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Now I am telling my daughters and granddaughters 'Keep your women friends. You will need them.'

Editor's note: West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer Mary Jean Rivera shares an updated portion of "My Grandmother Told Me This," an article she wrote which was published in the "Our Turn Our Time, Beyond Words" in 2000.

"Keep your women friends," she said. "You will need them." My grandmother did not tell me very many things that directly. But she certainly did say that on the day I told her of my engagement. She was very right. Ruth Lockwood SeLegue. 1889-1983

We think we are subject to rapid changes in our lives today, but we have nothing on my grandmother. She was born in the 1890s, and lived to be 93. She came to California as a bride, on a cross-country train. Back home in Indiana she had ridden in wagons. She bore three children, learned to drive when cars became available and survived some serious illnesses. By the time I knew her in her 60s, she was known for her "lead foot" and card parties.

"Keep your women friends. You will need them."

She must have turned to her friends many times in her life, as I now have, full of talk of spouses and children, laundry and cooking, as mine came to be also. In our time, we can add telling of our challenging professional lives, too. We take comfort from sharing our stories of the joys and sorrows of life, laced with laughter and hugs.

Amazingly, now I am her age. I belong to a wonderful group of women who share my passion for writing, another group at church who are single (single, widowed or divorced), a group from the West Linn Adult Community Center who exercise regularly together, and in a group devoted to friendship and spiritual growth, plus life with daughters, sisters and cousins. It takes time and effort. They each inspire or support me.

Over the years I have seen friends come and go, but no one escapes life unchanged. Some have given up smoking, alcohol or other habits. Others have turned to new directions in their work or personal lives, and like me, are encouraged or inspired by these groups, whether learning, grieving, or celebrating.

My grandmother's friends kept their togetherness in ways that were appropriate to their times, in neighborhoods and churches. Now we are held together also by modern communication and travel opportunities. But always we need the sharing, the talking together, the hugs and laughter, and our common memories.

Now I am telling my daughters and granddaughters "Keep your women friends. You will need them."

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Lunch is served Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the WLACC, 1180 Rosemont Road in West Linn. Cost is $5 per person. The menu had not been released at press time.

Mary Jean Rivera is a volunteer with the West Linn Adult Community Center.


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