Oct 1, 2012

Sue MacKay on Writing & Friends

My oldest friend arrived in this world when I was nearly two. Her parents had a farm around the road from my parent's flower and sheep farm. One of Daphne's brothers is my brother's best mate. Living in the back of beyond, or so it seemed back then, we spent virtually every weekend at each other's place or on the road in between and looking for eels in the creek. We walked the miles to the school bus together.

My brother and I shared the Crocombe's grandparents as we didn't have any left. Whenever they all went to the beach so did we. There'd be seven kids squashed into the car, the windows done and the dust from the road pouring in and clogging our throats. To this day I dislike tinned peas which were always present at those beach picnics.

When I was ten I went to boarding school where one of the best times of day was when the mail arrived. Daphne and I wrote to each other throughout the years I was away, she keeping me uptodate with her family and friends, while I wrote about a very different world to where we lived. I cherished those letters. And this year for my birthday she sent me a letter - the old fashioned way, written with a pen on paper and posted in an envelope.

Most of our lives we've lived a fair way apart, many of those years in different islands of New Zealand, but we know the other one is there at the end of a phone, email or plane trip. This is true friendship and oh, so important.
When I wrote The Dangers of Dating Your boss I needed for my heroine an old lady neighbour who always had big bloomers hanging on the washing line. Naming this lady came out of left field, 'call her Mrs Crocombe'. So I did and when the book arrived in hard copy I sent Daphne a copy with a covering note, 'Please apologise to your mum for the bloomers. I know she never wore them in her life.'
Last week I received a thick but soft envelope in the post. Opening it I found the biggest pair of bright pink knickers signed by Mrs Crocombe - the now well-known-in-Meremere Mrs C. These knickers are now fixed in pride of place on my office wall making me laugh every time I look up.
This truly is a life long friendship that includes all the members of our families. We only have a handful of close friends but they are worth their weight in gold.

Do you have a special lifelong friend? Tell me about them and go into the draw for a copy of Every Boy's Dream Dad.


  1. What a wonderful friendship Sue. Yes i have a great friend. We met in a youth hostel in france in 1979 when i asked if i could use the bottom bunk instead of the top. She was Canadian and we've been best mates ever since. I was her bridesmaid and have visited Canada 9 times she's been here 4, most recently this March with her family. Her mother became my 2nd mother and when her mother was ill and dying i flew to canada to be with Kathleen's mum. Thousands of miles separate us, but our freindship is as strong as it's always been.

    Jane B

  2. Wow, Jane, that's a true friendship too. Isn't it lovely how we take on the whole family with these friendships. We all need someone like that in our lives.

  3. Sue, those pink bloomers must cause many a double-take when you have visitors! What a fab friendship the two of you have!

    Because we moved around a fair bit when I was a child, I can't claim to have kept a friend for that long. But I do have a couple of treasured long-term friends - one that I trained with in New Zealand and another that I met in Australia when I first arrived. She's gone home to Wales now. We keep in touch with email and phone and very occasional visits.

  4. Hi Sharon, yes, a bit eyecatching to say the least. Thank goodness my office is tucked away at the back of the garage.
    Any close friend is a treasure, I think. I've added a couple more over the years. But the great thing with Daphne is we just know so much about each other's pasts.

  5. Sue, what a beautiful post. When I was very little, all the extended family used to pack into cars and head off for picnics in a place called Gympie and surrounds where my mother and sisters grew up. I liked to climb in the back of my granpa's station wagon with my younger aunts. We'd all rock around the back, with no seatbelts of course, laughing and sharing. They were really good days. One of my aunts loved mushy peas. They looked totally fowl to me. But I accidentally ate a fresh version at a restaurant this year and really liked them. I actually bought a tin of mushy peas just yesterday because this is my year for doing things I never have before. Haven't eaten them yet. I'll work up to it lol
    My sister is my best friend. We know everything about each other and have always been there to share and support one another. We live literally around the corner from each other now. Not too close at all =)

  6. Robbie, that's so lovely to have such a close sister. I can picture your trips in the station wagon, so like ours. But eeww, those peas. No way. I'll try new things but not going there. Yet. Mind you, I think there was always a dash of sand in ours.

  7. Sue, what a lovely post. I'm just back from an outing to a plant nursery. While there I looked up to see Mr H, the dad of my best friend from school. I hadn't seen him in a couple of years but his daughter and I keep in touch so I know how he and Mrs H are going. It was great getting a personal update and remembering how special that friendship between families is.

    Love the pink undies!

  8. Nothing like it, is there, Annie? Keeping in touch is lovely too, if you're close enough in distance.
    Yes, the pink is very -- pink!

  9. I have 5 sisters that I count as best friends. It's rather wonderful.

    LOVE the pink knickers!! I saw the picture before I read the post. So pleased you explained. I did wonder.

  10. Laughing, Marybelle. Definitely glad I explained!!
    Five sisters, five best friends, awesome.

  11. What a fabulous post, Sue. I love those signed bloomers - it's a bit Tom Jones! LOL.

    I don't have any life-long friendships like that. You're very lucky to have someone know you so well.

    My oldest continuous close friend I met when I was in my 20s. Everyone else I've met since then. Because I moved a bit when I left home, I often find it odd that some of my close friends have never met each other. That always makes me realise how special friendships are and how few make it along the road with you.

    I'm glad you have such a wonderful friendship - and that she has such a wicked sense of humour!


  12. Hi Cath, yes I am very lucky. But I think those few close friends we make further on are just as special and important. And sometimes I'm glad they don't know my early years!

  13. Sue
    What a wonderful memory and loved the picture.

    I've 2 people that I call best friends. Deb I met in my 20's through a singles group at church. I moved out of town, she married but we've kept in touch via phone, letters and now email and occasionally meet up for lunch. She's someone who is there for me when I need it.

    Karin and I "met" through our church confirmation classes when we were 12. She was from Rochester, New York, I was from Hay Springs, Nebraska. Two more diverse towns there couldn't be... big city- small country town. We've met in person a few times, both in New York and Missouri (where I now live). I'm aging myself now, but it's been over 40 years and we still have a special friendship.

    Two greater friends I couldn't ask for who will always hold a special place in my heart.
    Thanks for letting me have a moment to think about these 2 special ladies.

  14. Yes, we met when we were kids. We still keep in touch.

  15. Love the pink bloomers on your board! Mrs C sounds like a hoot.

    I have some long term friends but my sisters are my best friends, and I've known them a lifetime. :)