WINNIPEG, MB - In the world of Ancient Rome, March 15 was known as “The Ides of March”. It was a day to settle your debts, although after Julius Caesar was warned to “Beware the Ides” it took on a different meaning for people. That day has always had a great deal of meaning for me as three influential women that I befriended share a birthday on March 15. All three are very different, but one quality they all had in common was a very forthright response to the world.
First of all there was Alice. She was a diminutive sprite of a woman who could talk straight and fast and always put a positive spin on things. When I first began to work at Eaton’s back in 1967, she was employed there as well and I would see her every day. She made the effort to talk to me and we soon discovered that I knew her son. This lead to much discussion and she and I became friends. Often I would take her grocery shopping or we would go and lunch together and enjoy a lot of laughs about life and its follies. I so valued her friendship, as we navigated life from two points of view. She gave me great advice, always realistic and sometime very funny. I learned that March 15 was her birthday and we would plan a special outing to celebrate it. She was much older than my own mother and yet we had an amazing connection as two adults. I miss her even today.
Then there was Pat. She was a force to be reckoned with in every way. Adventurous and well-travelled, she loved to take off and explore the world not only for fun but in her career. She always had great jobs that took her far away from Winnipeg but she always came back. She loved to entertain and to have people around her that were good conversationalists and could laugh and talk for hours. Her homes were always elegantly appointed and the atmosphere was filled with joy, especially as she collected people together. She loved to cook and bake and do all things domestic and many a happy moment was spent in her company. She could be outrageously funny and yet as shy as can be in certain circumstances. She cared deeply for her family and having no children of her own doted on her nephews and nieces.
Physically, she stood tall with an hourglass figure and would never be seen in any type of disarray. She loved to dress up and her wardrobe was massive and varied. When Barbra and I were married she made every effort to make a friend of Barbra on her own and they carved out a special relationship. Her joie de vivre is hard to imagine as she was always game to do new things and try new adventures. Her parties were always filled with fun, great food and good conversation. She died far too young as she had many worlds to conquer yet. I miss the phone calls and the impromptu ideas of doing things.
Then there is Lynda. How lucky could I be to meet this person over 50 years ago? When I saw her for the first time I was attracted to her seemingly cool beauty and wanted to ask her out. She was dating other guys, so I had to wait for the opportunity but finally got my chance. We went to a dance in one of the coldest Februarys ever in Winnipeg. Thinking myself as “Mr. Cool” I went and warmed up the car as she waited at the door of the hotel. I got out of the running car and gallantly, I thought, went to open the door of the hotel for her. As she swept out of the hotel I rushed to open the car door only to discover that “Mr. Cool” had not unlocked the passenger door from the inside. Completely losing my cool I leaned against the car and laughed at myself. She said at that moment she decided that I was okay.
We became fast friends after that and shared so many fun times together as we were maturing. When I refer to her “cool beauty”, she had that blonde, ethereal look that was very popular in actresses like Eva Marie Saint and Grace Kelly. But inside there was the soul and passion of someone who knows what they want out of life. She and I are both avid movie goers and readers and rarely were out of conversation. We knew one another’s parents and truly enjoyed them, too. We were, in fact, almost closer than brother and sister and have maintained that friendship over all these years. We both married spouses who are tolerant of our reminiscing and sharing thoughts from our past. When Lynda was being married she called me and said, “Find me a dress to be married in,” and I did. I also did the headpiece and when she saw it for the first time she was thrilled as it really spoke to her taste.
We try to talk on the phone as often as we can and do send emails back and forth and when the opportunity arises we are together again. This level of friendship does not come to everyone in their life and I am always grateful for it in every way. She has always been able to tell me in very direct terms what she sees or feels about a situation and for that I am such a lucky person.
So these three women who share the birthday of March 15 have had a serious influence on my life. They are my “March Maidens” and I am so fortunate to have known them all.
By Jim Pappas who is a board member of CJNU