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Contributed by Cheryl Meynig

   Young and newly married, I relaxed under a pecan tree on a hot Texas summer day, drinking iced tea and getting to know my new sister-in-law. Not much older than I, but already a mother of three, she seemed to me experienced and wise.

   "Get yourself some girlfriends" she advised, clicking the ice cubes in her glass. "You are going to need girlfriends. Go places and do things with them".

   What a funny piece of advise, I thought. Hadn't I just gotten married? Hadn't I just joined the couple-world? I was a married woman, for Goodness sake, not a young girl who needed girlfriends. But I listened to this sister-in-law. I got myself some girlfriends. As the years tumbled by, one after the other, gradually I came to understand that Estelle knew what she was talking about. I remembered that she had said the word "girlfriends" with emphasis.

   As I went along, I discovered the subtle difference between friends and girlfriends. You go to work with friends, go to dinner with friends, go to church with friends, belong to clubs with friends. You send greeting cards to friends. You need friends in your life; all girlfriends were once only friends. But a girlfriend is different. I offer this praise of girlfriends:

   Girlfriends don't compete.

   Girlfriends bring casseroles and scrub your bathroom when you are sick.

   Girlfriends keep your children and your secrets   Girlfriends give advice when you ask for it.

   Sometimes you take it, sometimes you don't.

   Girlfriends don't always tell you they you are right, but they are always honest.

   Girlfriends still love you, even when they don't agree with your choices.

   Girlfriends might send you a birthday card, but they might not. It doesn't matter in the least.

   Girlfriends laugh with you and don't need canned jokes to start the laughter.

   Girlfriends don't talk behind your back.

   Girlfriends pull you out of jams.

   Girlfriends don't keep a calendar that lets them know who hosted the other last.

   Girlfriends give a party for your son or daughter when they get married or have a baby, in whichever order that comes.

   Girlfriends are there for you, in an instant and truly, when the hard times come.

   Girlfriends listen when you loose a job or a husband.

   Girlfriends listen when your children break your heart.

   Girlfriends listen when your parents minds and bodies fail.

   My girlfriends bless my life. Once we were young, with no idea of the incredible joys and sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other. I want to tell younger women to take my sister-in-laws advise. Get yourself some girlfriends because you are going to need them.

   When life hands you lemons- ask for a bottle of Tequila and salt and invite your girlfriends over!