An ode to a friend 7

My apologies in advance for a blog that breaks every rule: it’s too long, too personal, too sad. But in a month focusing on LOYALTY, these rules can be broken to celebrate an extraordinary friendship. One that’s lasted fifty years.

In many ways, Anna and I could not have been more different. Anna was almost 6 foot and I stretched to just 5 foot 4 inches (well maybe 3 and half inches). Anna came from a conservative Eastern European home and I was from an Aussie family.  Anna was not into school but committed to fashion, dancing and having a good time. A really good time. I was a dedicated student with plans for university and higher education, and lesser plans for weekend entertainment. But we went to school together, played sport together, dated boys together and spent so much time laughing and sharing our deepest secrets that I could never have imagined a lifetime without her.

Then tragically, in 1979, I lost Anna in a car accident. Now I look back on our growing years, the wonder years, with such fondness that every memory moves me.

Anna’s family was Ukrainian. When I slept over, her mum made food that made my mouth water. She loved to cook traditional foods like Varenyky and Deruni (potato pancakes) but my favourite was Holubtsi, boiled rice and meat wrapped in boiled cabbage leaves. We would sit up at the kitchen bench with her mum to listen to stories of their homeland and adjustment to life in Australia. Anna would glance over at me. As if she were checking that I was part of the conversation. But I was engaged, fully engaged. Her mum’s love and passion enfolded me.

Anna loved to dance. It wasn’t just a talent, it was an obsession. If we arrived at a party or event, it would take only minutes for her to round up the DJ and fill the dance floor with people and laughter. She was more than happy to take the centre of attention and allow others to gather about her. Not out of arrogance or self-importance but as the self-appointed “minister of fun”. I can never hear the song “Rasputin” without smiling at her loud boisterous singing, with a bit of Russian dancing thrown in for good measure, which would in turn ignite a wave of joy and energy that proved irresistible even to the most restrained.

Anna was a brilliant athlete who played netball and softball for Australia, as well as playing in the Soccer World Cup where she was awarded player of the tournament. Her skills, power, technical commitment and gameplay were truly second to none. She was the game changer.

Anna was powerful, funny, kind, loud and eccentric. She had the kind of loyalty that could almost appear as rage. Anna was relentless in every sense of the word. And the world was certainly richer for her appearance and poorer for her departure. Anna was the kind of friend you never want to leave behind and on days like today I see that I never did let you go. You carved your way into my heart and I have carried you ever since.

Kelley ❤️

About Kelley

Kelley is a speaker, author, overseas aid worker and perpetual student. She is passionate about women and gender issues, both in the local and international context, which underpins her enthusiasm for kinwomen and its contribution to women ‘living their finest life’. In 2014 Kelley completed a Masters in International and Community Development before establishing The Foxglove Project. Foxglove is a registered charity focused on supporting international development projects that are sustainable and driven by indigenous leadership. Kelley’s paid work requires her to travel extensively to evaluate and support projects supported by Australian funds. This experience and networking enables Foxglove to partner with outstanding overseas agencies delivering real opportunities for the poor and vulnerable to lead independent self-determined lives. Kelley combines these passions with a love of family and faith. Across more than 30 years of marriage, Kelley and her husband have worked through many of the challenges of building a relationship while raising three sons. Their boys have now finished high school changing the dynamics of family life and relationships. One of her great joys is sharing parenting lessons and learning from good and bad (sometimes disastrous) experiences. She uses humour and common sense to talk about the everyday challenges facing parents in today’s context.

7 thoughts on “An ode to a friend

    • Kelley Chisholm

      She was that one in a million friend. Still painful to remember her passing but impossible to forget. Xxx

  • Julie Smilkovic

    So beautiful Kelly. I can just see you as young girls best friends living life and having fun. So blessed to have beautiful girlfriends like this. Loved this so much thank you for sharing … and oh how you must miss Anna. ??

  • andrea morris

    Kelley Thank you for your words sharing your heart..I lost my beautiful girlfriend Katrina on October 17, my husbands 60th birthday when we were supposed to be rejoicing at Joff being a young 60 the girls and i were ugly gut wrenching crying in the kitchen..joff trying to contain his sadness… an all too familiar occurrence having lost my darling sister on June 30.. these words were written by another friend of Kats- they express so well the agony of loss..

    There are moments that the words dont reach There is a grace too powerful to name We push away the unimaginable -LinManual Miranda

    Today is grief
    I don’t even have the words
    I have been sitting here trying to work out what to say
    My ferocious and beautiful kindred spirit Katrina passed away today
    today i have no words this grief is beyond even my loquacious nature to express
    i want to selfishly scream at the world to bring her back
    The world is a little less bright without the flame of her hair
    the hope in her words
    and the ferocity of her spirit
    written by Alison James

    today i cant seem to stop being sad …i have a leaky face
    i will weep because i loved much Our girlfriends are such wonderful gifts to this world

    • Kelley Chisholm

      Oh the loss…love and friendship takes such deep root that it leaves a hole impossible to fill. Instead we hold the memories and whisper, “see you soon”. Xxx

  • Craig Laffin

    Hi Kelley

    Thank you for sharing your memory of Anna. So moving so sad. Makes us wonder why we are here and not the one lost.
    I too lost someone special to me decades ago. Your story brought my memory to the front of my mind but it is always in my mind.
    I feel guilty that I had not kept in better touch with my friend before his death – again in a car accident.

    To absent friends.

    • Kelley Chisholm

      To absent and wonderful friends who continue to “speak into” our lives with their stories and memories. So glad it reminded you of your friend. Let’s not forget motley regret. Everyone understand – or at least those who truly matter.

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