A group of women that I’m fortunate to know and have as friends, got together yesterday for our annual after-Christmas-Party with a side order of Booper’s retirement party. Yes, we all have cute nicknames.

I’m not an original group member. I was invited by a friend of one of them and was warmly included nearly eleven years ago. For that I am thankful.

They inspire me in ways that are difficult to articulate, but I’ll try. They are never afraid to try new things, start a new career, date a younger man, travel to a third world country. They will move for a job, find love after a gut wrenching divorce, write grant proposals. Don’t smirk at the grant writing; ever tried it?

They will face illness with humor, perform in an operatic production in a foreign language, ride their own Harley-Davidson, and never give up on their pursuits and dreams.

A single mom is seeking her doctorate degree in manageable bites, consistently working at a pace that doesn’t sacrifice too much time with her child. An extremely professional leader makes beautiful jewelry by hand and takes a dream and turns it into reality. Another mom is taking a couple of weeks to celebrate a milestone birthday with college friends, abroad of course. The retired friends are staging a come-back-to-the-workforce career move that is the equivalent to check-mate in a chess game. I’m so proud!

We have athletes among us too. One bikes and runs and enters triathlons. Others are skiers, sharp shooters, or soccer coaches. Most love animals, recycle, and can be counted on to know what kind of wine you like and have it on hand when you visit. They remember your birthday and special events for your children.

But the thing about these women that impresses me the most, is how they support each other. Even in death. Last year, a beloved member died from ALS. It is a particularly cruel disease that paralyzes the body inch by inch, while the mind remains sharp. As it became more difficult for her to go out to events, they brought them to her, even staging a sing-a-long at Christmas as a version of indoor caroling. They would occasionally relieve her husband so that he could recharge his energy supply. Simple. Thoughtful. Class acts, these good-ole-girls are teaching me how to be a better friend.

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