Longtime readers of this column may well recall, a few years ago, reading regular reports about the outdoor adventures (and misadventures) of a group of friends I publicly referred to as “The Good Old Girls.”
In private, we call ourselves the BLTs.
That term came about in the spring of 1980 when I was suddenly and unexpectedly widowed, and several caring women took it upon themselves to provide me and my children with the most wonderful form of support: a commitment to friendship that would ensure we were not alone on important occasions, such as birthdays and holidays.
My June birthday that year set us off on what is now an uninterrupted, three-plus decades of celebrating birthdays and holidays together.
In all those years, we’ve never missed a single month of getting together, at least once, to celebrate one another.
BLT stands for Birthdays and Lunch Together. After that first birthday lunch, we decided it was so much fun it should continue.
We even have a logo created by our resident artist. It’s a BLT sandwich with a celery stick to pop into an appropriate beverage.
In the ensuing years, the BLTs have shared all that life has to offer, both happy times and sad times.
Thirteen women strong, we’ve been through all the life stages and experiences you can imagine; from the extraordinary excitement of weddings, anniversaries, births and newly found family, to the difficult trials of illness, disease, divorces that were both unsettling and lifesaving, and the death of spouses, children, family and special friends.
But now our BLT circle of life, that rests so comfortably inside our all-encompassing circle of life, has changed.
It shrunk by one link, last Saturday, when Carol Coney Needham, 72, died peacefully at a Bangor health care facility.
Carol, with her vivacious, endearing smile and infectious laugh.
Carol, whose deep love of life and dedication to family so inspired us.
Carol, our Miss Manners, who kept us properly in line, minding our P’s and Q’s.
Carol, who brightened any room she entered.
Carol, who could always perk you up because you were happy just to be with her.
This week, I reread some of those Good Old Girls columns which were, in fact, BLT columns.
They told much about what transpired on a particular adventure but, behind the lines, there was so much more that could be told.
About what we learned from each other, especially Carol, about caring and sharing.
About how to keep your chin up and hold your head high, in spite of any adversity.
About how to forge ahead, courageously, through any difficulty; to accept the outcome and make the best of it.
And always, every day, how to face the world with a smile, like Carol’s, and make that day a brighter one for everyone you met.
The BLTs grieve so very deeply for Carol and her loving and devoted husband, Tom, who will always be part of our special BLT celebrations; for her children, Tom, Susan and Amy, their spouses and families; her brother John, his wife and daughter and, most especially, Carol’s BLT twin, Priscilla Coney Quinn, her husband, Bill, their seven sons, spouses and grandchildren.
We share the grief, as well, of all Carol’s family and the many friends who love her, as do we.
Our BLT circle may be smaller, but it is still complete because we will hold Carol safely in our hearts forever.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.