Monday, August 1, 2016

FRIENDSHIP DEFINED!

People use the term, 'friend' loosely, when actually they are referring to an acquaintance. In your lifetime', if you're blessed with three or four 'friends' you are lucky. Aside from my hubby, our immediate family and relatives, I have had five 'friends' in my 71 years on this earth. I consider myself very lucky!

Before I tell you about them, let me be so bold as to define the term. A friend is someone you've seemingly known forever, have shared the best of times and the worst, have accepted you for who and what you are and still love you, might not contact you for long periods of time, and yet when connected, pick up the conversation like you'd just spoken yesterday, and will be there for you at the drop of a hat. I think I've covered everything, but if not, feel free to add anything I've missed.

Two of my very best friends have passed. I loved them dearly in life, think of them almost everyday, and miss them very much. Just the thought of them puts a smile on my lips and a skip in my step. When I look up at the sky, especially on a sunny day, I 'see' their spirits floating along and realize how free they are from the stress and pain associated with life itself.

I hadn't spoken to another of my friends for many years. It wasn't because we didn't have anything in common anymore, but rather that we both had growing families that required our undivided attention. Babies were born, communions celebrated, weddings planned for, a career pursued, the everyday hustle and bustle, caring for the elders in the family, burying loved ones, etc. Yet one day about two years ago, I called wanting to know if she had some high school photos I might use in a new book I was writing. We met for lunch one September day, and have been spending time at Applebee's every six weeks or so since that first time. We always ask for a back table, letting the waitress know that we plan to 'dine' for at least three hours! We never run out of things to talk about, and promise to meet up again soon.

My fourth friend is the newest of the five, but loved just as much. I hadn't talked with her in quite a while, and when I finally called to make a lunch date, her number was no longer in service. I thought that was odd, googled her and found she'd moved to North Carolina. Got her address and phone number and dialed immediately. When I couldn't connect with her, I left a message and knew she'd get back to me when she could.  AND SHE DID.  because that's what true friends do!

My last friend and I have known each other for 20 years. We worked together running a preschool and daycare. There were many,many times when we agreed on a plan of action, there were a number of times that we didn't. No matter what, we never allowed our differences to interfere with our friendship. Our families got to know one another, and soon formed caring bonds. Her children call me 'Mama Flo' and her grandsons call me, 'Gramma'  honors I hold close to my heart. Although we only talk about two or three times a year, we are always delighted at the sound of each other's voice and are ready and willing if one is in need. A week ago I FB her with a special request. My nine-year-old grandson, Kaden, was coming to Pittsburgh and was hoping to get an autograph from some of the Steelers at their training camp. My friend happens to know Coach Tomlin personally and secured a VIP pass for Kaden so he could be on the field, get autographs from his favorite players, and even enjoy dinner in the Steelers cafeteria at the end of practice. Her daughter, her grandsons, and her niece kept their eyes on Kaden the entire time, nudging him along to approach players he was too shy to address. The next day we attended my friend's mother's 90th birthday celebration and was glad to be among her extended family to wish Ms. Cindy many, many more years of good health and happiness.

Now do you understand the meaning of the term, 'friend'? Use it sparingly and with great care. There will only be a handful of them in your life if you're lucky. If you're very lucky like me, you'll be blessed with FIVE!