As a genealogist, I’ve spent a lot of time over the years focused on family. But for generations, women have expanded their families with an important addition – their best friends. My mother, Alice Vivian Batchelor, taught me by example about the extraordinary value of best friends.
Her best friend was Sitella Glenn and she and Mom were BFFs for well over 40 years. Here’s a picture of them back in the day – Mom in the big hat and Sitella on the right with the beautiful smile.
These two friends met through their husbands when Sitella had moved to Detroit from Cuba after she got married. What initially brought Mom and Sitella together was their love of Spanish. My mother had studied Spanish in college and was fluent but had no one to talk with. A mutual friend introduced them and Mom and Sitella became friends forever.
They went through life’s ups and downs together, raised their children, lost their parents, empty-nested and lost their husbands. But friendship sustained these two fearless females. And it was an important lesson because I saw firsthand how, as this anonymous quote says better than I ever could –
Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.
As the years went by, the friendship was challenged when my mother started declining from dementia. But even as the fog of dementia grew thicker, the one thing that could lift it for Mom was a visit from her best friend.
I remember the times when Sitella would come to visit and my mother would light up with a big smile of recognition. Her friend was there and that much Mom was sure of.
In January, 2013, my mother became very ill with the flu and pneumonia. She was in the hospital for a few days and then back home to recuperate. Of course, the first person to come and visit was Sitella.
Sadly though, Mom didn’t recover and she passed away on January 20, 2013. And her BFF was there for us – as friend and family.
Just this past Thanksgiving, Sitella came and had dinner with us instead of her own family. As I look back on that day, we were all comforted by her presence, bright smile and enduring friendship.
She is truly a best friend forever.