Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - Oct. 14, 2004

Luck of the draw

My friend Deb and her husband were in Manhattan earlier this month as exhibitors at the Pumpkin Patch craft fair. She "escaped" to spend a few hours with me at the University to photograph buildings, flowers and people for college memory albums she plans to make for herself, her mother and her two daughters - three generations of K-State women.

Deb was my "luck-of-the-draw" roommate my sophomore year of college. Living in a small dorm room, we got to know each other quickly. We saw each other first thing in the morning and last thing at night, times when we were not at our best!

We discovered each others' quirks - and we learned to somehow get along. Deb was a messy artistic type - clothes in piles, paintbrushes everywhere. I was more of a neatnik. She created pencil drawings, paintings and clay pots. I typed stories for journalism classes and the Collegian. We were both night owls who hated my alarm clock when it jangled us awake for early-morning classes.

I was her maid of honor when she and Chuck married in 1975, shortly after our graduation from K-State. She was excited for me when I joined Peace Corps and we wrote often while I was in Ecuador. In one letter I told her about women washing clothes on rocks and she wrote back about people in this country selling rocks as "pets."

Deb also supported my decision to go to Costa Rica in September 1978 after I'd been home only a short time. A few months later, I told her about a man I met there that I was going to marry. She wasn't certain about that since she hadn't had a chance to "check him out."

When Jerome and I came home to get married, Deb couldn't be a bridesmaid because she was pregnant and due close to our wedding day. Stacey was born about a week after we were married. Jerome and I stopped by the hospital to see her and her proud parents before we returned to San José.

Deb and I corresponded until Jerome and I returned to the States in 1980. We lived in Wichita briefly, but I saw Deb only infrequently. She was a busy young mother and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.

Jerome and I moved to Manhattan in January 1981 to pursue further studies at K-State. Deb and I corresponded and called each other now and then. Every time we did, we picked up where we had left off before. She always understood "where I was" emotionally regardless of where I was geographically.

When Jerome died, Deb was one of the people who kept me going. She sent me letters and inspirational quotes almost every day for months. For my daughter Mariya's first Christmas, she sent a box filled with little gifts for both of us - to help fill the lonely days before the holiday. She instinctively knew that all the "firsts" without Jerome were going to be difficult for me and she responded by showing she cared in so many different ways.

When I married Art, she and her family were supportive. She warned Art at the time, though, that he'd better treat me right or he'd have her to contend with!

In the ensuing years we've kept in touch with frequent e-mail messages and phone calls. I've watched her two daughters- a few years older than my two - and wondered what kinds of similar challenges and joys I'll face. I've teased Deb that I'm using her experience to help me raise my own girls.

Both Deb's daughters Stacey and Amy graduated from K-State and now Mariya is a student there.

When Stacey married, I volunteered to help write and design her wedding program. When Mariya's high school graduation was approaching, I gathered a bunch of Mariya's T-shirts and photos of her wearing them and sent them to Deb. I knew that Deb's vision would match my own, and the result was a beautiful memory quilt she stitched with care and love.

Deb and I have been a part of each other's lives - the joys and sorrows, the milestones and the mundane things - for more than 30 years. I'm not usually a gambler, but my "luck-of-the-draw" roommate turned out to be one of my best friends.

Deb Lundstrom and I, left, clowning in front of our dorm room door in Ford Hall. Tee-shirt quilt, right, designed by Deb Lundstrom Wilds and me and made by Deb for Mariya's high school graduation.

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