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Ann with Monica (another reader/writer/librarian) and I on our last Greencastle rendezvous. The three of us may be separated by miles and age, but we're always close in heart.

My grandmothers didn’t live long enough to become my friends. But life has blessed me with several women whose unconditional support and advanced wisdom have shown me what might have been. Eighty-eight-year-old Ann Poland is one of the surrogates.

We became friends in a book club–a fact that reinforces my life view that the most meaningful relationships are born from a shared love of books. In our case, there is more common ground because we are both writers; Ann is a retired newspaper reporter, while I am a former corporate writer. Add to that our confident commitment to introversion and you have the makings of an excellent bond.  (Yes, introverts have friends! Join the book club especially for introverts here.)

Our friendship was sealed the day I told Ann about a library patron who wanted me to remove a book from the library, objecting to its pregnant teen protagonist.  Ann’s response: “Well, children need to know about such things!”

Despite her advanced age, Ann never seems to lose her edge. She reads, publishes, and shows a reporter’s interest in the world. At a recent lunch with our mutual friend Monica, Ann peppered us with questions about social media and technology, especially as they relate to publishing and libraries. Our lunch was a celebratory send-off for Ann as she sets out on a new life in Black Mountain, North Carolina near one of three sons.

I have bawled several times over her move, apologizing to Ann for the loss of composure. Ann accepts this gracefully. “You should never apologize for your feelings,” she says. Fortunately, I’ll get to see Ann at least once a year when I travel to the Outer Banks for our annual family vacation. But I will miss our regular visits and our biannual rendezvous in Greencastle, Indiana with our friend Monica. On those little rallies, the three of us form a trifecta of reading, writing, and introversion that inspires me for months.

Who are the women of substance in your life? Send your stories and photos to crystal@dressedaysvintage.com

P.S. Ann confirms another personal mantra of mine: all women remember their lives by the clothes they wear. Ann remembers a skirt she wore as a high school senior, made by her sister, an accomplished seamstress. It required three yards of fabric resulting in a sumptuous drape that fell gracefully to the floor as she sat in class. Ann claims only a cursory knowledge of sewing, but in college she made two dresses and a formal during one of her breaks. Her sister approved of the final product, so I gather that Ann knows more about sewing than she lets on.

Two great books on introversion

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney