Why do moms need friends? Rachel Flake and her five friends taught us why

Barbara Lightsey, Beverly Locklin, Carol Kolsti, Rachel Flake, Martha Burns and Suellen Mills reunite at Brookdale Westlake Hills on July 31, 2015. The 6 women have been friends since 1966, and kept up with each other through raising children, working for nonprofits, being ministers, and helping each other through cancer and life’s difficulties. Rachel Flake died on Sunday.
Shelby Tauber / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

In July 2015, I got treated to lunch with the Steel Bluebonnets. This group of six friends had been friends for 50 years. Their friendships outlasted careers, some marriages and some of the gifts they made for each other.

On Sunday, one of their members, Rachel Flake, died from lung cancer, having never smoked a cigarette. ” It was a shock for the other five of us and we have dreaded the phone call that we received this morning from her daughter,” fellow Steel Bluebonnet Barbara Lightsey wrote in an email to me.

Flake was the one who originally contacted me to help me bring their story to the paper. She was very proud of their story, their long-lasting friendships. They shared pregnancies together, and children’s weddings. They celebrated birthdays with a limo that got lost along the way and at an undisclosed location that turned out to be Chuck-E-Cheese.

In fact, Lightest wrote that Flake shared the story in “every hospital room, the wall in a rehab center, and on the wall in her bedroom was taped the entire newspaper spread of your article.  She showed it to anyone who didn’t already know about us.  It gave her such pleasure.”

And it gave me such pleasure to be able to meet these ladies and honor their friendship.

Lightest wrote: “The Bluebonnets were able to get together with her two weeks ago.  She was so weak, but she smiled and knew it would be our last time altogether.”

Rachel credited the group for helping her through divorce and for keeping her going after she had back surgery in 1995 and was in a coma.

As she started to recover, all she wanted to do was go down to a beach house in Port Aransas. “After the surgery, this group took me down there and drove me in a car down to the beach,” Flake told me.

She also said of this group and their annual Christmas parties: “It’s all very exclusive.”

Here’s to Rachel Flake and her Steel Bluebonnets, for reminding younger moms the importance of having lifelong friends.

 


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