My best friend’s mother left the world too soon, and it has made me think about how important a best friend’s mother can be in someone’s life.
Some people might not have a close relationship with their best friend’s mother, but not everyone hits the jackpot like I did.
I met Katharine, my childhood best friend, when we were 3 years old. I still remember her standing in front of our preschool class, being introduced to everyone. It was a life-changing moment since we were inseparable until her family moved out of state ten years later (we remained friends but sleeping over nearly every weekend wasn’t possible). Those years were filled with sleepovers, birthday parties, and nights spent chatting on the phone. I still have the family’s land-line phone number memorized.
Now that I am a mother, Katharine’s mother, Mrs. Corgan, is someone that I have thought of often. She was a cool mom, but not in the sense that you might think. As the mother of five young children, she was cool in the sense that things didn’t phase her. She never lost her cool. She was gentle parenting before it became a buzzword. She had this natural ease about her, and a wonderful ability to make everyone feel loved.
I had different friends throughout my childhood and I remember that I always felt the most welcome and most at home at the Corgan household. It was like a giant wave of love met you at the door. It truly felt like a second home. I cherish so many memories of my time at the Corgan’s house, but I cherish that feeling just as much.
When I think about the type of parent that I want to be, being a parent that creates a feeling of love of welcoming for Gwen’s friends has always come to mind. As incredible as my own parents are, the Corgans provided me with a perspective that someone can’t get from their own parents. I have always thought not just about the parent I want to be to Gwen, I also think about how I want her friends to feel in our home and the relationship I want to have with them.
Some parents fuss over the small stuff like worrying about getting crumbs everywhere. When the Corgans didn’t, it felt like a different level of trust and independence. They truly let us be kids. They were a bit looser with things like candy consumption and bedtimes. Pastor Corgan taking a late-night break from writing Sunday’s sermon to make us milkshakes is one of my favorite memories. Hanging out with your daughter and her friend drinking milkshakes way after bedtime is the ultimate cool parent move.
One thing that I often think of as a parent is that by the time I was 3 years old, like Gwen, I had two younger siblings. And when I think about how much work three children must have been, I think about the Corgans, who had five children. Still, they were always letting their children host sleepovers. They embraced being the home where all the kids were hanging out. The screen door on the porch seemed to always be swinging open and closed with a constant stream of kids running in and out.
My friendship with Katharine has been a constant in my life. It’s that rare friendship that has spanned decades. We celebrated high school graduations and weddings together. Our kids have met. Katharine’s parents have always been a part of my life, too. Her father performed our wedding ceremony. And, Mrs. Corgan met Gwen.
Mrs. Corgan’s mother, Mrs. Nye, lived well into her 90s. I believed that since Mrs. Nye thrived at such an old age, Mrs. Corgan would do the same. It never occurred to me that the last time that I saw her would be the last time. I am so thankful for all the magical memories that I have from my childhood, many of which exist just because she said that I could come over. She will be remembered very fondly and I know I will be thinking of her when Gwen hosts her first sleepover.