My Kindergarten class picture. Brenda is standing, third from the left in the back row. I am standing, seventh from the left in the back row.
The Miracle of Finding My Childhood Best Friend
By Richard Mabey Jr.
Imagine if you will, you move away from your childhood home when you are six years old. You wave farewell to your best friend, your dear classmate, your next door neighbor. And then at 64, by nothing less than a miracle, you’re able to be in touch with her again. Truly a miracle.
Brenda was my best friend, my next door neighbor, my fellow classmate, when we lived on Madeline Avenue in Clifton, New Jersey. Our families, more or less shared a common driveway. The homes were very close together on Madeline Avenue.
Before we began Kindergarten, Brenda and I would play for hours and hours together, just about every single day. We would play on the swings in my backyard. We would build sandcastles in the sandbox. And, yes, I would agree to play house with Brenda.
Brenda was a kind, sweet, gentle little girl. Even though Brenda had older siblings, I thought it was my duty and responsibility to protect Brenda from the mean kids in the neighborhood, when we walked to and from school. Not that there were a lot of mean kids in our old neighborhood. Well, there was one bully who was a little older than me. He lived up the street from us.
I remember that I had this set of Tonka toy trucks. Brenda and I would play in the sand with them for hours. I think Brenda liked playing with my Tonka trucks about as much as I liked playing house. But I don’t think either one of us ever complained about the sacrifice we made for each other.
When I was in First Grade, we moved from Clifton to the old Mabey Homestead in Lincoln Park. I was six years old at the time. The ride from Clifton to Lincoln Park seemed like a long, long, long ride. I remember that I cried the whole time. I had just said goodbye to my best friend, Brenda.
Brenda and her mom came to visit us in Lincoln Park in the summer of 1960. Brenda and I had just completed the First Grade in our respective grade schools. I remember I was so happy to see Brenda again. It was a joyous, happy day for me.
It’s totally my fault that Brenda and I lost touch. Totally my fault. Many, many, many times, when I was in those early years of grade school, Mom would tell me to write a letter to my dear friend Brenda. I would start out and write a paragraph or two. Then, one of my neighborhood buddies would ring the doorbell and ask me to come out and play catch or play guns.
Sadly, I lost touch with Brenda. I always prayed that she was safe and happy. That was my prayer to the good Lord for my dear friend Brenda, that she was safe and happy. I never stopped praying for Brenda.
It was just last week, by an incredible miracle, I was able to get in touch with Brenda again on social media. It was truly a miracle.
Today, Brenda is happily married and living in a beautiful home in the South. I was so incredibly happy to learn that Brenda is safe and happy.
If truth be told, Brenda holds a place in my heart that no other woman has ever been able to reach. I hold her in the highest regard. My respect for Brenda is immense.
As you know, I often write about my old girlfriend Penny, whom I dated from my senior year of high school through my two years of attending County College of Morris. As many of you know, Penny encouraged me to become a writer.
Well, I often would tell Penny about my dear childhood friend, Brenda. Penny would get so mad at me, she would get so enraged with jealousy over my childhood friendship with Brenda. But one day, Penny and I were talking in my old 1961 Ford Falcon. I will never forget this moment.
Out of the blue Penny said to me, “Richard this Brenda you talk about. I know she holds a place in your heart, I’ll never reach. I talked to my mom about it. Mom told me to just accept it.” And that was that.
There are no words to convey what it means to me to be reacquainted with my childhood best friend, Brenda. There are no words. Truly, there are no words.