Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ...
Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain

Saturday, April 6, 2019

F - Friendship

#AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

F is for Friendship

"It's easy to be friends when
everyone's 18.  It gets
harder the older you get,
as you make different
life choices."
Zadie Smith

If that quote is true, then friendship that lasts 60+ years or more must be very very rare, indeed.

Friendships are important at any age.  My 1 year old grand daughter has a friend in her day care.  But for seniors, friendships are as about as important as air is to all living beings.

Having been at my mom's side during the last decade of her life, I had a chance to see the circle of her friendships.  Mom made friends easily.  She was a friendly, cheerful, compassionate woman.  It was easy to be friends with my mom.

But as she reached her late 70s, changes occurred.  She was still the same friendly happy person, but some friends move away, death claimed others, health issues became barriers, and some just slipped through the cracks of life.  Changes to the social circle happen in later years and they are similar across the elderly population.

What I do know is that without careful nurturing, social networks dramatically shrink in the elderly.  
Almost universally, if a senior lives long enough, they outlive some, if not all, of their peers.  It is hard to develop new friendships at that point in life.

I kind of think luck or maybe just good karma plays a role in sustained friendships for seniors!

But here was one exception in my mom's circle that I have been honored to witness and am eager to share!

Mom had one 'tried and true' dear friend.  Mrs. R was a friend mom made in 1954 - a neighbor in our apartment development.  Through all the years they remained close friends.  Phone calls, visits, keeping in touch ... even right up to my mom's last days in the Nursing Home. Yes, there were many obstacles.  They both had health issues, both became widows, Mrs. R. moved back to her home state of New York.  Mom also had the problem of a troubled marriage being married to an alcoholic.  But those things did not seem to matter to mom and Mrs. R.  They maintained a close friendship.  Even when mom was in the depths of her dementia - and recognized few people - Mrs. R made a visit to the Nursing Home to see mom (from NY) and continued to keep in contact with me to find out how she was doing.  At mom's death, despite the fact her own health failing, Mrs. R. made sure she was represented at the funeral by other family members.

She reached out to me on occasion over the last 4 years.  She just never forgot my mom.

How often does that happen in life?  Friendships that spill over the divide of generations.

Last fall Mrs. R. invited my sister and I to her home in Long Island.  In the last year, my mom became at Great Grand Mother - twice.  Mrs. R. was excited to hear about mom's expanding family - 4 years after mom's death - she was interested and happy about these babies.  So, yes ... my sister and I hopped on a train and spent the weekend visiting this dear friend who more than earned the title of 'Best Friend Ever!!'  In the photo above we were sharing an photo album we brought as gift for her filled with pictures of mom's Great Grand babies!

For myself, I am blessed to have two friends of very long duration.   (Picture below: Left to right.  R, L and me.)  We all met at that same apartment in 1954.  As children we played together.  But life did take us in different directions.  Over the years we would bump into each other. Most people don't typically have these long term relationships.

The picture below was taken at my mom's grave site on the day she was buried.  These childhood friends both came to her funeral.  And the most amazing fact of all was that my mother had been friends with their mothers for a life time.

Friendships are important to all people because humans are social beings. 
But friendships for aging adults are a reward you give yourself for living a long life!
I am reaping that reward!


Sonia Chatterjee said...

As an introvert, I have three closest friends. Two of them are friends for two decades now and the other one a little more than a decade. One happens to be my husband now and the other two live in different corners of the world. But they are my world. I loved reading your post.

Arlee Bird said...

I moved a lot throughout childhood and over my adult life. Keeping up with old friends can be difficult. Several have died and some just drifted away because we apparently lost interest in one another. I do have a handful of friends who I've keep up with for 50 or more years. On occasion we might talk on the phone, but most of these I no longer see because we live so far apart. Still, I think of old friends often.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Barb said...

I have no " old friends" as such also due to a moving all over the place lifestyle. I've been fortunate to be part of a church that is supportive and helped me make friends as well as two other groups and having close family nearby.

John Holton said...

My mother had one really good friend. They had been friends since they were ten and living next door to each other. Her son was a friend of mine, too, so we all knew each other. Peggy's husband was a pallbearer for both of Mom's husbands, and someone said to him "Isn't that strange?" He said, "No, that's friendship." When Mom died, Peggy would call me from time to time and we'd just talk. I could tell she missed Mom...

Marie Smith said...

Love that time with a friend, a coffee and a chat. Nothing better! Beautifully expressed!

Michelle said...

As a child, I gravitated more to the elderly than to other children. Most of my close friends are a decade older than I am. But now that I've passed the halfway mark of my life, I also have younger friends – good thing, if I want to continue to have friends!

Lynn Proctor said...

Old friends are the best-- my dad who is almost 95 lost his best friend since childhood just a few years ago- they remained close until the end- wonderful post

happyone said...

Yes, friends are very important. I am blessed to have quite a few friends from LONG ago. :)
We've have made many friends since we moved up here too. Our church family is such a blessing too.

Helen said...

My aunt made a comment that has stayed with me and that was the fact she deliberately cultivated new, younger friends as she got older as she could see that life was going to take the ones she had made early on. When she was ailing in her last days, many of those friends, young, old, new came to see her. I've moved a lot in my adult life, but I've managed to keep one friend from hs through it all. And of course new friends where I've been.

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

My folks had many friends their entire lives, all born and raised in the same small town. With family and friends living so far apart these days, it is more difficult to retain close ties with friends. As we age, it is best to spark new relationships with several age groups to avoid becoming the "last man/woman standing". Class reunions highlight this problem.
F is for: Funeral Linen Weaving
G is for: Great Honors Bestowed by Ludwig

Archana said...

Wow! Such a beautiful friendship that truly lasted the test of time! As you rightly said, it needs nurturing... As it happens, I too have a Friends post for F! :-)

Little Wandering Wren said...

I am very blessed that I have friends all over the world and because of this I always try to make a special effort when in the area - which might be years apart. But in some respects, it is easier than friends who you see all the time because there is a time limit on catching up and so we do. I'm also a great believer in the Christmas card catch up. Mrs R is a treasure, how lovely that you could catch up.
Wren x