Good friends, good times, good memories

Published 5:00 am Monday, June 16, 2003

“The better part of one’s life consists of hisfriendships.”

Abraham Lincoln

Gifts from God don’t come wrapped in shiny paper or tied up inpretty bows, yet they are life’s most precious.

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Just think about it.

Laughter and love are more valuable than gold.

Kindness and support are better than diamonds.

A good friend is better than just about anything.

For the past two years, I was able to get to know and becomefriends with Helen Gregory. We were neighbors at the Inez Hotel. Aweek ago today, I lost a good friend with Helen’s passing.

Age was no barrier to this friendship. Helen was 74. I am 47.Put us together and we could still giggle like silly, teenagegirls.

Sitting at her dining table, usually enjoying a glass of icedtea, we would solve all the problems of the world. That was easy.What was difficult was for two grown women to figure out how tooperate the remote-controlled CD player.

Good conversation was plentiful in Helen’s apartment. Wediscussed everything from politics to potted plants to antiques toHolmes County, where she grew up and where I went to juniorcollege.

There was no shortage of good food, either, and Helen was alwaysmore than willing to share. Many of the Inez residents enjoyed hercorned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day. I had never tastedlamb until Helen cooked some a few months ago. It was great.

Last summer we went off together in search of fresh vegetablesand struck gold at a Lincoln County farm. Hours of pea shellingfollowed, but the reward was divine — peas and cornbread.

I was often amazed at what Helen was able to accomplish despiteher arthritis. I know this condition must have caused her pain, butI don’t recall ever hearing her complain — unless it was over alack of homegrown tomatoes.

If I asked, “How are you doing today?” more than likely thereply was a “mah-va-lus” that would make Billy Crystal proud.

Helen Gregory was a column writer’s dream: always complimenting,always encouraging.

So, my friend, this one is for you.

I hope the peas and cornbread in heaven are as good asyours.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551 Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to