Embrace Friendships!

SSU_LOGO–by Mary Helen Darah

Mary Helen Darah and Sherri Frazier share over 50 years of friendship.

A missing remote and a 58-pound golden retriever doing an impersonation of a lap dog across 80 percent of my reclined body, forced me to watch “The Bachelor.” I was horrified to see young women vie for the attention of a male who could be a walking petri dish of potential STDs.


To see women turn on one another was disheartening. Thanks to the show, I am now on a mission to remind the youth of today the importance of embracing, supporting and nurturing friendships. My Gram always said, “Cherish your girlfriends. They will be the ones who bring casseroles when the going gets tough.” Yes, every life crisis could be fixed with hot cheese and noodles in my Gram’s eyes, but she had a point. I am blessed to have an abundance of diverse, wonderful and wacky “casserole makers” in my life and I hope the younger generation finds their versions of the following:

The Nature Lover
Bernie (short for Bernice) is my buddy who resides near my Canadian home. She is a brilliant waste management engineer who is missing a tooth as a result of her weekly attempts to teach skating to underprivileged kids. She states there is no need to get a replacement tooth due to the high probability of recurrence. I once dropped her off via fishing boat on a small island on our lake with the first round of our children, a few supplies and a guilty conscience. I returned with round two of kids to find that she had made a homemade insect repellent, started a fire, constructed sit-upons and was in the process of roasting hot dogs that she had sliced to look like cute little spiders. If I weren’t a confirmed heterosexual, I would marry the woman.

NOT  Bernie.

The New Yorker
My friend Kim, whose motto in life is, “It is what is it is,” has gotten me through many of life’s curve balls. I would never ask her to bring me a casserole, or any culinary creation for that matter. When I was battling cancer, she brought over tuna cheese soup, for which my oldest child asked, “Is she trying to put you out of your misery sooner?” I do rely on her for brutal honesty. She is my intelligence analyst that shares her insight on everything from relationships to whether my behind looks like a blimp in the grey pants.

Meals by Kim

The Optimist
My lifelong friend Sherri continually reminds me to look on the bright side. Our dads have known each other since they were six years old. She has been a source of unconditional love and support through bad hair days (OK, more like years or decades if you include the 80s), pregnancies, illnesses, failures and losses. The woman quietly shows up to lend a hand and her SUV through countless move-ins, move-ups and “move-ons” for my daughters and me. We once survived a women’s wellness weekend at a local camp together. While the other ladies were complaining about our accommodations (and the New Yorker was informing us she would not be singing ‘friggin’ Kumbaya’) Sherri was rearranging our sparse furnishings, sweeping the cabin and setting up a designated table for snacks and contraband (AKA vino). I swear the woman would have made decorative curtains if we had stayed longer.

Sherri Helping with our Optimism

The Coach
Everyone should be so lucky to have the oldest of seven from an Irish Catholic family in their life. Mine, Mary Ellen, has been my rock through difficult times. It must be in her DNA. Like her firefighting brother, she rushes in when others are running out. She is also my Jiminy Cricket, the voice of reason and conscience that sits on my shoulder. She is the reason that I pay it forward since I can never pay her back in this lifetime.

I also have Val, the kind-hearted fitness enthusiast who pushes me to walk (more like a death march) daily, Linda, my organizer, who will not give up until my life is calm and color-coded (good luck with that one) and Pam, my partner in adventure, who isn’t afraid to use my outhouse, forgo makeup and curling irons, hang by the fire with a host of characters, and tolerate the occasional black fly (alright think swarm) at my Canadian home. Whenever I begin to think that I have been unlucky in love, I think of my Gram’s empathetic words—SNAP OUT OF IT. I hope the women on The Bachelor come to realize that instead of plotting and competing with other women, they could embrace them in friendship. Maybe they will discover that love comes in many forms … and sometimes is delivered at your doorstep in a casserole dish.


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