I met my best friend Stacy in ninth grade. We spent so much time together that we were literally raised by two sets of parents.
Stacy's parents were extremely generous and kind people. I loved them. Their house soon felt like my own, which is exactly how they wanted it.
Stacy and I often left school to go to her house for lunch. Her mom, Leslie, almost always had fast food or something homemade waiting for us. This was a very nice change of pace from making or purchasing my own lunches and I was always grateful.
One day after finishing lunch, I went to the cupboards to get a snack for later. I grabbed a bag of potato chips when it dawned on me that I had never seen anyone in Stacy's family eat this particular brand of chips, yet Leslie always had them in her cupboards.
"Leslie, Why do you buy these?" I asked her curiously.
Leslie continued putting groceries away. "Because honey, they're your favorite."
It was such a small thing to her, but I have never forgotten it. I couldn't believe that she had bought something specifically for me simply because she knew they were my favorite. It wouldn't be the only time Leslie treated me like family.
Stacy and I weren't just given love and attention in each other's homes we were disciplined too. Once while sitting at the table, I must have said something crass because Leslie promptly scolded me. As for Stacy, she and I returned home late one night while she was staying the weekend with us. My mom promptly grounded both of us. Stacy had never before been grounded.
I learned so many wonderful life lessons in Stacy's home and Stacy has often said the same thing about mine. Both our parents shaped us into who we are today. Leslie was able to say things to me that I would have ignored had they come from my mom. Stacy felt the same way about my mom's counsel to her.
Stacy and I have families of our own now and we can understand more fully what a rare blessing we had in each other's moms.
It's often said that "it takes a village to raise a child." Because of Leslie's influence on me, I hope I am that kind of a person for my friend's kids or kid's friends.
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I texted my niece the other day and told her she was too good to be wearing the type of outfit I had seen on her Instagram account. I also told her how much I loved her. I was nervous doing it, but was amazed at her reply.
She thanked me and told me that she sometimes wondered if anyone cared. She then proceeded to tell me how much she loved me. It really touched my heart and I was so grateful I had followed through with my thought. I wonder if I would have even thought to text her, had I not had the influence of Leslie in my life.
Years after high school, I went with Stacy and Leslie for Stacy's bridal fitting. Stacy and I were still very close, but we had grown up and had separate lives now. I was not at Leslie's home as much as during those high school days. But, when the woman behind the counter asked Leslie who we were, Leslie didn't hesitate when she replied, "my daughters."
I looked at Leslie who I had come to love so dearly. Here we were years later, but nothing had changed.
I smiled, because with those words, I knew it never would.
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