to have a dear friend is to be wealthy

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.

 

 

5 thoughts on “to have a dear friend is to be wealthy

  1. I, too, am lucky to have a group of friends from junior high school ( which is what we called it then) who gather several times a year for lunch. We met just last week. Now that we have all reached our next decade, I am grateful that I have my health and can be as active as I want to be. So many of them have had hip or knee surgery or are hobbling around until they have such surgery. And this time brought sad news, one of our classmates was recently diagnosed with ALS ( Lou Gerhig’s disease) and the change in his speech is dramatic. But we met, and ate, and gossiped anand shared memories and laughed and laughed. TO have friendshipps of over 50 years is to be lucky indeed!

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  2. Great to have that companionship. Next month I’m going to Cambodia with 3 friends I’ve known since college days. We don’t see a lot of each other, but the reunions are always a lot of fun. Over that period of time, from having started with nothing (and I’ve still got half of it left – Seasick Steve), life’s path has been quite different for all of us also.

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  3. I haven’t really managed this myself.
    Some of it is just sheer weird history – peculiar demographic doings, and dispersals, and people spread across three continents.
    But I am poking at the kid about it.
    She’s better at these things than I ever was anyway.
    (And the much derided social media help a lot too.)
    it’s important, and I do feel the lack in its absence.

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  4. This post made me think about my high school girlfriends. I more or less ditched them when I met my first husband at 16…so I’m not sure they would welcome me back. We moved away and even when I moved back, I never looked them up. I always think that people who have maintained that connection are fortunate.

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  5. Great post, FD. Made me miss my friends from home, I can’t wait til we’re all together again at Christmas so we can catch up. I hope we’re still friends for years to come

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