I never knew life without Suzanne Patrick and Neville Frierson. We were introduced before we could walk, and then we shared birthday parties and all other life events. Suzanne and Neville were bridesmaids in my wedding. Though we were separated by distance, we always kept in touch, remembering the old “ties that bind” with love. And now one of these friends has died. I am sure Neville is feeling the hole in her heart as am I.
The booklet from which these accompanying pictures came was made for me as a gift from Suzanne. She also gave one to Neville. Suzanne was creative and loved painting. During a class reunion weekend, I hosted a showing of her work in the lobby of First Bank (now Simmons). I remember her excitement at the many compliments on her work.
I called her parents Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Irene. My parents were Dee-Dot and Uncle Lloyd to her. They were part of a group called the “kitchen friends” and were together every Saturday night and all holidays. Pop Sloan played the piano by ear, and Suzanne and I would sneak close enough to hear him play “Tiptoe Through the Tulips with Me.” There was never any alcohol served in this group, but you would never have known it with the loud laughter, joke telling, and teasing that went on. I have always thought this the reason their friendship survived as long as they were alive, because they cared for one another in a gentle way. I never heard any anger expressed by that group. The sons of the Ralph Sloans joined us at times, primarily Christmas night to play with my toys!
Suzanne was known for her colorful clothes, the hair ribbons, and the matching shoes to every outfit. She was very feminine both in her attire and make-up. Clothes were important to her, and she would call months ahead of a trip to ask what we were taking. Her choices were part of Suzanne’s creativity. She was a lovely model for the stores in her area until just a few years ago. There is a certain sense of amusement that she was found in her closet. I can just see her smiling as she chose her clothes for the next outing.
I have a funny story that I just can’t resist repeating. Several years ago, the group of high school friends met at Neville’s home in outside Chicago for the weekend. It was hot as blazes that week, and I noticed Suzanne had on a long skirt in the fashion of that year. It was black, and I think it was from the traveler’s group at Chico’s. We shared rooms in the tennis house, and that night as we readied ourselves for bed, Suzanne said she was so glad she could get out of those clothes. I was startled to be told she had a pair of slacks on under the skirt and asked her why. Suzanne replied that in case of an emergency landing she would need the pants as she had on a skirt – so, wearing the slacks under it, though hot, gave her a look she wanted. She could modestly use the chute. Though friends, we were very different.
One of the highlights of the Chicago trip was to tour Millennium Park. Neville’s husband John was our guide, showing us the reality of his dream as he had played a big role in the creation of the park. However, Suzanne said she had to have a wheelchair for the tour as her back was hurting. Neville found one and pushed Suzanne in the soaring heat so that she could enjoy the park. The love and consideration between these two friends were visible to all.
In the ways that counted, we were there for each other. I will miss our long phone chats. Suzanne didn’t accept that computers are useful as a means of communication, so never learned to text or email. I found early on that if I encouraged her to learn, she would get very defensive with me.
Suzanne, I have loved you dearly these many years, and right now I want to pick up the phone and find out how things are with you today. In my deepest being, I know you as a faithful child of God. I can just picture you, so peaceful and surrounded by love. Your emotional and physical pain are of the past. You are loved and remembered for your sweetness and loyalty to your family and friends. I will miss you.