She knows everything about me – the guys I dated, when I fell in love, why I got married and the things I was good at when I was 15. She also knows what I was like in college, what kind of wife and mother I became, my hopes, my fears, my dreams, my work, my successes, failures and ambitions. We are dedicated to sharing a lifetime of our experiences with one another.
Best friends are like that. I remember the day I met her in 1956, both of us wearing our felt poodle skirts. We bonded in gym class in the 10th grade, became roommates in college for a time and have remained glued to one another for 57 years.
For most of that time we lived only 30 minutes apart, so face time was taken for granted. Twelve years ago I moved to Florida and I think she understood why, though we never discussed it. The glue held and thanks to cell phones we speak with one another regularly and visit at least annually. She understands my values and encourages me by listening to all that pulses through my life.
I hope I return her gifts of caring and give her back what she has given me. I think a longtime friendship breeds that kind of reciprocity. We call it trust and it’s a precious commodity.
Time has changed the relationship, drawing us even closer to one another as age has tossed us the challenges of caring for aging parents, dealing with the trials, tribulations and joys of raising five children between us and adulthood with our husbands, seeing the physical changes that accompany the privilege of aging.
Being grandmothers has been even more of an adhesive as we share the experiences of watching our grandchildren grow up and seeing our children, as young parents, become who we used to be.
And as our journey progresses together, the girls who met in gym class have become the wives of loving husbands, professionals in the workplace, the parents of adult children and the grandmas who share the stories and photos of their progeny with one another. We talk about health issues that continue to arise and surprise us. And we consciously work at nurturing the bond that has kept us together past the half-century mark.
Do men pursue friendships differently? I’m not sure. I think they tend to bond in different ways then women do. For men, what draws them to one another seems to be doing things together. For women, just being together can be enough.
Best friendships grow out of caring, commitment and continuous work. They don’t just happen by themselves. And what motivates us to work hard to bond and remain together is our desire to live in the garden of our friends and grow with one another.
Freelance writer Judy Kramer can be reached by email at [email protected] She is author of “Changing Places: A Journey with My Parents into Their Old Age.”