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Friends are a tonic for what ails you

Published 9:58am Friday, May 3, 2013

“A faithful friend is a strong defense; And he that hath found him hath found a treasure.”
— Louisa May Alcott

My Mom used to have a framed poem hanging on the wall that went like this:

“Friendship is like a garden of flowers fine and rare.

It cannot reach perfection except through loving care.”

I’ve always remembered those words and through the years have come to realize how very important my friends are to me. In fact, I know I could not survive without them.

Most recently, I’ve needed my friends and as I’ve reached out to them, again and again, I am shown how blessed I am to have them. They lift me up in so many ways. They listen to my woes, and me as I cry the blues, and they don’t judge or tell me I should feel this way or that way. They really care and give hugs and help ease me over the threshold into a brighter place.

It has also been said that “friends are the family we choose for ourselves” and that is so true. My circle of friends is indeed filled with family members in every way.

Over the years I’ve struggled and have learned that I must reach out to those in my circle for assistance. To let a friend know what I’m going through at a particular time, eases my heart and soul in various different ways. And it goes both ways – if I am needed – I too try to be available to listen and offer comfort or to laugh and cry together. As I’ve aged, I’ve learned that to have friends, you have to be a friend in return.

I had a wonderfully close friend from high school days who would call me up in the middle of the night, just because she needed to talk. If the phone rang so late at night, I inevitably knew who it was and I’d get up, go in the kitchen, grab a chair and listen. She’s gone now but I think about those late night conversations and treasure them. As Thoreau said, “The most I can do for my friend is simply to be his friend.”

Growing up in Franklin really produced some special friendships. I don’t know if it was because we grew up here or whether it was the decade we grew up in, but we’re close still. I like to say that my Franklin friends are my forever friends. There is such a bond between us all that really is extremely strong.

Not that I haven’t got good friends who are not from Franklin. While living in North Carolina, I made great friends there as well. It reminds me of a little Girl Scout song we used to sing…make new friends but keep the old…one is silver and the other gold.

A conversation with a good friend – one who knows you well – who you’ve shared your innermost desires and secrets with – is a tonic for what ails you. As the years speed by, I’ve learned that some people who you think are friends disappoint you. So I’ve cast them aside. Just as I’ve cast aside negativity. There is no room in this short life to have people in your life who don’t really care about you.

Communication is the key to good friendships. You can’t just sit idly by and expect your friends to read your mind. As in any relationship, you have to tell them what’s going on.

I honestly don’t know what I’d do without my “friend family”. They truly lift me up in so many intangible ways. They are silver and gold – rare and precious to me.

An Elton John song says it all:

“Making friends for the world to see

Let the people know you got what you need

With a friend at hand you will see the light

If your friends are there, then everything’s all right.”

Lucy Wallace is managing editor of The Tidewater News. Her email address is lucy.wallace@tidewaternews.com

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