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Rosie and I met when she was 23. I was five years younger, and a recent transplant to California from my Colorado hometown.

Within moments of meeting Rosie, I instinctively knew what people meant about angels on earth. Not because she was beautiful with her blond curls and eyes the color of the bluest sea; she was lovelier still inside.

They had just brought home from the hospital their new baby daughter. Their other daughter, a precocious 3-year-old, flirted with me the way only 3-year-olds can. Rosie’s hubby, Stan, a fun, happy guy, was a proud daddy and loved his beautiful girls. He had a thing for “cool” cars, and parked in their driveway was a zippy red GTO, pretty snazzy in those days.

A couple of years later, Rosie and I became cousins by marriage, deepening our friendship. And although the marriage that linked us dissolved a couple of years later, we continued to introduce one another as “my cousin.” We remained that close.

So when Rosie was due to celebrate a milestone birthday recently, we concocted a plan. Nothing fancy, just some time to spend together. And since Rosie is a devoted movie fan, the proper thing was to see a movie of her choice followed by a nice dinner.

Turns out we enjoyed that movie so much we just kept right on going. Driving through San Jose rush hour traffic we barely made it to the next theater in time to fall into our seats by the start of the film. That’s when the nice birthday dinner became a dash to the snack bar for hotdogs.

And that’s just one thing I love about Rosie. We can start in one direction, then do a complete turn around before we’re done. And she couldn’t be happier.

There’s something else about Rosie; she comes from one of those rare families that open wide their arms and their hearts for all who enter their lives. When my “starter” marriage to Rosie’s cousin fell apart, rather than exclude me from the family, they embraced me. When I married for the second time and my parents were unable to come, Rosie’s father stood in for my dad and walked me down the aisle while my former mother-in-law filmed the wedding.

And it didn’t stop with me. We’ve added a second ex-wife and a long-time ex-girlfriend to the party. Yep; the family kept us all. We explode with laughter at weddings when all of us “ex’s” and our current spouses are seated together and someone asks, “So, how are YOU all related to the bride (or groom)?”

A lot has changed in the many decades since that summer afternoon when I first met my Rosie. I, too, bore two baby daughters and delighted in watching Rosie swoop my babies into her arms and cover them with kisses. And Rosie’s hubby Stan, the love of her life, maintained his great good nature and affection for “cool” cars until he left us a few years ago. A heart attack took him way too soon.

These days Rosie’s pretty blond hair has gone gray, and she walks a little slower than she used to. But those eyes, as blue as the California sea, are still remarkably clear and bright, letting one see to the depths of her soul.

So I’m grateful to California because along with many other good and wonderful things, coming here brought me Rosie. We’ve celebrated new life together, and together we’ve grieved when lives have ended. That probably makes Rosie about as close to the “best” as one friend can be.

Maybe it’s better said that we’re like sisters, Rosie and I. Yes, that’s the ticket. Sisters of the heart.

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