I Originally Posted this August 10, 2023 on Social Media on the evening I found my friend Brigid Died • By Lesa Quale Ferguson
Today, I found out that one of my very best friends from forever passed away. By happenstance, I am outside of Boston. The last time I was here it was to visit her and her mom where she moved for a few years after we graduated. I wrote the following the last time I was with her in Ashland. It pretty sums up how gobsmacked I was by her. We were both born on the shores of Lake Erie only to have our adventurous, independent, single mothers move us to Ashland, Or at the same age. Every summer we waved across Lake Erie – her on the Detroit side, me on the Buffalo side when we were with our extended family. Her life became very challenging with the loss of her father and brother. Rest in Peace, Dear Briggy.
The first time I met Brigid Dunn Dalton was in 5th grade during tryouts for the “Steadfast Tin Soldier” at the Ashland Children’s Theater, then in the Lincoln elementary school gym. One of the smaller parts was for Raggedy Ann. No question the part would be hers.
For Brig, this forgone conclusion stoked her red-headed ire. She would not be a stereotyped.
She gripped a long Charleston chew in her small freckled fist and took us to task – all of us – the other kids, the director, our parents, the principal of Lincoln for our fundamental lack of imagination. She reasoned she could just as easily be the lead – Lovely Lysa the Crisp Paper Lady – as anyone. SHE certainly danced better way better than me who got the part.
She turned to me, summed me up with a glance, and dismissed me at once. And even though she was hot, she didn’t take anything too seriously – she continued to munch down that Charleston chew and then offered me a piece and then jumped up on a bench.
Her whole routine was like she was auditioning to be the part she scoffed at. Now not only did she look the part Ragged Ann but she acted it perfectly.
“Wow!” I thought. “Her. That girl. I have to be her friend.”
Mostly, in my life other people determine whether or not we are friends. I just go along with whoever will have me. With Brig at that young age, I knew I had to put my shoulder into it. Afterall, my dancing skills were subpar.
She begrudgingly accepted the part as Raggedy Ann and I ended up with a BFF who was acrobatic and whip smart.
She is fast asleep in the other side of the house. I was supposed to leave Ashland after the reunion, but I screwed up the times. She found me a free place to stay. Whether we jumped fences to swim in a hotel pool or climbed the bandshell or skipped school, she made Ashland feel as if it was our stage to “fret an hour upon.”
When I think of my adolescence, it can appear in my mind like a flip book – scenes and moments flipping by as I thumb through the pages. On most of those pages she cartwheels through them – daring me to keep up.