• F - Friendship

    #AtoZChallenge 2019 Tenth Anniversary blogging from A to Z challenge letter

    F is for Friendship

    "It's easy to be friends when
    everyone's 18.  It gets
    harder the older you get,
    as you make different
    life choices."
    Zadie Smith

    If that quote is true, then friendship that lasts 60+ years or more must be very very rare, indeed.

    Friendships are important at any age.  My 1 year old grand daughter has a friend in her day care.  But for seniors, friendships are as about as important as air is to all living beings.

    Having been at my mom's side during the last decade of her life, I had a chance to see the circle of her friendships.  Mom made friends easily.  She was a friendly, cheerful, compassionate woman.  It was easy to be friends with my mom.

    But as she reached her late 70s, changes occurred.  She was still the same friendly happy person, but some friends move away, death claimed others, health issues became barriers, and some just slipped through the cracks of life.  Changes to the social circle happen in later years and they are similar across the elderly population.

    What I do know is that without careful nurturing, social networks dramatically shrink in the elderly.  
    Almost universally, if a senior lives long enough, they outlive some, if not all, of their peers.  It is hard to develop new friendships at that point in life.

    I kind of think luck or maybe just good karma plays a role in sustained friendships for seniors!

    But here was one exception in my mom's circle that I have been honored to witness and am eager to share!

    Mom had one 'tried and true' dear friend.  Mrs. R was a friend mom made in 1954 - a neighbor in our apartment development.  Through all the years they remained close friends.  Phone calls, visits, keeping in touch ... even right up to my mom's last days in the Nursing Home. Yes, there were many obstacles.  They both had health issues, both became widows, Mrs. R. moved back to her home state of New York.  Mom also had the problem of a troubled marriage being married to an alcoholic.  But those things did not seem to matter to mom and Mrs. R.  They maintained a close friendship.  Even when mom was in the depths of her dementia - and recognized few people - Mrs. R made a visit to the Nursing Home to see mom (from NY) and continued to keep in contact with me to find out how she was doing.  At mom's death, despite the fact her own health failing, Mrs. R. made sure she was represented at the funeral by other family members.

    She reached out to me on occasion over the last 4 years.  She just never forgot my mom.

    How often does that happen in life?  Friendships that spill over the divide of generations.

    Last fall Mrs. R. invited my sister and I to her home in Long Island.  In the last year, my mom became at Great Grand Mother - twice.  Mrs. R. was excited to hear about mom's expanding family - 4 years after mom's death - she was interested and happy about these babies.  So, yes ... my sister and I hopped on a train and spent the weekend visiting this dear friend who more than earned the title of 'Best Friend Ever!!'  In the photo above we were sharing an photo album we brought as gift for her filled with pictures of mom's Great Grand babies!

    For myself, I am blessed to have two friends of very long duration.   (Picture below: Left to right.  R, L and me.)  We all met at that same apartment in 1954.  As children we played together.  But life did take us in different directions.  Over the years we would bump into each other. Most people don't typically have these long term relationships.

    The picture below was taken at my mom's grave site on the day she was buried.  These childhood friends both came to her funeral.  And the most amazing fact of all was that my mother had been friends with their mothers for a life time.

    Friendships are important to all people because humans are social beings. 
    But friendships for aging adults are a reward you give yourself for living a long life!
    I am reaping that reward!

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