Monday, September 7, 2009


I want to tell you about my friend, Sarah.

She is my oldest friend. We have been close for thirty-five years.

She has been my teacher since the first day we met when I was twelve and she was fifteen. On that fateful day of our meeting she taught me how to ride her big, tall horse Little Bit. Over the years she taught me much more about proper riding habits and horse training, jumping and grooming. She showed her horses in competition and won piles of ribbons. I did virtually nothing with the knowledge she taught me about horses, except to enjoy myself.

Sarah also was my art teacher. She is an immensely talented artist and has a prolific body of work. Here are some examples:

This is one of my favorite of her pen and ink works. I have about ten more favorites.

This is a watercolor portrait she did of my daughter.

Animal portraits are a specialty of hers. When I first knew her as a teenager she was painting animal portraits on the backs of jean jackets and sweatshirts and selling them.

She taught me how to draw people and how to use watercolors. I've done virtually nothing with that knowledge while she has gone on to win awards and sell works all over the world.

Sarah also was my teacher in school. After she graduated she began teaching at our Christian high school where she taught me algebra, geometry, Shakespeare, the Constitution, spelling and more. She is a smart cookie. I went on to do virtually nothing with what she taught me. Well, okay. I'm a homeschooler. But I can't teach geometry. I hope she's not ashamed of me...

Back in 1978, she and I took a couple trips with another friend. We made some special memories on those trips. This photo was from when we decided to go to Niagara Falls for the weekend. After spending a day there, our other friend, Patty (far right), looked at the map and said, hey, we are really close to the Atlantic ocean (we are?) and I've always wanted to see the Atlantic ocean, so how about we drive there? So we did- in her little yellow Nova. This photo was taken at our stop in Philadelphia where we saw the Liberty Bell and Constitution Hall. Then we went on to New Jersey and the Boardwalk of Atlantic City. After we put our feet in the ocean we hopped back in the car and drove all night back to Michigan. Talk about spontaneous. We were wild! Or not. And if any of my teenagers reading this thinks a trip like this would be a good idea...this trip ended with us running out of gas five miles from home with only eleven cents left between us.

And as a side note- a couple months after this photo was taken, Patty had a car accident and was in a coma for a month with a brain injury. She has been in a wheel chair for the last thirty years. That's how life can pull the rug out sometimes.

In the years since, we have remained good friends and celebrated our marriages, the births of our twelve children and our creative successes. She is the only friend who will let me voice all my opinions, listen to them and still like me anyway. I can even tell her that she is wrong about her opinions. She loves to debate as much as I do and I haven't yet been able to get her goat.

At college she met this European guy who fell in love with her talent and long hair. He married her and took her far away to bake his bread and birth his babies. So because of him, our friendship has ever since been a long distance one.

Eight years ago my daughter lived with Sarah and her family for five months. Sarah, ever the teacher, taught my daughter art history and painting techniques. I got to have a nice visit with Sarah there and it was after venturing out from her home on our own for a tour that I became separated from my children in the Unfortunate Train Incident.

That visit to her home was one of the four times we have been together in the last twenty years. Another of those times was when she and her husband and son came to my son's orchestra concert in Salzburg, Austria. It was a very brief but enjoyable (and wet) visit. Five years ago she and her daughter came here for a visit to celebrate the marriage of my daughter. Last year another of my sons lived with her family and it changed the direction of his life forever.

Sarah has a busy life raising her family, homeschooling, traveling and writing. She is currently the general leading the troops in battle against the powers that be in Switzerland for the right to homeschool. Switzerland has outlawed homeschooling but Sarah is working to change that. Her opponents don't yet know what they are up against. Though she is under the threat of imprisonment or having her children taken away, she is tenaciously fighting the good fight, writing documents, meeting with officials and quietly educating her children. I hope I can be more like her when I grow up.

Starting Thursday we will be celebrating our thirty-five year friendship together. I will also be reuniting with her sisters, whom I have also known for thirty-five years but haven't seen in about twenty. It should be one crazy party!


  1. I've had the same girlfriend since I was five. It's been 42 years since we first met and we still get along. She has moved all over the country and has finally come home - to the same town I live in now. It's wonderful knowing the same person for so long, isn't it? I hope you have a great visit!

  2. How great that you can spend time in each other's presence now. My MIL had a friend for eighty years (since kindergarten) before they were parted. Amazing!

  3. What a wonderful friendship! You are blessed to have had a friend for all those years even with all the distance between you. I recently blogged about a friend who contacted me after over 30 years. We lost contact and she searched me out!

    Does your daughter paint now? We will pray for the fight to homeschool in Switzerland. We are so blessed in this country.

  4. Hey, Katie? Do you paint?
    Yes, she does paint - well. But she does it in between raising a genius little boy, baking artisan bread and planting, tending and harvesting her garden(s).


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