It has been a weekend of parties for me.
Last night we started with a going-away party for our friends from church. They are moving to the Albany, NY area as the result of a job move. This family has grown closer to us over the years and so the fact that they're not going to be part of our lives anymore kind of hurts. Their son went on the Dominican Republic trip with Sarah. Donna has become fairly close to Jana, so they'll miss each other greatly.
They both have been faithful servants in the church, in the student ministry, women's ministries and others. They were the family that loaned us their truck when Donna was home alone and the serpentine belt fell off the van. It was never a question for them and they were quick to offer. That's what church people do, and that's what family does.
The second party was a couple of hours later in Bayview. It was hosted by our oldest Wisconsin friends, Jill and Steve. We've been friends with them since about 1990 when Donna was working at SEWCIL. Steve has become my fishing buddy and we've been through a lot of things together. They have helped us with many projects around the house, and we have returned the favor on a few occasions. Like our church friends, they would do anything for us. Jill always introduces Donna as "my best friend, Donna," which is a sweet term of endearment, albeit a bit uncomfortable for Donna.
We drove down to this party with our other long-time WI friends Patty and Brad. They too have been through a lot with us, most of all, our kids. Sarah and Patrick and Ben and Lauren all grew up together. Abby came along later and is like the baby girl in both our families. They kind of comprise a mix of the first two groups of friends. We got to know them first through church and now they've become long time friends.
The final party was today. It was an old friend of mine from work and his family. They have a party every year at this time called brewfest where he showcases a number of his home brewed beers and soda. As I said, he and I used to work together many years ago, and have kind of loosely kept in touch over the years. He lives on the same street, about a half mile away. Like the others, he too has borrowed me vehicles, watched my cats, helped me with home projects as well as biked and skied with me.
Understand that I'm not a big, big-party kind of guy. I prefer smaller affairs with a couple of friends or a couple couples. I do OK at them, but going to them has lost much of its appeal over the years. I'm not a hermit, but as I said, I'd rather get together with a few close friends so we can talk and hang out.
Having said that, it has become brutally apparent to me this weekend that I have some really, really great friends. Friends that care about what's going on in our lives, friends that love us and our kids, friends that share our perspectives and respect us when we take a different route than they would take. They cheer for us when we do well, they grieve with us when we need comfort and they laugh with us almost always, which is a great relief.
With Donna and I both being transplants from our families east and west, these friends have become what we call our Wisconsin family and we've learn to depend on each other. I for one am extremely grateful for all of them. They make us who we are.