Monday, February 2, 2009

The Council of the Sleepover

E-mails like this one fly via the net from the hearts of grateful women to their “sister girlfriends” everywhere.

Hi all,

Just wanted to add my thanks to you Jan as well.

Talking with you all helps me to put my life and its particular challenges into a better perspective. Women are repositories of real life wisdom. We poke, prod, debate, cheer on, kid, console or just listen and are present for each other - how lucky we are!

I too am glad that we could be with you on the anniversary of your Mom's passing - to remember such a special lady and raise a toast to your Mom made the occasion even more special.

And, to Glyn, Flo and Irene we missed you.

Love and Light to all of you who light my way

How lucky am I! I am one of 8 members of the COUNCIL of the SLEEPOVER. Earlier today I launched this e-mail in appreciation for Jan’s hosting of the long anticipated sleepover this past Sat night - the latest in a lifetime of such gatherings.

I don’t remember meeting Janet. We must have been introduced to each other by our mothers. It seems we have always known each other and we are as she says, “longest time friends”. No one has a greater sense of humour about herself. I see her 11yr old self folded up origami style, laughing hysterically - her long legs and arms splayed in all directions when the child’s stroller she was crammed into folded itself up around her as it rolled down the steep driveway into our garage finally crashing to a stop at its brick end wall. Jan emerged unscathed and still laughing.

The 2 of us met my future sister-in-law 51 years ago when she moved into the new house next door. Di and I always knew we would be sisters-in-law. The childhood crush I had on one of her older brothers made it seem likely to us that he would be my future spouse, but this wasn’t to be. 22 yrs ago Di invited me to a dinner to welcome me back to Oakville. She had also invited her unattached brother-in-law Rod. “Not a set up” she swore when she discovered the double booking and gave me the option to opt out. I was not looking for a partner so I went and the moment she witnessed her guests’ eyes meet Di uttered to herself, “Uh, oh!” Within a few months our childhood premonition came true.

Jan had known Pam before she moved into our neighbourhood with her Mom and James Dean cool, 10 years older brother. He was so cool that he had a Porsche with a racing stripe across its hood. So cool he shared his coolness with us, enlisting Pam, Glyn and I to be part of his pit crew. Think of it, 3 crazed teenaged girls in levis and tank tops running on to the side of the track flashing the chalk board with lap time and numbers as he whizzed by in his formula V car on tracks like Mosport and Harewood – we were sooo cool and had sooo much fun. A horror movie to Pam is any movie in which a really nice car gets totaled.

Within a year of our meeting Pam (whom I met when I was in about grade 5 or so), Pam introduced us to Glyn who she insisted was “really nice and not snobby at all”. This was important as she was in the enrichment class having skipped grades along the way. Glyn was, even in those days, politically aware, a supporter of noble social causes, and an unsurpassed debater with flawless grammar. If you wanted to know anything about anything Glyn was your girl. What movie trivia is to my brain; valuable info is to hers. While I still had pictures of horses on my bedroom wall Glyn had the likes of Einstein, Gandhi and Bertrand Russell.

Flo, our Joanie Mitchell look-alike, came my way via the others who were a year behind me in school. Shortly after graduation she became a court reporter - talking into a steno mask to repeat all that was said in the courtroom. We all agreed that this was a most perfect career for her as she loved to share “information” about others. With a genuinely funny delivery her light manner and gossipy style belie depth of thought and shrewdness. With great tenacity she remained in the industry adapting to technological advances along the way for the reward of the retirement pension at the end. Now retired she lives, “the life I was born to live”, that of a retiree living out her dreams.

I was aware of Marisa in high school but it wasn’t til my return to Oakville that she became part of the Council through Di. Marisa has more relatives than all of us combined. She can cook a dinner for a bazillion people, entertain visitors, take care of ailing family members, design and sew tap dance costumes for 6 kids of varying sizes in an hour, help her husband run a business, travel all over the world and maintain 2 households. I can cope with myself, a husband and 2 cats on a good day. Family is her life. 2 new grandsons have been added to the mix in the last 6 mos. – she just wants to “eat them up”.

Irene came in a few years after Marisa. She is an honourary member; an intensely private person who comes and goes. Her quiet gentle presence is a contrast to the groups’ no holds barred, outrageous, loud and rambunctious collective nature.

Nothing is sacred and everything is up for discussion: personal life, politics (the source of greatest debate), sex, money, health; you name it. We have supported each other through all of the rights of passage: births, marriages, deaths, divorce, illness, health, good fortune, retirement. And we will support each other in whatever else life sends our way because as Di said in her e-mail of appreciation, “As long as we have each other we’ll be fine.”


  1. Nance,

    This is such a beautiful reflection, I only hope my friendships last as long as the council's and deepen as yours all have. It's so amazing seeing what you all bring out in my mom when you're together; in many ways I feel that I get to know her better in those short times than all of the years with her "on mom duty". I'm so grateful that she has you and the sleepover ladies in her life.

  2. Just read The Council of the Sleepover and loved it! I still remember that Porsche 356 - red with black leather interior and yes, the white racing strip going across the hood. Getting up at 5:00 AM and parking it outside of corner one at Mostport for the big CanAm Races. Those were the days - when motor racing was dangerous and sex was safe! Bryan will love to hear about his James Dean cool influence on our lives - and yet, in true James Dean cool fashion probably not say too much - a mere cool laugh and shrug of the shoulders as a response.

    Thank goodness we can relive the good 'ol memories and make new ones along the way.

    Keep up the excellent writing Nance!

    Love Pamela.