... one of my favorite places in the world.
I was 9 years old and in 4th grade when my family changed homes in Tacoma. In our new neighborhood, I soon met Marilyn and we became friends. Same age, same grade, same school. As friends, we usually did well; but we sometimes did not. For instance, Marilyn would be very angry at me, and refuse to talk to me, but wouldn't tell me why. She, going past my house on the way to school, would stop for me. We'd walk that next few blocks. She'd walk, but wouldn't talk and wouldn't look at me. No matter what a fuss was, a few days later, even though I usually had no idea what it was about, she would suddenly start smiling and talking, but never told me she was sorry or explained why she'd been upset. Strange relationship, fair friendship. We kept moving along until after 9th grade and my family left Tacoma during the summer when I turned 15.
Like mine, her parents were alcoholics. But big difference: she was the only of their kids who lived at home; her next sister was about 10 years older. [I, as most of you know, was the oldest of 6 girls.] Consequently, she could deal with her parents more easily than I could.
We did some really strange things. One "funny" one: I had come to spend the night with her, and I climbed in her bedroom window on the side of their house. Marilyn wanted me there that night, but her dad had not given permission, so I snuck in, and stayed on the floor by the bed. Her dad popped in a couple times that night -- I'm sure he heard us whispering and snickering [who'd a thunk that?] -- but each time I was so well hidden on the wall-side of the bed on the floor, he didn't see me. Did I have a good time? Did I sleep, covered with blankets? Not much. BUT we broke his rule and we won. That's what counted with us.
Even all these years later, though, when I'm driving through Point Defiance, I laugh. This is what happened:
One morning the summer when we were 13, her dad still asleep from his drunk night, Marilyn went through his pockets and wallet and took his spare cash. Her reasoning? He wouldn't think it was stolen; he'd think he'd bought more beer for others at the bar than he had planned. SO, she took the money and came to my house. I happened to have the day off from babysitting my 5 sisters. That summer my parents occasionally hired a lady to watch them, especially now that my youngest sister, Kristan, was less than a year old. The sitter would leave mid-afternoon, so I'd be free until about 3:00. Believe me, I was a happy kid.
Marilyn came at 9 o'clock that morning and said we should go to Point Defiance on our bikes and she wanted to ride horses there. I'd never ridden a bike nearly that far, always stuck to the neighborhood area, and I'd never been on a horse. Point Defiance was about 4 miles away, riding up and down some hilly streets, and, once inside the park, another 1/2 mile or so to the horse area. And, remember, in those days, folks, bikes weren't filled with all the easiness our present-day ones have. They had a saddle w/o pads, regular wheels, pedals, and handlebars. Very basic. "Easy Riding" wasn't always easy. But... we did it. [And, what was a helmet???]
Marilyn and I rode for about an hour to get to Point Defiance. Then, we rode horses for an hour or two along the paths, through the tree and leafy areas and looking over the Puget Sound. Then we rode the bikes back home. After reaching the house about 2 o'clock, I was exhausted from those hours of bike-and-horse-riding. We did it a couple times that week, but never again.
Did I have fun? YES!!! My first chance to do anything like that, because we were so poor and I had so much household responsibility and little free time. Did I feel guilty? YES!!! I KNEW her dad had been robbed. I KNEW when and how it had been done, and who had done it. I KNEW I had taken advantage to have the money used on me.
Did Marilyn ever wonder, feel guilty? I don't know. She was angry at her parents for their unparenting. She felt angry that her sister had come out better than she did.
I haven't seen her since I was 20. Returning to Tacoma for a job when having left Seattle, I connected with her through another former neighborhood friend. Marilyn was planning her marriage. I had a short visit at her apartment. She seemed pleased with life.
I hope her life has improved as beautifully as mine has. I hope to see her in heaven. I can thank her for many things over those several years -- she really did some nice things for me.
However, as much as I still grin about it at Point Defiance, when seeing the former horse-path area, in heaven it wouldn't be OK for me to thank her for providing excitingly fun horse-riding that week. No matter how I might want to approach it, it wouldn't be OK, since the "fun" came as the result of stealing money from her dad.
But I DO hope to see her in heaven. When there, we'd both be much spiritually-oriented happy ladies, forever. And can walk, bike, and horse-ride for eternity ... however those activities are provided through angels.