a veritable diva of digital imagery, Meg delights and inspires with her photographs and her observations of life that extend far beyond the camera’s lens. On a particularly difficult day (all we authors have them) when I wasn’t sure if a passage in my novel was right, it was Meggie who convinced me that I was, indeed, on the mark. Now, if only I could convince her to start her own photography studio! I know she’d make a brilliant photojournalist. Please take a moment and view some of Meg’s photograph collections, you’ll be glad you did.
You are now looking at the face of an angel on earth. Her name is Marie Behling and she is an old soul packed full of love and kindness. Italian by heritage, she’s the endearing kind of friend who makes you eat pasta as you sob out your woes. Marie is a deeply spiritual woman with an unshakable faith, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Marie has taught me much about the game of life—most specifically when to hold ‘em … and when to fold ‘em. From Marie I learned the value of forgiveness, and also, what it truly means to not cast pearls before swine. And, as she loves to point out, she is never wrong. I can attest to the accuracy of that statement. Marie is very dear to me, and I’m blessed to have her in my life.
This beautiful smile belongs to my friend, Lora Young. Lora and I met in an airport. Our plane was delayed and we began talking. I told her that I was a novelist on my way to Manhattan to meet with my literary agent, Catherine Drayton, and my publisher, Pamela Dorman. Well, Lora’s eyes lit up, and she told me that she was in the midst of writing a non-fiction book. That old adage is true! It really is a small world. Lora and I blabbed about writing all the way to Manhattan, and we even shared a ride to our respective hotels—I felt as if I known her for all my life, and as it turns out, she felt the same way. And now we’re girlfriends! As soon as her book is finished and in the hands of a publisher (which I believe will be soon), I’ll post about it here!
This fabulous woman with the radiant smile and grease smeared on her hands is Gigi Meenan (aka Corvette Gigi), and she’s just as good at fixing Corvettes and racing them as she is at being a true girlfriend. I’ve known Gigi for a long time, and beyond possessing the ultimate voice of reason, she’s also one of the wittiest women I know. I can’t count how many times she’s made me laugh so hard that I thought I choke! I’m still waiting for the day when we apex through the curves together, and though I suspect Gigi would probably blow my doors off, I’d never hold it against her—well, not for too long. You can visit her by clicking here: www.corvettegigi.com
This woman with the beaming smile and twinkle in her eye is my friend, Sue Skidmore. Sue is a RN, a lover of books, animals, and sewing. She also has one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever known. She genuinely cares about people, and she is always at the ready to lend a hand, to listen, and to show up at your doorstep if you’re in trouble, feeling ill, or having a melt-down. Sue cheered me on and supported me the entire time I spent writing Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and I’m grateful for her friendship.
This redheaded beauty with the devilish smile is my girlfriend, Mary Frye. And see that ocean in the background? Well, it’s no secret that Mary’s heart is just as wide and deep! Mary is smart, quick, and witty, and, she can be relied upon (24/7) for excellent advice. No matter what’s happening in my life, she can easily whip up the conversation and make me laugh myself sick! She’s one of those people who is so funny that she doesn’t even realize it, which of course, just makes her even funnier. Animal lover, wonderful mom, wife, and a true girlfriend, Mary possesses so many of the qualities that I admire and aspire to achieve.