by Lorna Foreman
One of the pleasures I derive from writing this column is remembering stories from my own life. Occasionally, they are what prompt the topics I choose, but many times it is the other way around, so there is usually a personal story in each of my columns.
Friendship is extremely important to most of us. We don’t always keep the same friends from childhood, but create new bonds as we enter different stages of our lives. If we are fortunate and do keep contact with some of the early friends, it is especially rewarding, for they provide history in this crazy, speedy world where everything has to be new and exciting. I feel fortunate that I remained in touch with two people I met when I was six years old. One of those people ended up being my husband when I turned 50. So you just never know, do you?
A friend of mine has just published her second book, Reconnecting, by Katalin Kennedy, (Baico Publishing, Ottawa). It is a beautifully-written story about friendship that explores reconnecting with friends later in life and discovering they had not counted on the entanglements their reconnection would entail. But it is these very entanglements that add the richness to friendship — and our lives.
Friends can Change over the Years
I learned an interesting and valuable lesson about what friendship is all about over 30 years ago.As an only child, I was used to dealing with a lot of things on my own. My father instilled self-sufficiency into me which is great, although I must admit it can be isolating. On this particular weekend, I developed an abscessed tooth. Fortunately, this was in Toronto and while no dentist was available, there was an emergency dental clinic. The trouble was, I had no car, half of my face was terribly swollen, and I was in pain. It was too far for me to take a taxi as I had not had the energy to go to the bank a couple of days before. I also did not feel up to sitting on a subway feeling as I did. Oh, what to do? I felt so terrible that it was almost easier to do nothing. But as luck would have it, a friend happened to call. I told her my tale of woe and she volunteered to drive me, wait for me, drive me to the pharmacist to get my antibiotics, drive me home, and make me something healthy to sip.
When we got home and I was all settled comfortably with my cup of broth, she gave me hell — why hadn’t I called her? Didn’t I realize that as my friend it was an insult not to be asked? I would do it for her, right? She was hurt. That made me stop to reflect on the meaning of friendship.Yes,I would have done the same for her.
It was a small incident, but definitely an important milestone in my so- called independent approach to life.
A couple of years ago when I could not do anything personally to help my friend as I was too far away, I organized someone closer to take them to the hospital. Turned out he had had a stroke and was in denial. I look after friend’s cats when they are away. When I discovered I needed help after having my hips replaced, I did not hesitate to call on friends. That was a major step for me.
Unfortunately, social media has given us a distorted view of friendship. I heard a story (don’t know if it’s true, but it is both sad and funny) about a woman who had hundreds of friends on Facebook. She thought it would be fun to organize a get-together to meet them. She sent out invitations and guess what? Nobody showed up. Did she really believe they were her friends?
If you can count the number of true friends on one hand, you are indeed a fortunate person. You may have a group of close acquaintances, but close friends? Probably only a small number.
With friendship lives become entangled in a deep way; a connection that survives distance, problems, and different life directions.
Friends can change over the years.The world is fast-moving and not every one of our friends change along the same path. If we are lucky, we are still able to connect with friends from the past. It is a joy to visit a friend who you haven’t seen in a long time and find there is still a strong bond. It is as though distance and time does not make a difference.
My family consists of my friends and I cherish them. Just remember though, friendship works both ways.
Lorna Foreman is a self-described 50-plus writer, author and artist who lives in Cornwall.