you might be wondering who, or what, are "f.o.t.h.s.?"
f.o.t.h.s is an acronym coined by helen, one of our group.
a friendship was formed among a handful of teenage girls more than 37 years ago.
we found ourselves flung together in a secretarial college which was housed in two old, formerly large houses, where we were to master the fine art of being indispensable secretaries of the 70's.
in that cosy environment, which seemed to us free and so grown up after the rules and confines of our respective high schools, we would learn how to take dictation in pitman shorthand at formidable speeds of 100 and 120 words per minute; how to transcribe the resulting outlines into flawless correspondence, typed at the breakneck speed of 60 words per minute without, i might add, the luxury or "technology' of electric typewriters or word processors.
in the days of manual typewriters where each letter was often accompanied by 6, count them, 6, carbon copies, this was no mean feat.
we didn't really know it then but we were young girls in our prime.
we were firm and fair, fit and fabulous.
we knew how to wear mini skirts and knee high boots, how to apply dramatic eye make up and how to toss our flowing locks while we danced our feet off on the dance floors of the local clubs and pubs.
our college was the turning point in all of our lives and we loved everything about it; the teachers and all of their idiosyncrasies; the great location, right next to the sea front, where we could escape on days when we'd just had enough of the world, and close to some of the best pubs, cafes and music halls where the big groups of the day regularly played.
not forgetting the best fish shops in the world. nights of dancing and courting always ended at the chippy.
the area was a haven for local talent of the good looking male variety, not the high falutin' artistic variety. boyfriends came and went faster than you could put on another coat of mascara or apply a fresh layer of frosted pink lip gloss.
we packed an awful lot of living into the two years we were training to be secretaries and we formed an enduring bond to each other which is as strong today as it was then.
life and times put distance between us as will happen. but we maintained some contact over the years and would see each other occasionally. then as we got older and the families grew, we came back together more often and would take up where we left off, always as if no time had elapsed in between.
some of us got married and had kids. some of us got divorced, some got married again. some stayed single.
we stayed friends.
in the days before the internet there were letters. nowadays there are emails and these come every day keeping us up to date and in touch, even though we are in 3 different countries.
every year we meet up with each other.
sometimes, like last year, we all make it to the same place at the same time.
sometimes only some of us can make it.
once we met up in canada and then flew to new york and one of us flew in from saudi arabia to surprise the rest of us there.
that was a memorable event.
the year we all turned 50.
we knew all of the words to the songs of the 60's and 70's and we belted them out all over that city and back to canada.
we laughed so hard, at ourselves and at each other.
but one of us didn't make it to New York. she had had a stroke and we hadn't known she'd almost died.
she lost a lot of her independence and mobility but she didn't lose us and she didn't lose herself.
she claws her way back from disability to ability and we are there on the journey with her.
she is the one who called us f.o.t.h.s.
last year she gave each of us a silver heart and a pair of earrings.
she said it's to remind us that we are the
"Friends of the Heart Sisterhood."
It's a good group to belong to.