My mother is a wonderful example of enduring and ongoing friendship. She is turning 93 this month and lives in an independent/assisted living community. She has no major health problems and is as sharp as ever. When she complains about things, always mildly, it's often about the food, but once she said sadly to me that her friends were all dying. It's true - they're all in their 90s. But my mom has the wonderful gift and desire to keep making new friends, even though she knows she may lose them.
I have been thinking a lot about friendship lately because one long-time friendship seems to have run its course. My husband and I have been friends with another couple for decades. We enjoy music together, we eat out, we talk about our kids... But somewhere along the way there has been a shift, so subtle that we didn't notice it for a while. Our friends appear to need to put us down continually. We tell them some wonderful news, and one or the other of them pops the happy balloon with a negative comment.
"My niece was offered three reporting jobs right out of college!" "[disparaging snort] Well, you know newspapers are dying."
Said to me: "Joe and Sue told us they went to your concert. They said it was awful."
It's a constant barrage. Neither of us can figure out why they have started treating us like this. I started thinking about our long friendship and I realized that it has devolved into a sort of friendship of convenience. If we're going to the same concert, we eat out together beforehand. We invited each other to life events. Other than that, we don't interact. And now, we don't want to.
So this has led us to thinking about forming some new friendships. It's not that easy once you are out of school, and especially if you are retired, like my husband. It's scary, too. What if the person you'd like to know better turns down your invitations?
My mother had some wonderful almost life-long friends. She met her best friend Lorraine in college. They got their first teaching jobs together, in the same high school. When they both married, they ended up in different parts of the country, but they always kept in touch. My parents asked Lorraine and Ray to be my brother's godparents. When my parents retired to Minnesota, they were all back in the same area and Lorraine and Ray chose the same assisted living community as my mother. Lorraine passed away and several years later Ray did also. Their passing was a huge loss for my mother. But she continues to reach out and make new friends.
I have long-time friends as well - a few from high school, more from college, scattered all over the country. I treasure those friends, but we also need the friends who we can go out to dinner with, see a movie, just sit and chat. And so, we are reaching out and hoping to find more people to add to our lives. Thanks Mom, for the great example.