For more than forty years, the mantra of the eight women in the Bridge Club has been “one for all and all for one.” Beginning their monthly soiree in the psychedelic Sixties, unpredicted twists of fate weave through the good times and strong friendship they share as the years pass. The constant from one decade to the next is loyal and nonjudgmental support, even when agreeing to disagree is the final solution. From the exhilarating cultural changes of their early times together through the “zoomer” years, their connection never falters.
As they celebrate turning sixty (give or take a year) at a group birthday weekend, each woman recalls a challenging time in her life when the Bridge Club came to the rescue. After tossing around ideas mixed with a generous helping of common sense and a large dose of laughter they decide to refer to that time as their “SOS”. Eight chapters document each one’s story.
Everything is put into perspective and the strength of their friendship is truly tested when one of these women faces a life-altering decision. Her choice profoundly affects all members of the group, pushing the limits of their beliefs and values. The unique alliance they share is confronted with a crisis none of them might have imagined.
Silent night, holy night. All is calm, all is bright. It wasn’t Christmas and it’s not about religion, but whenever I think of that night, those words filter into my head. Kind of bizarre, I know, but that’s how thoughts are sometimes. The winter storm that consumed the weekend had finally moved on. As often happens, the unpredicted disturbance came at us out of nowhere, much like the shocking news months earlier that bound us together for these two days. Winds had raged sporadically. Snowfall had fluctuated from light to blinding, including everything in between, but there was never nothing. Left in the storm’s wake were drift-filled roads, the work of savage gusts whipping the snow across the flat, vacant fields of Simcoe and Grey counties. The white barrage had swirled and funneled as it was sculpted into uneven peaks, trapped between the fencing that bordered the road. Trapped, as between the proverbial rock and a hard place, which was how you might have described this group of friends, but you would have been mistaken. We had chosen to be there. Dangerous whiteout conditions brought traffic to a halt as roads had been closed around midnight on Friday. Through sheer luck we had left early enough to miss the worst of it. Trust me, you don’t want to be out there when you can’t tell which way is up. On Sunday evening it was suddenly peaceful. Quiet. Still. A silent calm filled the post-storm air and cast a surreal shroud over the landscape. The pristine snow reflected the moon’s soft glow, making the night appear more like dawn. Had we not been so distracted, we would have appreciated the beauty of it all. Too numbed by what we had experienced on this weekend to even notice the cold, we stood on the crest of the hill by the farmhouse and watched. In the distance, a fluorescent blue beam revolved on the cab of a snowplow. Piercing the dark, the probing rays brushed across the mounds being carved along the narrow side road. Blinking red and yellow lights lined the truck warning of its massive size. Following in tandem was a bulky SUV with amber hazard signals flashing. Last, and somewhat diminished by comparison, were the headlights on the unmistakable silhouette of a funeral-home hearse. The pulsating throb of the combined lights created a slow-motion kaleidoscope silently sliding toward us. We waited. That’s how this story ends. Let me tell you how it all began.
Patricia Sands embraces the chaos of life in Toronto, Canada, with a blended family of seven adult children and six grandchildren. The bond of her own bridge club continues.