Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘friendship’

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods. (Aristotle)

Ann and I share peanut butter sandwiches and listen to music. We sing along and fake the lyrics. It doesn’t matter whether we know the words or not. The sky promises rain. Inside we celebrate sun. Ann couldn’t see blue if it did suddenly break through unexpectedly. My friend is blind. Her eyes don’t work; her heart-vision does.

She often takes an Access bus to visit a friend in a nursing home. It cheers him up.

“How long can you stay?” I ask.

“What do you need to do today?” she answers. “I don’t want to overstay my welcome.”

The kitchen floor needs a scrub. I have edits. Always. However, I suspect I need the presence of a friend. A shared awareness of a moment that exists now and won’t return.

Ann has the uncanny knack of knowing how I really feel. The last time we were together I’d been upset, and she sensed it. Today is better. We celebrate in simple ways. I could wear a shirt one tear away from the rag bag; she wouldn’t know, or care. She cherishes more lasting values. Who a person is, an ability to give, to care.

The television is off. I’ll face the world scene later. After I accept the fact that both good and evil exist.

Ann and I blast out the words we recognize in old songs and hum when the lyrics don’t get through to our hearing aids.

“I’ll be your friend forever,” she says.

Forever is more than I can grasp. A lot has happened since time began. However, Aristotle was onto something centuries ago. Friendship has tangible value.

May you always have friends you can trust.

 

Read Full Post »

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open. (John Barrymore)

My grandson, Dakota, and I explore our backyard with his new red plastic truck. It’s large enough for him to sit on it. I’m grateful he realizes I would crush it. A septuagenarian squatting that low and then maneuvering the toy from a bug’s height, would be a sight for the neighbors. I wouldn’t want them to anticipate a 911-call.

“You know you won’t live forever,” he says.

“Yes, I do. That’s why I celebrate time with you, give to others, and love as much as I can.”

He doesn’t answer and continues playing with the truck. We create ramps from National Geographic Magazines. He rolls construction paper and tapes it with heavy tape. My granddaughters’ baby doll bottles in the center maintain firmness.

We let the moments speak for themselves, the challenge to roll or unroll. To go over the ramp with the truck or bypass it. If one tactic doesn’t work, Dakota tries another. My little buddy doesn’t give up easily.

I consider how quickly the notion, not-good-enough, flashes into my mind. I know it was taught to me in childhood. What isn’t good enough? The statement is too generic to be true. Nevertheless, the temptation to just-forget-it rises far too often. For most human critters, both young and old.

My friend, Cathie, calls. She hasn’t seen me at the Y for a while. Either I have been entertaining grandkids or working on my book. She has something to give me.

“When I saw this, all the bright colors,” she says, “I thought of you and just had to get it.”

I plan to meet Cathie. On Friday morning. At ten AM.

She has made a pillow. Cathie is a seamstress. She uses her gift to celebrate other people.

“It’s pre-hugged,” she says, holding the pillow through the plastic bag against her chest.

Since we have both been in the pool, we are soaking wet. A chlorine hug doesn’t negate the love attached to her or her work.

Life isn’t perfect. It never will be. However, with grandchildren like Dakota and friends like Cathie, sweetness is easier to find.

 

Read Full Post »

rose in frameAppreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. (Voltaire)

I’m struck by two profoundly different moments. The first, an original drawing received on a Christmas card, two months late. The artist died fifteen days before the holiday. The second, a red fabric rose given by my friend Cathy as a Valentine. She told me it was a thank-you for my ready smile.

Cathy’s welcoming approach to everyone results in a sunshine response. However, I’ll accept her gift and hug. Who started our friendship? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Living that friendship does matter.

The Christmas card has found a quiet display in the bedroom. The artist’s picture with his birth and death date appear on the back. I hear his voice in my memory. See you later. A wave and laugh. Not enough time for one more thank you, acknowledgement of his gifts for humor, art, affability.

