The days of mid-June were some of the happiest when we were kids in the ’60s.

The thrill of getting off the bus for the last time to head into summer vacation was sweet.

The weather was becoming balmy, the sun was high. We were tired and ready for a long reprieve.

Sometimes now, at the end of a long work week, I’m reminded of that feeling of riding the school bus home, anticipating seeing my mother’s face as we entered the kitchen, a plate of fresh-baked molasses or chocolate chip cookies on the table.

We were anxious to learn anything new that she had to report to us, any plans that were laid, whether company was coming.

Ah, company. Summer promised a lot of that.

My friend Fiona often would come to visit for a few weeks from wherever her family was living; her father was a college professor and they moved a lot.

Fiona’s mother was Scottish, her father English, and she maintained an accent that was part those and part American. She was smart and funny and adventurous, always game for whatever we concocted for activities.

I met Fiona while in the eighth grade.

In English class, we chatted and giggled so much our teacher, Mr. Glenn, separated us, though he really got a kick out of us both.

We had a lot in common, Fiona and I. We loved books and writing. We’d have long and serious discussions about what was happening in the world and what was wrong with it. We looked at every situation backwards and forwards. We loved riding my horse and spending time with characters. We laughed long and hard about everything under the sun.

As Fiona’s parents dropped her off for visits and picked her up, her family got to know ours and we became lifelong friends. Her father died many years ago, but her mother, Margaret, and my parents, were fast friends and visited each other at her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and she visited my folks in Skowhegan. My parents also visited Fiona’s sister in Toronto. It was a bond that afforded us the luxury of dropping in, unannounced, at each other’s homes, summer or winter, and being welcomed with open arms.

My parents have been gone a few years now. Fiona’s mother, sadly, passed away April 14 this year.

As you read this, I will be traveling back to Waterville from Halifax, where I will have attended her memorial service on Sunday.

As I write this on Wednesday, I am anticipating seeing Fiona and her family, who will all be there. I have not seen them in many years. They will have gathered in Halifax from around Canada and the U.S., and for the first time in a long, long time, we will be together again.

They are a bright, intelligent and vibrant family, and Margaret was the epicenter of their lives. When someone was hurt or sick, she was the mother bear who nursed the person back to health. When there was a death, she was the pillar of strength that kept it all together.

Margaret was worldly. She read and traveled a lot and was a great conversationalist who could talk with authority on most any subject. She was fun and ready for anything, just like her children, Fiona, Mary, Eila and John.

Our reunion Sunday will represent the end of an era for our families, as we remember Margaret, raise a toast, and say our farewells.

It will be a bittersweet day, being together again and sharing memories of Margaret and our families’ long-lasting friendship.

Though we may be scattered around the globe and have not seen each other in years, I know that, after the first hugs, it will be as if it were only yesterday.

That’s the way it is when love is the tie that binds.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 30 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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