Posted by: gaylejervis | January 13, 2011

GRATITUDE FOR THOSE WHO DEFY THE PRACTICE OF “OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND”

It is a lovely thing to watch a group of people grow old together and whose friendship just grows stronger as they face all of the trials that accompany aging.  My friend and I recently shared a phone conversation discussing a group of people from church commonly called the Prime Timers.  They have enjoyed each other’s company for decades and now many of them have moved into the same senior citizen’s home.  We joked that as we get older a group of us should imitate them and live near one another since we intuitively knew that this kind of community was important for all ages but even more important as we get older.

Just as so often happens after a particular conversation I found myself reading a book that had a chapter on the importance of friendship.  The author even gives guidelines for making friends.  First, she says,  “If you want to meet people with whom you have something in common, do things on a regular basis that involves others.” Oh bother!!  I can’t get past even the first guideline without reacting.  It is not easy to form new friendships or even to nurture present friendships due to all the restrictions imposed upon me by poor health.   I haven’t enjoyed the luxury of meeting a friend for coffee, or forming a book club or a knitting club or going to a movie together in a LONG time.

Well, rather than more ranting, I move onto the next guideline:  She writes, “Find interesting, fun people.” Yikes!  Here we go again; there is obviously a presupposition that most of her readers can look in a Continuing Education Brochure and plan on taking various courses of interest and thereby meet those like -minded people.  Recently, I heard a friend discuss how she might take a hula -hoop class for exercise.  Now there would be a group of fun and interesting people!

Feeling a little discouraged , I read her last “helpful”  suggestion.  She writes, “Don’t overlook the people you know.” Sadly, I don’t make a very good friend.  Friendships are usually nurtured by doing things together.  Consequently, it is very common for the chronically ill to lament the loss of many friendships as their illness slips from months into years.  It’s not that we don’t understand but that doesn’t prevent our feeling abandoned and alone.  However, I am one of the very fortunate chronically ill people because   I am blessed to have a number of women who maintain a rather unusual friendship with me but one that I treasure.

With one special friend in particular, we have embraced the powerful tool of e-mails in order to keep in contact.  In fact I think it actually keeps us even more current about what is happening in our worlds since we don’t assume that at some point we will meet for coffee and “catch up.” I think we are experiencing the lost art of letter writing through our e-mails as we share not just “what we are doing” but how we are feeling,  During the week, we also have formed a ritual of calling each other every Thursday morning at 8:30 a.m.  We have discussed how this phone date is very important since it would be easy to “put off” that call and suddenly a whole week could pass without our talking to each other.  Often, I talk to my sister-in-law on Mondays on her day off from work and as my sister is working less hours,  we will probably resume our Friday morning call to each other.   I have another friend who I don’t talk to as often since she works full-time but I value her efforts keeping us in touch.   As I reflect upon this author’s guidelines, I think they are too limiting since there is an underlying assumption that friendships form mostly from shared activities. However, I also know that the friendships I have  require very special women since they must be very intentional about befriending me and they must defy the more commonly followed practice of “out of sight, out of mind.”  I cannot begin to express my gratitude for these women who have stepped outside of those natural parameters of friends through activities and have maintained their friendship with me.  You know who you are:  THANK YOU!

(The book I referred to is called  The Ten Smartest Decisions A Woman Can Make After Forty by Tina B. Tessina)

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Responses

  1. Thank you – as I am assuming to be one of the many who maintain contact with you over the airwaves as opposed to face-to-face. Not that it wouldn’t be nice to share a cup of tea in the same room – but you are right in that all our friendships with you are special as we have opportunity to share more specifically with each other. Kind of like “Dear Diary” but a diary that comments back with instruction, encouragement, gentle rebuke as needed and plenty of humor and laughter. I wouldn’t trade it for anything- except of course your total recovery to health. Keep posting, it’s one more opportunity to ‘chat’!


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