Sally’s Piece for Wednesday Stories 4/19/17
WHAT IS A FRIEND?
A wise woman once told me that throughout your life you could only ever count true friends on the fingers of one hand. Five friends throughout your life? Everyone else, she told me, were only acquaintances, true friends you will only ever have five in your lifetime.
To explore that a bit more my mind thinks back to what expectations of friendship were and what they are now.
As a young school child everybody in the class was your friend. I came from a small village and all the children my age were expected to be friends, all the families knew each other. At age 11 we separated to different schools and were expected to make new friends.
I went to an all girls’ school. Friendships between girls are all in or all out and, as in any school, there are bullies and cliques and oddballs and popular groups. If you didn’t fit in to any of the ‘normal’ categories you may not have been classed as a friend.
You learn as you become older what makes a friend and hopefully you learn what you need to do or be to become a friend to somebody else but then sometimes you come across friend betrayal.
As I mature in years I’ve come across many people in my life, some there is an instant ‘click’ with them and some perhaps take longer to accept and on the odd occasion some give you that frisson of unease which leads to dislike.
Many friends may have the same likes and dislikes as you do in which you can form a bond. Surprisingly sometimes you can form a bond and a friendship with people who have totally different likes or dislikes.
Life moves in cycles and you may move, change careers, have families, life takes you in different directions from your friends, then you have contact after a long absence and just pick up from where you left off. No awkward moments, no judgements, you’ve already put the time in and you know when the proverbial hits the fan they will be there for you.
Now we come to the modern world and how our horizons have shrunk with better and quicker communications, although that sometimes leads to misunderstandings. Social media, emails, Skype, texting, photos on various platforms, the written word sometimes gets lost. As much as it is lovely to stay in touch with family and friends who are distant, geographically as well as in time with work and their own lives and families, it can be quite daunting to stop and think what you should put in an email or a text message or instant message.
We have family in the States and Australia and New Zealand and we can send pictures of our lives, we can stay in contact with them. My octogenarian parents have found Facebook and absolutely love it for staying in touch with expanding family, new babies, etc.
For myself I have found some lovely virtual friendships through social media, we may never meet in person but we can enjoy each other’s company especially when they live thousands of miles away. I can wake up in the morning to a message from someone in Australia or New Zealand and my friends in the States or Jamaica can wake up to a post from me.
Is your husband/wife/partner your best friend?
Is your mother your best friend or your father or your sister(s) or brother(s)?
Can you call your son(s) or daughter(s) your best friend or is that a different kind of relationship?
Is there scale of 1 – 10 in friendships?
Who is your number one friend?
Who can you call when you are trouble?
Is it family?
Is it a friend?
Who will drop everything to be by your side when you need them?
Who avoids you when you are going through tough times?
As social standards and morals change, attitudes and behaviours alter and adapt we find we accept different types of friendships.
In 2017 times have changed, sexual discrimination is better than it used to be, race and ethnicity are blending, different religious beliefs are becoming less inflammatory, even non-religious beliefs are not as taboo as they used to be. We still have an awful long way to go to get rid of all bigotry and prejudice but with the opening up of communications, quick and easy access to information (not all of it true or correct) social stigma, class divide, gender issues etc. are becoming more and more blended.
A SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP
We can only hope that a special friendship could last a lifetime.
These two special ladies have been friends for more than 60 years. They are both octogenarians. My mother (June) is the brunette on the right of the picture and her best friend, Helen, is on the left.
For many years in their early married lives they lived in the same village almost opposite each other, their children were born within a few years of each other. In fact my mother helped Helen deliver her second baby as he came so quickly and before the midwife was able to arrive.
Both women have been married to their husbands for 60+ years and both have celebrated Diamond Wedding Anniversaries.
Due to distance and physicality problems they don’t get to see each other very often (although they only live half an hour’s drive away) but they take turns in telephoning each other once a month and can talk for more than two hours at a time.
They are best friends, wives, mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. They have seen an awful lot in their lives. They have lost loved ones. Helen is in remission from cancer.
Helen is a wonderful knitter and made intricate woollen garments. Mum is a fantastic embroiderer. They are both good cooks and still, to this day, cook a meal from scratch with fresh ingredients most days of the week.
This is a special friendship.
This is FRIENDSHIP.
I would like to wish June and Helen many more years of friendship.