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Commentary: Friends Forever — appreciate it while it lasts

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Jean Simmons, columnist

Jean Simmons is a Franklin resident, nurse and published author who won a Janice Keck Literary Award from the Williamson County Public Library in 2014. She can be contacted at

There are some people you meet and feel like you have been friends all your life. You almost hear a click go off in your brain.  

When that happens, cherish it — it doesn’t come around that often.  

It has happened a few times in my life with people who became close friends and one who even became my husband.  

Meeting my friend, Pia, 20 years ago was one of those times. We talked, laughed and confided in each other from the beginning, and I knew this was a friendship that would last. Pia was a loving wife, mother, sister, successful business owner and my friend. She seemed to make everything more fun — I think that was a special gift of hers. 

The strongest memories spent together are our times at the lake. Pia loved the water. She grew up going out on the lake with her family and friends. We spent many times on the boat waterskiing, wakeboarding or just cruising on the water. I remember watching her teach several of the kids how to waterski, including my son. She would wait in the water positioning the children while patiently teaching them how to get up on their skis. We often took the kids out on a float we called “Big Mabel,” and even took spins on the big float ourselves, after a few times flying off it, we decided it was a venture best left to the young.  

There are other warm memories of trips on jet skis exploring special spots on the lake or just swimming and floating on the water. In the evenings, there were cookouts by the lake where everyone was welcome to join, then we hung out chatting and simply enjoying the slower pace of life. 

I am learning to appreciate moments like this, because before you know it, they are gone.  

Pia would give me tips on cooking and entertaining — she was wonderful at both. Sometimes, I just watched how effortlessly she organized events and tried to soak it in. We joked that she knew everyone in Nashville because she was so friendly, something I confess I was envious of. She even tried to help me dress better in her own charming way taking me to dress shops for a fun outing. I am a hopeless dresser since I hate shopping. It didn’t stick, but bless her heart for trying. 

But my favorite times were late afternoons after all the water activities were done. We would sit by the lake with a glass of wine talking about family, friends and life in general while watching the sunset.    

When my friend was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor a year ago, it was a shock. At first, it seemed that it would be a slow progression, she would have years left and an almost normal quality of life. That changed within a few months as the cancer became very progressive, then a short time later, she was gone. Seeing all of her family and friends flocked around her these last few months showed what a special person she was, how many lives she had touched.  

After her memorial ceremony, I have decided to make a special trip to the lake. I will sit by the water with a glass of wine and watch the sun go down. Then, I will make one final toast to my friend. 

Jean Simmons is a Nashville native, Franklin resident, former nurse and columnist for the Herald. She can be reached at jean_simmons

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