Avon calling!

Avon_1I grew up in the era of door-to-door sales. It’s pretty uncommon today, but I can clearly remember my mother wanting to hide from those peddlers of vacuums, cleaning products, and encyclopedias. However, one door-to-door salesperson was always welcome; the Avon lady.

I used to love watching the Avon lady unpack her bag with the latest fragrances in the most unusual decanters. Men’s cologne in a bottle shaped like a car was the perfect Father’s Day gift. And who wouldn’t want to collect the bride and groom figurines filled with your choice of Moonwind, Occur, or my personal favorite, Sweet Honesty? From perfume to makeup to jewelry, Avon had it all and brought it conveniently to your living room!

A few years after I married, I came home from work and found a plastic bag attached to my front door with a familiar logo. The Avon lady had visited! I began pouring over the pages of the catalog and marking items I’d long forgotten that I needed. I called the number on the back of the catalog and placed my order. Thus began a friendship with my Avon lady, Eileen.

Eileen was about my mother’s age and had the greatest Canadian accent. She was always dressed very nicely and accessorized with the latest Avon jewelry. Her makeup was flawless. She was a living, breathing advertisement for her company. She was also very personable. Not long after I met Eileen, we became neighbors. The husband and I purchased the home next door to her and her husband Hec.

Over the five or six years we were neighbors, we had the opportunity to learn more about this interesting couple. Hec had served in the Canadian Army during World War II, and Eileen had moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a secretary assisting in the war effort. They immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s (which was quite the story!). Our friendship and bond was solidified when Hec had a heart attack and my husband performed CPR until Hec could be transported to the hospital.

Shortly afterward, we moved from that neighborhood, and Hec and Eileen moved a few years later, as well. Our contact was reduced to the occasional Avon purchase and Christmas cards. We were excited to attend Hec’s 80th birthday party and had a great time catching up. As we left, we promised to visit more often.

Unfortunately, we waited too long to fulfill that promise and Hec passed away. We were out of town during his funeral, which made it worse. We missed our window of opportunity. We vowed to not make that mistake with Eileen.  However, time has a way of passing, and before we knew it, six years had passed.

We took action a few weeks ago and met Eileen for breakfast. She hasn’t changed. She’s moved to a retirement center, which is a little like a resort. Her apartment is small, but she was able to fit in many of the things she cherishes, including her grandfather clock and of course, her Avon collectibles.

The days of door-to-door sales has past. In fact, most of us can easily purchase almost anything we want or need online without any personal interaction. Although it’s extremely convenient, it’s also a little sad. Nothing really compares to that one-on-one we got from our Avon lady. She lived in our town and knew our neighbors. She provided the latest information about everything from road construction to the newest restaurants. She was a fixture in our lives. Best of all, my Avon lady became my friend.

Forever Friends

I’m fortunate to have a lot of people in my life I consider friends. However, only a handful of these can be considered close friends. These are friends who I may not see for months or sometimes even years, but when we do get together, it’s as if no time has passed. I know their siblings and parents as well as my own family. I had dinner at Rustler’s Rooste in Phoenix, AZ with one such friend last week.

My cousin Debbie, Carol's brother Steve, Me, my cousin Jimmy and Carol

Carol and I have known each other since grade school when her family moved next door. She was in fifth grade and I was in fourth. I only mention this because at this point in my life, it’s fun to point out that she’s older. Her first boyfriend was my cousin and my first boyfriend was her brother. Carol and I, along with my cousin Debbie, spent our summers “picking” berries (we weren’t very productive, but we had a lot of fun!) and swimming. We were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings.

When Carol moved out of state, we only saw each other when she came home to visit her family. This was before email became an indispensable tool of communication, and long before we could follow each other’s daily lives on Facebook. But somehow we’ve been able to stay connected. Those long summer days as preteens and teens bonding over boys and difficulties with our mothers created an unbreakable connection.

Carol and her husband Dave

We reminisced over dinner about those days, but also talked about the satisfaction of being in long term marriages, the concern over watching our parents age, the trauma of going through the change, and plans for our retirement years. It’s great to be able to pick up right where we left off and know this is someone I can count on to understand who I was, who I’ve become and my journey to become a woman of finesse*.  To all my forever friends, this blog’s for you!

My friendship finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert            

What’s your friendship finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)