Last year, I was joyfully planning to see a long-time friend in Connecticut. Unfortunately, the visit was cancelled because she had a bad case of the flu. Then the pandemic hit. As life began to return to normal, my trip was back on! Since I was headed for the East Coast, I decided to add Philadelphia as my first stop and first visit another friend, one I had known for nearly 40 years.
Anne and I became acquainted through Junior League of Philadelphia. Our families became close and shared many good times. She was a health care marketing executive and I was in health care fundraising, and our paths often crossed. In fact, Anne recommended me for a job at Nemours Children's Health, where she had worked for many years. Our friendship only deepened during her late husband Rick's long illness. After more than three years apart, we were thrilled to see each other.
First stop was an outdoor reception for a retiring Nemours doc, where I ran into a few folks I knew. Then it was off to dinner at a Wilmington seafood restaurant with my former boss, Lori. The three of us talked for hours, catching up on kids, jobs, retirement and life in general.
The next day, after a wonderful lunch at the Merion Country Club, where we enjoyed watching golfers on the first tee, Anne and I toured the Philadelphia area, driving by our old house on Contention Lane, and many other places that were dear to me when we lived in the Delaware Valley for a total of 24 years. So many changes since then. We stopped at the upscale Di Bruno's Italian deli and gathered goodies for a picnic at Valley Forge Park. Sitting atop a rise, we enjoyed the densely wooded vista and talked to our heart's content.
After breakfast on Anne's patio the next morning, we headed to Center City Philadelphia. She showed me the house that her daughter Abbe has just purchased in the hip neighborhood of Fishtown, as well as the big changes in the University of Pennsylvania's health care campus, Boathouse Row, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Love Park, home of the iconic Love sculpture. I drank it all in. Many thanks to my good friend for making our brief time together so special.
Then it was time to drop me off at historic 30th Street Station, Opened in 1933, the station has a soaring ceiling and boasts an enormous bronze statue that depicts a winged angel lifting a lifeless soldier toward the heavens. It was commissioned as a memorial to the 1,307 railroad employees who perished in World War II and was prominently featured in the movie Witness.
As I boarded the train to Connecticut, I was reminded of the many trips I made from that station back and forth to Williamsburg, VA after I accepted a job with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. My husband Andy stayed put there with the dog while we sold our home. For ten weeks, I'd leave at noon on Friday and return on Sunday evening, a six-hour journey each way, that was relaxing after a busy week. More in my next post...
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I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.