The Divine Miss M said it best in her timeless song, “You Got to Have Friends.” For me, her words ring true.
“But you got to have friends,
The feeling’s oh so strong.
You got to have friends,
To make that day last long.
I feel blessed to have many dear friends. Last night, Frank and I spent the evening with a special group of friends, “the gang,” as we have affectionately called ourselves for the last 25 years or so. There are six of us in this group — friends who feel more like family. We have seen each other through good and bad times; we’ve had our ups and downs, and always we are there for one another, no matter the circumstances.
Last night was an ordinarily special evening with the gang. To help us beat the winter doldrums, Roz planned a fun and relaxing get together. Roz is often the glue that helps us stay bonded when we might need to spend time with one another; she seems to find ways to make the ordinary special. For last night’s festivities, she sent email invites and asked us to bring a “white elephant” gift for exchanging. She cooked a delicious dinner of chicken casserole, rice, broccoli and fresh green salad, accompanied with warm Italian bread. Perfect comfort food for a cold winter’s night. Apple pie à la mode for dessert, and we were loving it! All the while, music from our youth played in the background.
After dinner we played cards, a favorite pastime of this group. Texas Hold’Em was the order of the day. Lots of laughs and story telling. We exchanged our silly gifts and reminisced about days gone by. We talked about all kinds of things that our children and grandchildren might not remember or even know about. Things like rotary phones and teletype machines. Car windows that required hand cranking to open. We laughed as we recalled the father of copy machines — the mimeograph machine. When we were in school, our handouts were on white paper with blue ink “dittos.” Each of us recalled different yet similar memories of greeting the Fuller brush man at our door, or seeing a junk collector combing the neighborhood. There was a quieter tone when we talked about our fathers and uncles who suffered in silence from PTSD as a result of WWI and our brothers/friends/cousins affected by the same after the Vietnam war.
We may have many acquaintances but count fewer as friends. And, maybe there’s a reason for that. Friends are the people who love you, warts and all. They are the people who recognize that time and distance are meaningless and understand that nothing changes about your love and affection for one another. True friends are precious relationships. Even Donkey (from Shrek) understood the meaning of a true friend:
Shrek: [to Donkey] WHY are you following me?
Donkey: Oh, I’ll tell you why.
[starts to sing]
Donkey: ‘Cause I’m all alone / There’s no one here beside me / My problems have all gone / There’s no one to deride me! / But ya gotta have friends…
Shrek: STOP SINGING! Well, it’s no wonder you don’t have any friends!
Donkey: Wow! Only a TRUE friend would be that truly honest!
I have no doubt that “the gang” will be together for as long as our time on earth allows. We will continue to laugh and dream together, cry together, and at times, hurt one another, albeit unintentionally. We will party together, vacation together and attend to each other’s physical and emotional needs together. That’s what true friends do. And, I guess Bette is right when she sings, “You got to have friends.”