Donna and Joan: 88 years of friendship and counting.

April 16, 2021
Growing up, they shared jacks. Now they share the house.
By Lori Bender - American House

It started even before they could walk.

“She was my first playmate,” Donna says of her 88-year friendship with Joan.

“After a rainstorm, we’d get our bathing suits on and run outside and play in the puddles,” remembers Joan. They lived across the street from each other, and their parents were friends. And so began a lifelong friendship filled with stories and a lot of laughs.

“Here we go again!” Donna says, bracing herself as Joan retells the school play story, “She was Cinderella, and I was a horse pulling the carriage…I never got over it.” And without missing a beat, Donna laughs, “And I’ll never hear the end of it!”

There were dance recitals on the sidewalk and playing jacks on the porch, and then marriage for both, to men who were also friends. “Who knew…?!”, they both laugh. Yes, the friendship circle is complete: their parents were friends, they’re besties and the men they married were friends.

It all sounds so simple, but the reality of staying friends for life is truly amazing. “You kind of have to work at it, keep in contact,” says Joan, “I think you just have to be thoughtful of one another.”

Joan had five children, Donna three of her own, and life got busy, so they drifted. Though they didn’t see each other as much, Donna says, “She knew if she wanted me, I was there, and if I wanted her, she was there.”

The friends eventually found their way back to each other. After Joan’s husband passed away, she moved into American House Carpenter. When Donna’s husband passed, Joan suggested she join her here.

Like meeting on the sidewalk to play as girls, these two now get together every day, sharing laughs, telling old stories and creating new ones. The lifelong friends count on each other, just like always.

When asked what advice they’d give to maintain a friendship like theirs, Joan says, “I would say get outside, play, create a friendship with your neighbors.” Donna adds, “Don’t get upset if some little thing bothers you, she’s your friend.”

“Always be there when you know you’re needed,” says Donna, and to Joan, “You were always there, my dear.”  

So maybe it is just that simple.

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. Our seniors have amazing stories that hold a wealth of wisdom. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

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