Whidbey News-Times


Sharing stories creates powerful bond for group | Harbor Highlights

By JOAN BAY KLOPE Whidbey News-Times Columnist
May 3, 2014 · Updated 4:10 PM

I love a good blog and there are hundreds of thousands to chose from. I have carefully organized bookmark folders on my computer arranged by topics of interest to me. Two clicks and before me I’ll find a beautiful quilt design, amazing photography, a meaningful quote, a gardening idea, a political discussion or a new recipe.

It was a story this week, called “The Breakfast Club,” that has captivated my thoughts. It was written by PAT SKUD and shared with a small group of us who sat around a dining room table in a Devries Road home.

Some of us sipped coffee, others tea. We ate carrot cake and frosted banana squares, served on china.

As I gazed into the eyes of this dignified group of women, all who have lived in Oak Harbor a good many years if not all of their lives, I considered the wonders of story-telling. Enduring friendship. Personal connection. And losses made bearable when there is love.

These ladies have met each month for eight years. It began as a Lenten exercise at the First United Methodist Church in Oak Harbor. At that time, they met for six weeks, wrote about their spiritual journeys and shared those experiences with each other.

ANITA DRAGOO was the first hostess.

When the six-week activity ended, they realized their deepening bond with each other.

The group began writing about a host of topics, each month meeting to gaze across the table at beloved friends and share their lives.

Pat Skud writes about the various homes she and her husband lived in, cars they drove and pets they loved.

DJ RANSDELL writes poetry and is proud of the fact that several of her poems have been picked up on poetry websites.

Dragoo seized the idea of writing about her extensive teaching career that spanned the world and eventually authored the book “Not in Kansas Anymore,” available at Wind & Tide Bookshop.

ELIZABETH GALLOWAY writes about mothering two sets of twins and working as a registered nurse beside Oak Harbor physicians in a busy medical clinic before retiring.

CAROLINE WILLIAMS wrote this week about some of the kids in her Oak Harbor High School sophomore class who moved off the island and bid their childhood friends a tearful goodbye when the U.S. government purchased their family farms.

The year was 1942, the world was at war and it was decided that a naval air station must be built on Whidbey Island to enhance the safety of American citizens.

It’s one thing to read facts about World War II and make anonymous, theoretical comments on a blog. It’s quite another to listen to stories read out loud, watch a writer’s expression and reflect about profound life events over a piece of cake.

The Breakfast Club began decades ago when Pat Skud and her husband, BERNIE, first moved to Oak Harbor.

Bernie had enjoyed a prestigious, 40-year career as a marine biologist and together they chose Oak Harbor as their retirement community. A sizable collection of new friends began meeting that first year to celebrate birthdays and club members spent the next 30 years together.

There was so much to be happy about.

When the Breakfast Club meets next time, there will be three remaining members. Pat’s beloved Bernie passed away suddenly April 16.

I’ve learned that when the storyteller is surrounded by connection and caring – real people who offer love and a shared experience with loss -- life is not only bearable but beautiful.

Joan Bay Klope can be reached at harborhighlights@hotmail.com


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