They lived just down the road in a tidy, little bungalow painted a soft blue-gray with creamy-white trim. The modest dwelling had an aura of happiness and serenity.  I would see them on warm days puttering together in a garden filled with a riot of bright blossoms complemented by eclectic yard art and musical wind chimes created in the tiny shop set just back of the house from bits and pieces discarded by others.  My mother purchased a whimsical, mosaic ball constructed of shards of tinted glass one autumn from under the multi-colored canopy shading the spot they occupied every Saturday in the local Farmer’s Market – along with a jar of the best huckleberry jam I ever tasted.  I would run into them sometimes in the grocery aisles or notice them gaily singing at Sunday morning’s service.  Their presence was ever accompanied by carefree sounds . . . laughing, whistling, singing, happy chattering.  Always they were together.

It would have been easy to dismiss them as a trio of “crazy, old, cat ladies” sans the multitude of critters. In all honesty, there may have been a cat or two around though nothing defining.  What was most noteworthy were their eyes. All three had sparkling, amazingly youthful eyes of distinctly different colors.  Over time, I came to associate other particulars with each as well.  Boots had eyes of uncommon green and straight, blondish hair with a smattering of silver.  I can’t recall any time I saw her without her signature boots. She wore them everywhere and with everything.  Gypsy’s eyes were brown and soft and inviting.  Need I explain why I tagged her Gypsy?  She would forever put me in mind of the stereotype associated with those nomadic, romantic peoples.  She was not a caricature, but from her flowing skirts to her golden earrings and dark, wavy hair, she had that same flavor. Curly most certainly had once been the quintessential beach girl.  Her eyes the color of a summer sky were underscored with a sprinkling of freckles across the bridge of her nose and framed by the platinum grey curls that could not be contained by clips used in the vain attempt to control the rebellious mop.  They were the embodiment of Bohemian regardless their advancing age.

I often wondered how they came to be the inseparable troupe they were.  It was unlikely they were sisters, though their closeness that often seen in twins.  They even finished one another’s sentences. They shared everything.  It was not unusual for Boots to retrieve the reading glasses from atop her head handing them over to Curly to examine the print on a box or in a hymn book.  Curly, in turn, frequently pulled one accessory or another from her own hair to gather Gypsy’s locks keeping them from interfering with whatever undertaking Gypsy was absorbed with.  Should Boots shiver with cold, straight away one of Gypsy’s scarves would materialize to cloak her.  I don’t believe words were necessary between them.  They were synced on a level sometimes developed by couples married a lifetime.

One winter day I was watching Boots and Gypsy from the street as I meandered past their cottage on my way home from school.  They sat at a desk in the window engrossed with the computer before them.  I was not surprised to see them tapping away at the keyboard switching on some mystic cue back and forth, pointing, pausing to laugh, only to return to the task they were so obviously enjoying.  I was so captivated by the scene, the sound of the mailbox closing startled me.  I found myself staring into a pair of amused, blue eyes.  Embarrassed to have been caught so blatantly peering into the home of another, all I could do was stammer and become intensely interested in the toes of my scruffy tennis shoes.  The resonance of Curly’s supple chuckle brought my eyes back to hers.  What was there to do, but shrug and smile?  The gentle touch of her hand on my arm, as if by some strange conjuring, released me from my anxiety and shame.

“I’m sorry to be a Peeping Tom, ma’am.  It’s just that you and the other ladies . . . well, it’s just that . . . you can’t be sisters.  Why aren’t you with your families,” the words had slipped from my lips before I could filter such an inappropriate inquiry from being born and trailed away with an awkward, “or something?”

Curly then gave me in her sweet, quiet voice words I would learn the truth of throughout the years of my own life. “Well, I suppose, it might seem odd to a girl as young as yourself, my dear, but in your future there will be both cheer and tragedy, glad times and heart breaks.  It’s sad to say, but men will likely come and go.  Your parents will not always be around.  Should you have children, you will raise them and they will leave you to lead lives of their own as will your siblings.  But if you are truly blessed as I have been, you will have those sisters of your soul that will be there with you through it all. They will laugh with you in your joy.  They will support you in your trials. They will encourage you to pursue your dreams. They will cry with you your tears of sorrow. They will be proud of your achievements. They will ground you when you drift from what is reasonable. They will find you should you lose your way. They will hold your confidences and keep your secrets.  They will offer the hand that helps you up when you have fallen.  They will come to know you and you them in ways no one else ever can.  So, at the end of the day, you are never alone.  We three have each other now that the loved ones in our separate lives have passed or moved on.  We are simply doing what we have always done . . . be there for one another when there is no one else.  We are friends!”