I was recently reminded just how precious a long-term friendship is, and how it can bring joy and great memories to life.
A couple of weeks ago my wife and I attended the Golden Anniversary of my best friend (Stan) and his wife (Kathy) in Torrance, Calif. Stan had been the Best Man at our wedding in 1960, and I was his Best Man in 1964. Now, 50 years later, we were all together again, along with a couple hundred guests, to celebrate this milestone in their lives.
What was especially meaningful at this celebration was the reunion with two other men that I had grown up with, and attended school with since kindergarten. Except for our 50th High School Class Reunion in 2008, I hadn’t had an opportunity to “catch-up” on their lives, and re-live some of our past memories. Both of these men have also been married to their wives for over 50 years, and we share many of the same values and life experiences almost 7 decades later.
Maybe my experience is not unique, but I would guess that not many people still have a bond with people they grew up with (now almost 70 years ago), and that bond is so tight despite the miles and years that separate us.
But that’s what a real friendship is all about. Despite time, and distance, and life’s challenges, being able to maintain that relationship, and share the joys and hurts that life throws at us, that’s something money can’t buy.
Today, I meet people who are bogged down in bitterness and anger with failed relationships. Although they may have a few people in their life that they would call “friends”, because of the hurt they’ve experienced with a friend, or more likely a family member, they are racked with guilt and unforgiveness. Genuine friendship eludes them. And they are lonely and often bitter.
However, this does not have to be our plight. If we have strong friendships, we need to continue to cherish and cultivate those relationships. If we find ourselves harboring resentments over past hurts, we need to seek reconciliation and forgiveness.
Life is too short to miss out on the great joy and fulfillment that true friendship brings.
Carl R. Johnson is the Community Relations Director at Kitsap Alliance of Resources for Elders (KARE).