It was a grand day. Wonderful friends, delicious food, two bottles of bubbly, and a renewal of our authentic selves. I am sure it was better therapy that a year in therapy!
We were five to lunch. Four that appear to have become the stable centre, and then one who lives a more fragile life and so is an infrequent addition. Sadly, I hardly recognised her, as she no longer cares for herself, is drowning in depression and the cares of a heroin addicted adult daughter and the guardianship of their small grandson. The entire family lives on welfare. There was never a glimpse of the brightness of her girlhood.
We tried to offer her support, and to make her day a happy one. I know that I returned home with a sore throat from the talking and the laughter, for that is what we do when we are together, we share and we laugh.
Problems are not just for those struggling with life. Another friend is setting off on the grey nomad adventure in a custom built caravan (such additional features as their own washing machine, solar panels, sheer luxury) yet friend and her husband are beset with worries, many of their own mindset. Her husband is convinced that he is going to die next year, when he will reach the same age (56) as his father was when he died of a heart attack. He has undergone all types of tests and has been given the all clear, has no history of health issues, and his mother, whose genes he shares naturally, is alive and well. Yet his fear persists. Friend doesn’t cope well with stress and has suffered from her own depression (I suspect being married to him might be one!) and so despite their wealth and comfort, have constructed a life under fear.
Both these women grew up in dysfunctional families, with hard, cold, alcoholic fathers. Love wasn’t shown to them, they were viewed as an extra worker on family farms. Another friend from the same background, who is single by choice after divorce, has rebuilt her life and now owns her own business, though she did suffer a stroke two years ago (now recovered).
Her way of coping is to build on the truth. She was a teacher aide, but she tells it as though she was actually a teacher. “Oh when I used to teach…” The truth is never enough, she feels a need to embroider added details. In her mind apparently, she is never enough. Yet in other ways she is brutally honest, and every time we meet she thanks me again for giving her money or sharing my own lunch during our days at high school, when she had no food at home.
I do love them all dearly. We all have our foibles and frailties. (Well, I don’t as you know, but I can’t intimate them too much!) The days that we come together I anticipate with great joy. For many years we did not communicate except for Christmas and birthday cards as we built our own lives, but I gathered my courage a couple of years ago and organised a lunch. Seven of us came together after decades apart, and the years just dropped. I have reaped rewards each and every time we have met since.
This week I told my graduating class to make an effort to stay in touch with those they care about at school, for no one knows you like the people you live your life with through your teenage years as you grown into the people you will be. They probably thought Mrs FD was being a silly crazy woman but if just one remembers and makes the effort, I know that she will be the richest woman in the world.
I am so pleased with myself too. I managed to avoid the sugar laden dessert menu and settled for a lovely bowl of fruit salad. No sugar in my coffee, and from the two bottles of bubbly I only had a half glass from each as I was driving. My main course was blue vein truffled fettuccine that was so delicious I wanted to lick the bowl (but restrained myself, I am Flamingo Dancer after all!).
Little things in life do mean the most.
On Hometown gossip, there was a bar room murder at the local hotel the night before. Further detail was that the hotel/pub was until very recently owned by a bikie gang who were using it to launder money. A prison has been built just outside of town, and though the government has spent money on infrastructure for the town, it has led to a lowering of the quality of people’s lives. It is not the town that I grew up in, which is sad. It has lost its spirit. Progress? It doesn’t seem so right now.