At the time of writing this post, I am devastated over the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends. As the years pass and we get older, it is inevitable that we will lose some of our old friends, however, when the inevitable happens, it doesn’t lessen our grief. I grew up in a small town, Fort Myers, Florida, in a neighborhood where there were lots of kids my age. I have had many friends for well over 50 years! Lucky me! I went to a kindergarten near my home, an elementary school two blocks from my home, and my middle school and high school were within walking/biking distance. I went to school with many of the same people from 1st through 12th grades; others, since we were 4 years old in kindergarten. My oldest friend, a beautiful woman (inside and out!) named Linda, is someone I met when we were in the church nursery together at age 2. I am loyal and faithful to my old friends. Despite not having lived (full time) in Fort Myers since 1976, and despite many differences in our lifestyles, etc., I have maintained friendships with many of my old friends over the years. Although I enjoy meeting new people, there are few people I have met in adulthood that come close to my old friends in terms of the fun times we share, the growth experiences we have embarked upon, and the implicit trust we place in each other. So… to Linda, Roger, Charlie, Chris, Margie, Teresa, Mary, Cheryl, Bob, Greg, Bob, and last but not least, my major professor and dear friend, Jack, thanks for all the wonderful years of love and laughter. To Carole, Anita, Mark, Cindy, J.D., Ron, and Dean, thanks for the memories I will always have of our times together.
As I wrote in the blog about best friends, I do not have people go back as far in my life as Melissa does. Her experience is not unique perhaps, especially in smaller towns, but it different from my experience. I have friends from as far back as 6th grade, but only a few that I am still in touch with today, other than through the magic of Facebook. Her friends are more of a coterie into which I have been able to join with some of these friends, but perhaps in a 1 step removed “membership.” I value the old friends (though perhaps the words “long time friends” is less painful) because they anchor me, all of us, to our earlier lives and provide a perspective that is impossible to share with friends met later in life. Friendships formed at any time in life are special and worthy of the work sometimes required to keep them going. And, many of the later friendships are deep and will be lasting because of the time shared is easier than some “old” friendships often separated by miles. Having lived outside of the USA for an extended time, I sometimes felt that I could tell who my best friends were – those who kept in touch despite the distance in a time before email. That was not intended as a test, but it worked out that way in some respects. Those who kept in touch helped keep me going in a foreign land for sure. And, I appreciate it today even more than I did then.