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11:08 PM Mon, Oct. 22nd

Older Than Dirt: Her Name Was Dianna

Her name was Dianna. Her family called her Dinny. Dianna was a common name back then, but she was not a common person. I know we all have that one special friend from childhood who makes us smile whenever we think of them. That someone who shared the goofy days of growing up with you.

Dianna lived around the corner from us on Hershey Street. I went to her house each morning to pick her up for school. She was soft spoken and had the most beautiful big brown eyes. We walked together, and that made the long walk pass quickly. My sister had already moved on to middle school, and I was grateful not to have to walk alone.

Dianna was a very kind and gentle soul. She never made me feel bad because my shoes had holes in them, or my clothes were not as nice as hers. Sometimes, she even gave me a sweater to wear if it was cold outside. She would often add some cookies or a piece of fruit to my sack lunch so I would have enough to eat.

Often times after school I would hang out at her house until her folks got home. We would sit under the big tree in her front yard and talk about what we would do when we grew up. We would sometimes play hide and seek, just to get away from her pesky little brother, Roger.

When we were old enough to move on to middle school, we walked to the bus stop together every day. By now we had began talking about boys, and which ones we thought were cute.

On one summer vacation (what they used to call that three months of the year when no one went to school), I saw a big moving truck in front of Dianna's house. I figured one of her neighbors must be moving away. But alas, as I approached her house, I could see that it was HER family that was moving! I could not believe what I was seeing. How could they just up and move? People only did that if they were in the military or something.

I stopped dead in the middle of the street. I began to cry as my friend came to meet me.

"I am sorry," she said. "I didn't want to tell you until the last minute."

My heart was broken. How could she leave me? What would I do without her? Back in those days, friends were often gone forever if they moved to another state. They were moving to Minnesota. It may as well have been another country.

Fast forward thirty-seven years ...

Thanks to computers, I found my friend Dianna now living in Louisville, Ky. Oddly enough, she lived less than a mile from my brother at the time. Both of them started out in San Diego, but ended up in Kentucky. I was thrilled, and made the trip to Kentucky. It was a combined family and old friend trip.

When I saw Dianna again, it was as though I had seen her yesterday. She not only looked much the same, but she remained the sweet, soft-spoken girl I remembered. We spent a wonderful day together. I went to her house, met her husband, and saw photos of her family. We shared lunch and laughed about some of the crap we pulled when we were kids. We vowed we would not loose touch again! We exchanged photos, Christmas cards and eventually e-mails. It was wonderful!

Once again, my friend has broken my heart. This time, she will truly be gone forever. Last week she made that one last move we will all make someday. She is an angel in heaven, I am sure.

As I relive all the childhood memories each day, I am so thankful that I took the time to look for her when I did. I know I have written about these kinds of reunions that had a much less happy outcome. This was a gift of friendship that not everyone gets to experience.

People will often change as they grow up. Things happen in their lives that take them in many different directions. I feel very blessed to have had Dianna in my life for the relatively short time that I did. She was a gift for which I am forever grateful.