A Trip to the Tot Lot, 1974 by
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Our kids were constant companions

We had just moved to an apartment in Evanston and I put my 3-year-old son and 1-year old daughter into a stroller, headed for Turtle Park a block away. Across the street, a woman was also pushing her similarly aged children. We acknowledged one another and she crossed the street to introduce herself. Her name is Margaret and, almost 50 years later, we are still friends. Turns out, we both attended the University of Michigan and were high school teachers. Our children were the same age and gender and became playmates when they were young. If we had not left our homes at the exact same time, headed for the same tot lot, I may have been a lonely stay-at-home mom for some time.

We have been friends since that fateful day when we both decided to take a walk to the park at the same time.

Through Margaret, my family was invited to become part of a Chavurah, or Jewish friendship group, that still exists today. We started with six families, 12 adults and 13 children (Margaret had a third child by then) and grew to 28 children with spouses and 31 grandchildren. This group has been an important part of our lives, celebrating joyous events and supporting one another through sad ones.

Margaret (left) and me (right)

Margaret connected me with the preschool my children attended, the school where I taught her youngest child and eventually served as director for seven years before starting Cherry Preschool. When we moved from our apartment across the street from Margaret’s house, we didn’t go very far. I wanted our children to attend the same elementary school as hers. Eventually, we became active in the PTA, founding a children’s book store and ultimately serving as co-presidents of the PTA. We even dreamed of opening a children’s book store together, but that never happened.

Even though our children moved on to other friends as they left elementary school and our career paths diverged, we have been friends since that fateful day when we both decided to take a walk to the park at the same time.

Our Chavurah, 2016

 

Profile photo of Laurie Levy Laurie Levy
Boomer. Educator. Advocate. Eclectic topics: grandkids, special needs, values, aging, loss, & whatever. Author: Terribly Strange and Wonderfully Real.

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Characterizations: been there, moving, well written

Comments

  1. pattyv says:

    Laurie, what a truly ‘fated’ morning stroll. A story such as this convinces me we possess more powerful senses than the normal ones. I think there’s an unseen way we communicate, connecting with our ‘soul’ family. I believe Margaret and you planned the meeting – date, place, time, etc. Look how much you’ve shared over the years. What a connection. I have chills.

  2. Thanx Laurie for the sweet story of your chance meeting with Margaret and the lifelong friendships made. You’ve reminded me of friends we made when our son was a newborn and we attended a lecture by Lee Salk, the child psychologist. Will try to write it!

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    I love this story of the Chavurah and the lifelong bonds that formed after that serendipitous meeting. You have created such wonderful community that has surely nourished a large number of people, and what more valuable thing could we need?

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Bashert is the perfect word to describe that chance meeting that day – it was meant to be and set your families up on such a nice path forward for years to come. Lovely story, Laurie.

  5. Your chance encounter is an example that all many of our chance meetings at committees, parades, shopping, and waiting in lines have tremendous potential for meaningful friendships and even relationships. I wish it were more often that when I have met someone who becomes important to me, we move, develop other roots, or have separation fray our relation. Being in the same neighborhood knit you together. I have lived in too many places to even remember the addresses.

    • Laurie Levy says:

      You are so right about how putting down roots enables friendships to thrive. I left my hometown in the Detroit area when I was 17 for college and finally when I came to Chicago after graduating. Those relationships, aside from relatives, have fallen away.

  6. Dave Ventre says:

    My scientist mind keeps rejecting the concept of bashert. I sure am glad we have luck, though!

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