Most of Allie’s friends were special in one way or another, but not often did one come along with the cultural charm that Gayle had. Here was a person who had grown up in a foreign country, even spoke a foreign language fluently – this was rare for Allie’s small town lifestyle. Always the opportunist, Allie signed Gayle up for giving French lessons to her homeschooled daughters. That was the beginning of years of shared adventures, shared ups and downs, shared faith.
Gayle was a superior hostess with French flair. Instead of “get to the table before it all gets cold”, which Allie was used to, there was a before dinner conversation time, with appetizers and wine. Art on the walls, flowers in the vases, music in the air, and a leisurely but simple meal could always be counted on with Gayle’s invitations. Without Gayle, Allie would have never tasted kir or known what a porte couteaux was. Probably wouldn’t have known that a madeleine was a cookie or have adopted that wonderful slow roasted brisket recipe.
Gayle was the kind of friend she went to for advice on furniture purchases and making home a lovely place. Gayle worked in a design shop and with that as a credential, she talked Allie into painting her bathroom dark green – whoa, shocking! She helped Allie find a great upholstery shop to revive a favorite recliner. In turn, Allie helped Gayle network, even if it was just helping her find horse manure for her rose garden. They both loved taking long walks, cooking out at the beach, and breakfasts in small morning restaurants. They both loved their cats, and their husbands.
They both loved their God. After Allie had pestered her numerous times to go to Bible study with her, Gayle gave up and went. Mutual faith deepened the friendship and became an anchor as they shared their saddest times and prayed for each other. They both knew God to be adventurous, and frankly, kind of wild, in a good way.
Allie got the kayaks out one day and made Gayle go with her on the inland waterway. It was a bit out of Gayle’s comfort zone but it ended well. They survived a beautiful afternoon with nothing but a little sunburn.
Gayle asked Allie to watch her house and feed her cat one year when she and her husband visited France. She suggested a midnight skinny dip in the pool which was surprising to Allie and a bit out of her comfort zone, but why not? Who’s to know?
Most often though, it was that they talked and knew how to tell each other important things. Sometimes they were on the phone, sometimes in person, but over time it all started having a preparatory nature to it. Because of that, they were not all that surprised when the big “thing” finally came around… Not really.