I talk to him in the silence of my thoughts. About the nuances of art that appear simple, yet come with quick, aptly applied brush strokes. Then, I switch to travel stories and ask what it was like to ride a camel. No response from the other side; I would believe my mind had cracked if I caught his voice in the lamp or mirror.

Then, I realize the gifts of this day bring enough gratitude. One rose, Cathy. Three granddaughters. One almost-grandson and a simple wedding between his mom and my son is in the future. A tiny affair with a big impact—at least in my family’s life.

What is excellent in others belongs to us as well. May that excellence continue to grow because of the next step I take. May we meet in that space…

 

 

Read Full Post »

A good friend is a connection to life—a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. (Lois Wyse)

A. and I sing along with Christmas carols played in the background at the senior Christmas party. She is not distracted by the colors and movement around her—she can’t see them. Her white cane leans against an empty chair next to her.

A.’s enthusiasm buoys mine. We have already exchanged gifts, nothing dramatic. She gave us the practical items we asked for: potholders and handkerchiefs. We got her a grocery gift-certificate. The gifts don’t matter. Our intentions do.

“You don’t know it, but you really helped me,” I tell her.

Then the leader of the senior program goes to the microphone and asks for quiet. Among a group of older folk, that’s something like suggesting a tornado stop mid-whirl. For a change, everyone’s hearing aids are tuned-in. A little girl plays a few carols on guitar, single notes, but the songs extend into complicated musical patterns.

The featured entertainer switches from guitar to keyboard.

“He’s good,” A. says, tapping out the rhythm to “Here Comes Santa Claus.”

Our friends at the table seem to pick up on her enthusiasm. A. wins one of the door prizes.

When we are in the car and returning home, A. asks how she could possibly have helped me.

I tell her about how our friendship deepened when Jay was in the hospital in the fall. I was having muscle spasms and needed to care for my recovering spouse. She was sunshine when I felt uncertain and more than a little frightened. A. told me then she could listen and would be my friend forever. Her assurance helped me get through a difficult time.

I watch as she feels the items through the plastic wrap over the basket of the door-prize win. Dish cleaner, a wash cloth, some unidentified smaller objects, possibly kitchen oriented. I can’t see anything tucked under the visible objects. I don’t know if any other treasures wait inside. A ceramic angel is situated on top, in the center.

At first I wonder how an angel could have anything to do with miscellaneous cleaning products. Maybe the connection doesn’t need to be obvious. Maybe the blessed isn’t separated from the ordinary. And a human-angel is appreciating a ceramic image with a tactile dexterity I have never experienced.

The winter solstice appears now. Each day slowly adds daylight. A. has never seen light. Yet, she has absorbed it through her being, even if her eyes can’t observe a single cloud, or recognize one shade of blue or gray.

I see the shapes and colors. However, I haven’t captured the fullness of what I can touch, taste, smell, see, and hear. Yet.

A., my newest life teacher, unlocks her apartment door. “Call you in a couple of weeks,” she says. I hope she doesn’t mind if I contact her sooner. This student has a short memory.

The Solstice: created from a public domain image

winter-solstice-with-background

 

Read Full Post »

Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being. (Kevin Kruse)

Our friend, Tom, likes homemade soup. So I am making several varieties for his birthday gift. Unusual? Maybe. But I went to college with Tom’s wife, Linda. The four of us have grown through both joy and trials. We now have grandchildren; an off-the-shelf purchase doesn’t seem adequate. So, I’m sending him healthy food, a tangible wish for long life and tomorrows filled with celebrations.

My husband and I did buy a one-hundred-percent-practical item, an insulated Tervis cup. He will be happy with it because he is a grateful person. But soup takes time to create flavor. It sends out a wholesome scent throughout the house.

