March 9, 2014: Friendship

Sam ~ far left, Ben ~ far right
I saw on FaceBook that a friend's elderly father had passed away. Although I hadn't seen her dad in years, the posted pictures and obituary brought back fond memories. The Ferrara's have been very good to me over the course of the last twenty-five years.

Although I would consider myself a casual friend of this big brood, some friendships have run deeper; dependent on the time placement within our life cycles. The posted reflections gave me a life look-back on my own interactions with the family.

I moved to Omaha in May of 1989. Other than a handful of Scott's family, I knew no one. We lived with his grandparents that first summer and I worked downtown at Kiewit. Since Scott had attended college for two years at UNO, he had some friends that we soon made arrangements to meet.

We moved to Omaha on a Sunday. I started work on a Monday and by Tuesday night, we went to a slow-pitch softball game to meet up with some of Scott's buddies. As I joined a bleacher full of strangers, a soft-spoken girl sat next to me and introduced herself as Debbie. She was pretty with big blond permed hair.

I soon learned that Debbie was engaged to John Ferrara, the firstborn son of the South Omaha Ferrara clan. He had nine sisters born before him and a baby brother after him.

Debbie and I found commonality. We began meeting for lunches during workdays as we both worked downtown. Scott and I were included in weekend couple get-togethers. Debbie invited me to join her sand volleyball team and I was added to her short-list of girlfriends who went out regularly.

Debbie was my first friend in Omaha. I will always be grateful to her for that. She and John were very kind to me.

Through their friendship, I met the rest of the expansive Ferrara family. Tony was the patriarch, content in living in the family home in South Omaha while tending to his expansive garden.

Scott and I would see Tony each year at the College World Series. He would sell spots in his yard for parking. We would always look to park there as it was an excuse to stop in. Without fail, Tony would walk us through his garden and ask if we wanted to sit down for a bit. No World Series was complete without rocking in a lawn chair with a beer in hand while Tony roasted his prized peppers on the grill.

Our life cycles continued over the years with divorces and a College World Series that moved from South Omaha. I haven't seen much of either Debbie or John since our now seniors graduated from 8th grade.

The years of late have been filled with a Tony's handsome grandson, Sammy Ferrara Elliott, a current regular in my home. Sam was one of the blond bombs who won the Skutt State Football Championship this year with Ben. He and Ben's close friendship began their freshman year and continues today. I greatly look forward to seeing how the friendships between the next generations of Lane's and Ferrara's will flourish.

Life has gone full circle these many years with growing children and changing lives. But one thing remains constant and that is the impact of our daily relationships. Although Debbie probably doesn't remember the kindness she showed me that first summer in Omaha as being anything extraordinary, I'll never forget it.

I will also never be able to think of the College World Series without picturing Tony Ferrara in his garden. There have been other interactions between John and I, and his family, that have been Godwinks to me over the years. To them, these events were likely just an ordinary daily event. To me, they were welcomed acts of kindness. The lesson learned is to never underestimate the impact of our daily interactions with the people of whom we share them.

 

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