Act of kindness leads to long friendship

Penny Petersen and Vida Mae Lori became fast friends by accident.

Penny Petersen

Moving is always a hassle! But when my husband Ron and I bought a house in Sun Lakes a year before we could move in, it was worse. Our jobs were in Show Low, Arizona, at a community college. We decided to move our furniture down gradually, taking a load in our van each time I came down to visit my mother who was in a memory care center. Sounded good.

Then Ron had to stay in Show Low for work multiple times. I came to Sun Lakes with a loaded van, alone. When I got there, I called a local handyman. His wife answered the phone. I explained the situation and she said, “He’s working all day today, but I’m pretty strong. I’ll help if you’d like.” She did. Her name is Vida Mae Lori, and she’s a tiny person with lots of spunk. We unloaded a couch, chairs, boxes and more. We had fun and shared our lives as we worked. We became friends. That was in 1995.

I found out Vida Mae owned a hair salon, so I went there. I was new in town. She did a great job. She worked in a trailer located next to the Native American General Store on Riggs off I-10. That’s where she’d been for 15 years when we met. Shortly after, when the Tribe decided to build a gas station on that site, the trailer, which also held a barber shop, had to go. Vida Mae moved. She opened a new shop on Riggs Road across from SunBird and called it Hair PhD. I followed. Then she moved to the northeast corner of Riggs and McQueen across from Fry’s. I followed. Higher rent caused her to relocate to Alma School and Ocotillo around the corner from Albertsons. I followed.

When I met Vida Mae in 1995, I had just retired. But she just kept on working. Now I’m 81, and she’s going to be 88 in August. She recently decided she was tired of being the boss and keeping books. She closed her shop. But did she retire? No, she just moved closer to home. Now she serves clients at the Dynamic Hair Care Salon at Renaissance. That’s what I call an energizer-bunny.

Our 24-year friendship started by accident. But now, it’s much deeper. She knows the names of my kids, and I know hers. She asks about my twin grandsons, and I ask about her daughter’s business in Prescott. We share ups and downs, joys and sorrows and fun. She gives me advice when asked, and I do the same. It’s been 24 years since the moving fiasco that got us together. We laugh about it still.