“Betsy and Jinny are Alpha-Chi’s, doo-dah, doo-dah!!!” my room mate Betsy and I sang as the bid cards slid under our door, last door on the 4th floor of Collins Dorm closest to the South stair well. We sprinted with our cards to a drawing room in the Student Union Building and were embraced by some of the best people I have ever met.
Both Houstonians, (Betsy from Memorial High and me from Bellaire) we were set up to room together by our mutual friend, Ricky Fram. Our dorm room had a barnyard theme with Spiegel comforters and corresponding bulletin boards with hot-glued sheep on them for that “decorator” touch. We were self-impressed until we spied a room with fully-covered Laura Ashley-padded walls and Dallas Moms in the throes of elevating beds with cinderblocks. Bets and I may have required padded walls that year but not the floral chintz variety.
But, I digress. Back to bid day. After the new class assembled, we went out to dinner and were seated at tables with other “sisters.” To my right was Stork as she was known. Andrea Stork from St. Louis. The model. The girl who took a professional hockey player to prom. The shy, beautiful girl who wondered what 5th level of Hell she had fallen into to be seated next to me. It turned out that AXO was a second choice for both of us but I knew and adored the girls in there while Andrea knew no one. She was a shy out-of-stater which was a definite negative in those days while I was an extroverted, Baptist, Texan legacy, so I had no excuse.
None the less, I was ecstatic. And it showed as I ecstatically shared my enthusiasm with all around me. Unfortunately, Andrea was around me. I blithely soaked in all things red and green: girls who had rushed me came by with hugs and sweet words and I felt so grateful and happy. Looking back on my Freshman Fall transcript, I am inordinately blessed that any sorority would have me in its 50-member pledge class. While I took it all in, reserved Stork excused herself to come up for air in the women’s restroom.
As fate would have it, I wore Storker down. I was mainly so in awe of her 6 feet tall / size two beauty and grace that I truly never anticipated her wanting to be actual friends with me; she was The Stork. Somehow mere repeated exposure lead to acceptance and before long I was using her and St. Louis room mate Jen Paige’s window to access the deck to lay out on the Collins roof that Spring. I had to be tan to catch one of those Baylor guys.
We both settled in and learned that there was more to each other than met the eye. Under my thick layer of loud was a spiritual core and beyond her intimidating beauty there was a deep and spiritual core as well. Stork was a thoughtful note-writer, a noticer of other’s beauty. When you received a note of affirmation from her, it was pure GOLD. She was pure gold. Senior Year, we lived together: Stork and Jen in one room and sweet Arkansan Gina Rhodes and me in the other. Gina and I were bound for Seminary the next year, Stork would graduate in fashion design and Jen in Business.
After graduation we kept in close touch. Those girls were in my wedding, I in theirs. I was into my 2nd trimester with Maggie Lee as I walked down the aisle in Andrea’s wedding. We had children, saw each other and as life has a way of doing slowly drifted apart. Fast forward to July 2009. The first week at Batson Children’s Hospital with Maggie Lee. Gina R. Was coming, Gina Rhodes Carter who was en route with Colleen and Kathy Carlisle said that Jen and Stork wanted to know if they should come. I said of course. I wanted them there. Cousin Judy and Mo rounding out my girl squad.
A friend loves at all times. And kinfolk are born to share adversity (Proverbs 17:17, best original language translation.) I never would’ve imagined that the beautiful Stork would also have a spine of steel strong enough for me to lean on in my darkest hour. That same beautiful heart leads her to love kindergarteners who need a little Mother Love each week, serve in 5-year-old kindergarten and foster abandoned Lab puppies. She intently cares for those who often have messy medical prognosis and do not live. She’s the brown-eyed girl with the heart of love who lives to spread joy.
Professionally she works in admissions for TCU. Having her Whitney and Laney in from college is her favorite thing. She loves her family fiercely, serves through her church gladly and dang it if she is not aging backwards. She is one of the deeper believers I know, able to let go of the outcome when life gets brutal and terrifying: of great instruct to me. I still feel honored to be loved by this incredible friend. All of us blessed enough to move in her orbit do. She appreciates life and her people, and although she hated me on day one, somehow she loves me now. And I, her.