Regardless of your age, I encourage you to take time occasionally to think of all the friends who have come and gone in the revolving door of your life.
Every change in your life brings opportunities for new friends. How many of those opportunities did you turn into friendships? And how long did those friendships last?
Think about how each friendship enriched your life by providing new experiences and opening your mind to new ideas.
My very first friend lived next door to me in the small town where we grew up. As toddlers and preschoolers we were inseparable. She’s there in most of my childhood pictures. She’s the blond; I’m the brunette. Today we live hundreds of miles apart but keep in touch on Facebook.
When I started grade school I made a lot of new friends. Some are no longer living, and others are still in touch! More than 60 years later we use email because we are spread across the country.
As we progress through the years of education, through junior high to senior high the circle of friends continues to grow. Then comes college or military service, or our first jobs all of which creates even bigger circles of friends.
And then there are the friends who are neighbors where we live and that circle increases each time we move. There are friends whose kids go to school with our kids, or who go to the same place of worship.
There are countless business friends. For me, after a 43-year career, I’m not sure I can even name them all. Some stay in touch by email, others by social media, and many I’ve lost touch with. But there are many fond memories.
My most recent group of friends are the amazing people I’ve met since moving to Florida. We’ve volunteered together at community events. We’ve partied together. We’ve shared all the amazing stories and experiences that brought us all to this fabulous place called the Forgotten Coast.
During Covid shutdowns there are two women I got together with every Thursday morning here in Florida. We sat social distanced at a community park and talked about whatever was on our minds. We shared personal stories and life experiences. Memories of those weekly conversations are among the most valuable that I have.
Like me, most of my friends are dealing with challenges of aging.
Plans we made are changing. I have friends who have moved to new places to get health treatments. I know I’ll never see them again.
So many friends are dealing with serious health issues. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, bone fractures, COPD, Parkinsons, loss of vision, loss of hearing, arthritis, Crohns disease, and a whole myriad of ailments for which TV ads promise “relief” but only extend more pain and suffering with the devastating side effects they create.
As I connect with my friends we share our medical stories. We commiserate about the delays in getting answers from our doctors. We share horror stories about the prescription drug industry – from pharmacies to the pharmaceutical companies and the DEA who regulates to the death where in other countries you can simply walk into a drug store and get whatever you need without all the red tape.
In 2013 I lost my lifelong best friend to cancer. The last two years of her life were mostly spent in some form of suffering. In 2022 I lost another very special friend to cancer. Like me she was an avid “foodie” who loved to cook, invite people to her table, share food and wine with her friends. I remember how sad it was for her to no longer be able to enjoy food. And I treasure the last meal we had together at her favorite restaurant in Pensacola, FL where every Monday night was Lobster night!
Earlier this year friends were coming to stay with us for a few days. But I had to call them to let them know I was in the hospital and not sure what was to come for me, so I canceled their visit. Turns out they couldn’t come either. Because of health issues. But I cherish the times in prior years when they did come to visit and the fun things we did … including taking them to Panama City Beach’s only winery for wine tasting. Who knew there was a beach winery?!
So many friends.
So many fabulous memories.
This is the true measure of wealth that we build up to sustain us through our older years. It builds up in the emails, text messages, cards, and phone calls we get and send.
Because of my health issues I am taking a break from writing my blog for a few weeks as I get settled in to start another phase of dealing with my cancer. It begins with leaving Florida and going back to PA. My friends write they are praying for a miracle. I’ll take all the prayers I can get.
On Monday, July 31st I’ll be back in touch with you all through a new blog posting. In the meantime, have a wonderful July 4th holiday! Hope you get to spend it with family and friends!
“No friendship is an accident.”O. Henry
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