A few days ago I spent the better part of an afternoon at a restaurant with Usha and Gayle. Usha and Gayle live in the same town and have long been friends. I met them separately, drawn by the forces that bring mothers together. While our children created the circumstances of our introductions, however, it is the syncopation of our personalities that makes our friendship dance.

We are a doctor, an artist and a college teacher: the doctor is a poet, the artist is a community stalwart and the teacher spends too much time in the garden. And while we are inseparable, our children only have the vaguest awareness of each other.

As we sat in the restaurant, we celebrated Usha’s 32nd anniversary with a gift of vegetables and geraniums, and laughed because it took her a while to figure out how long she had been married. We admired Gayle’s new do and commiserated about gray hair and the blunt ways that loved ones have expressed astonishment at the quantity of silver we suddenly seem to sport. We agitated about the state of health care and discussed hospitals, physicians, dentists and opthamologists in nearly slanderous terms.

Of course we caught up on the doings of the kids, most of which conversation centered on employment and romance. My son had just found a job after six months of searching and several disappointments. Another one of our sons had lost his job at Corning and replaced it, for three months anyway, with a berth on a cruise ship departing from Rome and the task of demonstrating glass-blowing to passengers. A third son–despite movie-star good looks, boyish charm and a Ph.D. in physics–was finding few employment opportunities in any field and no encouragement from potential employers. We all felt his frustration. All the lad wants is a job, some good friends, and some good times.  You know, the guarantees, such as we now parse them, of the Declaration of Independence.

We moved on to other topics, I no longer remember what, a winding path that led Gayle to an uproarious account of how she and a neighbor share the cost of a basket of fruit and nuts to be given to friends who have suffered some loss. We found this tradition of gift-giving sweet. Their uncertainly over which of them was the fruit and which was the nut was hilarious.

A Basket of Nuts.

His mother said, ” That’s all I want for him–his own basket of nuts,” and we parted in a flurry of hugs and kisses and expressions of hope that all our children will find their own basket of nuts.

Because, heaven knows, we have certainly found ours.