IN THE VILLAGES: Thank you for being my friend

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I’ve lived in Central Florida for 11 years—eight of them in The Villages. Throughout the years, I have been lucky enough to meet hundreds of people who made a lasting impression on me and changed the way I live my life.

I’ve written about some of them, exercised with some of them, cried, laughed, danced, drank wine, and dined with some of them. I’ve also been very blessed to become lifelong friends with some of them.

Along the way, I discovered something that many Villagers already know: regardless of where you’re from, how much money you have or don’t have, the color of your skin, your sexuality, or your education, somehow most Villagers manage to find those things that you do have in common, and you rejoice in them. In my humble opinion that’s much better and, I must say, much more interesting and fun than ruminating or focusing on the few differences discovered along the way.

I have a friend who, at first blush, I thought would simply be a work acquaintance. In reality, she turned out to be one of my biggest champions—and friends. She is a writer, in fact, an award-winning writer. She sat next to me where I worked as an editorial assistant.

I was a 57-year-old newly single, country gal who had just moved from rural Vermont to Florida after going through a very difficult and emotionally draining divorce. I was on empty. My friend was in her early 30’s and had spent most of her life in or near New York City—a city girl. She was a college graduate, a beautiful blonde and knew what she wanted and where she was going. I did not.

Yet, by some miracle, she and others befriended me and helped me rebuild much of what I lost during an 18-year marriage including self-confidence, self-respect, the ability to laugh again, and the desire to regain what I had misplaced—myself.

Since moving to The Villages, there are many friends who helped me navigate this wonderful, crazy roller coaster we call life. You know who you are, and I thank you for being my friend, for all the lessons you have taught me, all the joys you have given me and all the laughter we have shared. Life is good.

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