Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Making New Friends and Losing Old Ones

Dear Friends,

I hope you're well.

When my aunt was in her 60's, I asked what she found hard about getting older. She said she could deal with physical changes but losing family and friends was hard. She advised me to always stay busy and involved and keep meeting new people and making friends of different ages. As some move or die, you will still have friends to call.

This advice stayed with me and I've always enjoyed meeting people both in and outside of my age group.

I've always had only a couple of really good friends, a lot of nice friends but not as close, and then a lot of acquaintances I call friends. I've had some great friends who float in and out of my life, seeing each other rarely but enjoying the heck out of our time together. And I have had some great friends who just drift away, like our time together was intense and then done. 

And all of that is okay.

We've lived in a townhouse complex for years and our habit was to pull into the garage after long workdays and go directly inside. 

I didn't make friends here.

Thanks to a political dust-up with our homeowners association, I talked with various neighbors. One neighbor had lived 3 doors away from us for around 17 years. Let's call her "Sue." I guess because our kids were out of the house that we finally had time for ourselves and we hit it off. We shared a similar worldview and sense of humor, both of us crazy about the movies and other interests. She became a dear friend. 

Sue and her husband had been thinking about moving and just didn't know where they would go until one weekend when they visited friends in another area of California. They loved the place and within a couple of months their house was sold and they were gone.

During their last weeks here, Sue said she had told her husband she would miss me. He pointed out that one great thing this proved was that we are not "too old" to make new friends and we can find people right under our noses that we'd enjoy being around.

I've thought about that a lot and appreciate that her husband said the right words and I received them second-hand and they meant something to me. I also know that realizing they would be gone soon, we both talked about things that were deep in our hearts, worries and experiences, joys and hopes. It's rare to have those types of conversations.

Now I want to mention loss. I know a woman who developed memory problems at a far too young age. Her friends miss the person she was and will never be again. I know that this will happen to many friends and maybe family in our future.

A former colleague, mentor and friend died suddenly in an accident and although it has been a few years, I still miss him. Some people are so special and irreplaceable. And that's life, too.

I hope you go out on a limb and meet new people. Be brave and put yourself out there and see what you have in common and what you can learn from others.

I wish you friendship. 

Best wishes,