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Tue, Jan. 28

Getting by with a little help from my friends

The dictionary I use defines a friend as "a person one knows with whom they have a bond of mutual affection, excluding a family member."

Sister and I found an old friend the other day. We had lived next door to each other more than 50 years ago. We lost track of one another when we were all in our twenties. We knew she had a different last name when she married the second time, and we could not find out what it was. After searching off and on for many years, we finally found her adult son on Facebook. Within a short time, she and I were chatting on the phone like we were still those young girls from 50 years ago.

Not all old-friend reunions turn out well. I have found a few old friends that I wish I had not spent the time looking for. It doesn't always matter how long you hung out together. Often times it is more about what you shared during that time. Some friendships start as teenagers and just get better from there. Others start when you are in elementary school. You may even have made a great friend out of a co-worker when you were a bit older. What makes these friendships withstand the test of time? Is it what you continue to have in common? Or is it just that you only remember the good times you shared?

Whatever it is that makes a friendship last a lifetime, it is rare. I know many people who do not have such a person in their life. I don't know how important that is, but I do know that new friends can also play an important role. There are acquaintances who are not really friends, and you may have many of those. That would include perhaps a neighbor, someone you used to work with or even the mail carrier. They aren’t people you would include in your holiday dinner, but you might send them a card.

Another definition for friend, "A list of contacts within a social networking website." (Even the dictionary had to keep up with social media.)

These are the people we might call our Facebook friends. Now that is a rather mixed bag. Some may be people you do truly know, and others are sometimes people you know by playing the same games online or by getting into the same "groups." I have met people online who I only know from Kingman Pet Connection. They are surely NOT the same as my real friends, but friends they are! I have a few online friends that I connected with through my blog. A few of them live in other states and read the Kingman Daily Miner for various reasons. I also consider them friends. I have a couple of nieces who have more than 1,000 friends on Facebook. I very much doubt that they even know that many people. But they just continue to "friend" most everyone who sends them a friend request. I, on the other hand, will go directly to the page of the person sending me the request and check them out. If I am suspicious in any way, I delete the request. So far, it has worked nicely for me.

I sometimes do not want to admit it, but at this point in my life I would have to say that my sister is indeed my closest friend. Lord knows it was not always like that. Like most siblings, we had our share of knocked-down dragged-out fights when we were kids. It often included hair-pulling, punching and smacking upside the head. If you were to ask her, I am sure she would say that she "was most often the winner" of those brawls, but I say that is debatable.

There are what people call "fair-weather" friends. I would take that to mean those who are there for you when things are good, but perhaps disappear if your life is going sour. You may have friends at work, but once the work day is done we give them little thought. Is it wrong to care more about some friends than others? Of course not. We can't be there for everyone. Especially those that have continuous drama in their everyday lives. Now that can be a draining experience, no matter how good the friendship.

I have had a few friendships over the years that I consider to have been lopsided. Those are the ones that you seem to do all the giving, while the friend does all the taking. Perhaps you are the one they come to for everything, but are rarely there when you need something. These friends would be the needy ones. These relationships will often fizzle out after the person moves away or changes jobs, or if you decide to change your number and your name!

I know there are some folks who choose to have no friends. Perhaps they are just total jerks, and no one wants to be there friend. Or maybe they prefer to just hang out with family and that takes up most of their time. Reminds me of an old “I Love Lucy” episode where she thinks all her friends have forgotten her birthday, and she ends up joining a support group called "Friends of the Friendless."

When Sister and I were kids and in Girl Scouts, at the close of each meeting we would all join hands and sing a song. I remember only this part of it: "Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other is gold."

I believe that a true and strong friendship will pass the test of time, no matter how many years you may have lost in between. Whatever your age, a friend is still a friend.

You will have to decide who that is and just how much of your life you want to share with them.

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