My friend Margaret and I first met me when I was 6 weeks old and she was 40years ahead of me. I don't remember much about that! She was the primary 1-3 teacher in a 3 teacher rural school where my Dad had gained the position of headteacher. My parents arrived from Dad's last post on Islay to a schoolhouse on mainland Scotland with 3 kids under 5 years old. Margaret was a regular visitor - nipping in at the end of the day to chat with Mum & Dad.
Many years past before I regularly saw Margaret again as I moved away and our lives were very separate. But in 1995 we re-kindled our friendship when my eldest daughter started weekly piano lessons with Margaret. At first I still felt like "the little girl" , but bit by bit as conversations extended beyond Emily's next lesson I started to learn that Margaret and I had quite a lot in common!
Over the last 15 years a lot has happened for both of us. We've listened to each other, and laughed so much we've cried - and we've cried with heavy hearts at the sadder times.
On Wednesday of this week I collected Margaret and we went out for the day up to Braemar. She named all the hills through Bridge of Cally and up into Glenshee - her old "stomping" ground as she called it. It was a beautiful, sunny day.
She strided up the main street in Braemar, sometimes ahead of me! We had coffee and a snack and headed home, stopping off at Glenshee pottery for more retail therapy and a cup of tea.
I loved listening to Margaret reminisce about her time up in Blairgowrie, cycling the roads and climbing the hills of Perthshire. How much richer my life is for having this friendship!
I think we all tend to make assumptions about people older than ourselves, but sometimes if we just take time to listen we might be surprised by what we hear....for me it's the realisation that, with Margaret at least, I have a dear friend who does understand me, while also sharing my sense of humour and enthusiasm for life.
"Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul." - Samuel Ullman