Homemade soup is symbolic of the time a friendship takes to build, to develop into something unique. Linda and I were part of a larger group in college. My mother told me that another relationship I had would eventually fizzle out. We didn’t have a lot in common. But that Linda and I would be friends forever. Mom and I were not close, but she recognized quality when she saw it. And Linda’s capacity to give seemed to have enormous potential. Mom was right-on.

When Linda met Tom I knew the mix was right. My husband Jay liked Tom, too. Friendship soup was about to brew.

Usually when I make homemade soup I use our small crock-pot. Then I go to exercise class, shop, clean, or write, and let a low electrical setting do the work. Today I fill the largest pot I have with meat and seasonings and simmer the mix on a back burner. I watch the pot to make sure the boil is steady and that the mixture doesn’t burn or overflow.

Since utopia is fantasy everyone’s life sticks to the bottom or boils over. Eventually. I had a pulmonary embolism. Tom and Linda have experienced crises in their lives as well. Our strengths have survived.

Tom is the consummate teacher. He retired and then returned at the same high school under the public school system—not because he needed to do it—because he loves to teach. He earns less yet works as much if not more than he did before.

Tom’s love of teaching does not appear in his classroom as soft and fluffy. In fact the students see him as a hard-liner. He prepares them for real life. Although they may not have the maturity to recognize it. Yet. To a kid, homework seems pointless. Good teachers know the outside-the-classroom exercise gives the instructors even more to do. The work is for the student’s benefit. The world is not necessarily forgiving. Even in the wild, the animal that decides to skip a day of hunting will go hungry that night.

To continue to persevere despite an atmosphere of apathy shows integrity. I applaud Tom for it.

The soup takes hours to boil, cool, and then boil again into tomato, cheese, vegetable, or rice varieties. But I enjoy every minute of the process.

Giving and being, that kind of success is possible for almost anyone.

soups for Tom

Read Full Post »

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star. (Friedrich Nietzsche)

Perhaps I have too much chaos within me because I feel crowded in water aerobics class—actually there are only about twelve participants. Not exactly a mob. But the instructor directs us to continuously travel back and forth. The possibility of bumping into someone seems high to me.

My energy feels almost electric. I’m more than busy at the moment with babysitting duties and preparing for a newly published book to appear. In the water that electricity seems dangerous even if it is only a metaphor. So I swim into the deeper water and tread through the moves. I love the feel of suspending. And I see another benefit: a tall friend is here today. She buoys me with her spirit.

She and I look as different as a mountain and a valley. I need to stand on a step stool to get sufficient pressure at the locker’s swimsuit spinner. At six-foot tall she is at the deeper end of the indoor pool, but doesn’t need to kick to stay afloat. I look up to her physically—and as a person.

This lady talks about her dedication to family with the same offhandedness a person would use when counting loads of laundry. She gives because the need is there. She is not aware of her own beauty.

As we talk I sense similar teen experiences. When adolescence hit I would have pronounced angst with an accent on every letter if sharing feelings had been permitted in my home. Since they were not, the not-good-enough notion imploded and almost destroyed my spirit. Changing that attitude has taken time and effort. But I don’t regret the past. Because of it I am less likely to judge someone else. I also have  a storehouse of great fictional characters, all based on a confused, normal young girl—me.

My friend shares a current difficulty she is facing. It sounds familiar. She has a family member in hospice. Cookie-cutter supportive care doesn’t work for everyone. Sure, it would be great if so-and-so would play the let’s-have-fun-while-we-can game. But, sometimes the individual wouldn’t have played when he or she was twenty-three.

Later, I see my giving friend helping someone else. Her gift delays her departure when I know she has other tasks to perform, a long agenda for the day. I would like to give more details about that moment, but don’t want to break this woman’s anonymity.

Instead, I simply shout-out thanks into the electronic universe and hope treading water with her has brought some positive energy into me. I am thinking about her now with the hope that my words serve as a mirror reflecting the goodness I see.

It is contagious, in a positive way.

garland of beautiful deeds

 

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: