Friday, November 14, 2014

“I am so glad you are my friend.”

Recently a friend said to me, sincerely and quietly, “I am so glad you are my friend.”
I was moved almost to tears by this simple sentence. She and I have been friends for a number of  years, more so since my husband died. She has other friends, old friends, from many years ago. She has certain friends she spends time with each week. I am not in that circle and it doesn’t matter. I have friends that don’t include her.
How many times have you stopped and counted the people you can really call friends, not acquaintances? Are they  good friends, best friends, or occasional friends?

In my life I have had only a few best friends. When I was a young teen, my best friend was Joyce. We rode horses together and told each other our deepest secrets. A couple of years older than I, she graduated high school and entered college before I did. But we always tried to stay in touch. She and her husband, her high school sweetheart, were our first visitors in our furnished apartment right after Barry and I married. What a surprise to find that she and Barry had known each other at the university. Like many women in the sixties, Joyce dropped out of college and got married. We  never would have imagined that mistake would haunt her to death.
Joyce and Barry going to a  Georgia-Florida football game. I miss both of them.

One reason I had few close friends when I was growing up is I had a built-in friend, my sister, Gay. While we both had occasional friends, neighbors, girls we met at school, I reflect now and realize that my two friends in high school drifted away after their marriages, where I served as bridesmaid. Neither of them pursued higher education. One was eventually divorced, but the other raised a family in her husband’s home town in Wisconsin. We visited them once, and she was still the funny adorable girl I had known at sixteen, faithful to her Catholic upbringing.

In college, a girl’s school in Georgia, I met some classmates I enjoyed. We had great times laughing and talking  late into the night, trading our stories. I was awed by one girl, Peggy, the sophisticate from Washington, D..C. Dark-eyes heavily lined and mascaraed, she was crowned with a  head of jet black hair. She was independent and courageous. I had grown up with a strict father and seldom broke any rules except when I was out with Joyce who sneaked cigarettes from her family’s store and impressed me with her ability to smoke and drink when she was still in high school. 

Peggy was similar but took even more risks. She could have been sent home for slipping out of the dorm after hours to meet her boyfriend and then slipping back in after curfew. She couldn’t have done that without my help, of course, and in return she let me be her friend. I was used, but it had its rewards. Through Peggy, I met Richard, the first real love of my life. I felt extremely grateful to travel in the same circles with Peggy, who was respected all over campus. She had street smarts, but she was super intelligent and earned top grades. Her goal was to become a doctor. I heard that she reached that goal.

When I left the girls’ school to attend the university, I lost touch with Peggy and all the girls I had known and liked for the past two years. Several moved on to other schools to complete their education. Some went home to get married. I entered a school where I knew no one but my younger sister. We lived in different dorms and she made friends right away. I did not weather the change too well and wished many times that I had stayed where I was to finish my education.

Coming from a large family that enjoyed each other, much of my social life involved my siblings. My sisters-in-law often turned to me as a friend and I loved them, warts and all, but was burned when my brothers cheated or divorced their partners. How could I make a choice between a friend and a loved brother? I hated the sin, but loved the sinner.

I like the metaphor that life is a sailboat and at times the winds come up strong. We have to navigate them carefully, even changing our course sometimes. Friendship is a large part of a healthy life. Having social ties has been proven to lengthen our days on this earth. But I also believe people come into our lives and go out of our lives when they are supposed to do so. For that reason, I have no desire to seek out old classmates on Facebook.

I am so very fortunate to have my sister who will always be a huge part of my life, and a small number of good friends in my life now that I know will never turn on me or hurt me. I am glad they are my friends. 


DJan said...

My sister is also my best friend, too. We talk on video chat a couple times a month, but I feel her connected to me even though we live far apart. And now I've got lots of virtual friends, some of whom are very precious to me, through blogging. I also have one very good friend here in Bellingham, and many acquaintances too. Thanks for reminding me to be grateful for them! :-)

abbiescorner said...

I know what you mean about hating the sin of cheating on one's wife and loving the sinner. I had the same problem with my brother who cheated on his first wife. Now, he's married again, and I'd like to think he has learned from past mistakes. I hope I'm right.

Joan Ellen Gage said...

There are few things as wonderful as the camaraderie of women. No one knows you like one of your kind.

I enjoyed your stories!


Glenda Beall said...

Hi Joan,
thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.
Friends are special, and we should cherish them.