Friend Me?
Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Friend Me?

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Sheridan pushed the bedroom door open just a smidge and started waving while soundlessly blowing kisses. I lay propped up in the bed with a heating pad around my neck and a long, blue icepack along my back. My friend’s well wishes meant so much to me as I had just returned from having a “procedure” where the doctor inserted what was surely a 12 inch needle into several areas along my hip and back while at the same time, humming and chewing gum. That’s doing three things at once! Scary. And, it hurt.
Anyway, after returning from the aptly named Pain Clinic, I told Bill, “No visitors,” but I am very happy Sheridan, who never fails to lift my spirits, was allowed to break the rules. Do you have friends who just seem to sense when your spirits are ebbing, or understand when you need a boost? Or just plain need Help!
Like Patti and Joann, friends from church, who showed up to share the work after I had again raised my hand once too often, saying, “I can do that!” Ever have your family scold you for stretching yourself too thin, for overfilling your plate…like some little, greedy piglet, you just want it all. My daughter (who is also a “best” friend), Kim, often has to grab me by the collar and pull me up out of some mess I’ve gotten myself into by not “just saying No.” Thank goodness she is a whiz with graphics on the computer and finds time to create the signage, flyers, bookmarks, etc., etc. that her mother (me, again) has promised are “No problem” to do for whatever group needs whatever sign, bookmark, or flyer!
Other friends who seem to believe that I add something important to their lives, who trust me to pray for their safety and well-being, are a smaller but no less dear group. Ruth, Ellen, Sherry, Adina—I have called these women friends for a collective sum of 75 years, and, not to be overly dramatic, I think I would die for them. My very generous friend Maureen, who is the director of the Senoia Historical Museum where Bill and I enjoy giving time as volunteers, just showers both of us with thanks and sincere hugs. She often slips me a special little note of thanks (a lost art, the Thank You Note), and most recently the gift of a little book, a treasure of quotes and affirmations for writers. She thinks I am one of those. Her greatest gift to me is her confidence in what I can do!
I know you, too, have friends whom you see most often in a larger group, but who, when they break apart from the crowd and make a  bee-line to you, just make you feel as though someone turned a thousand volt Spotlight on inside! Ralph and Jane Arnold are two of the most consistently congenial, optimistic and buoyant people I have ever known, and it is their zest for life that meets, matches and ignites my own, Boom!
It is, of course, reasonable that we can’t just keep adding new people to our list of acquaintances, making them bosom buddies, forever friends, BFFs, as we move through life unless we make room for them in the safe deposit boxes that comprise our memory “banks.” Now we don’t want to shove those people we already love and care for to the dark recesses of that bank box, behind the newest little jewels we discover as we change jobs, addresses, schools, churches, and organizations. Even those places where we shop, where we buy our flowers, our groceries, our Good Junk are potential “Friend Zones.” Add a couple here, squeeze past a few there. It’s O.K. We don’t have to live in one another’s pocket in order to live in one another’s hearts.
I don’t know about you, but I have spent hours with a long, sad face, thinking of all the people who were such an important part of my life during the years I taught at McIntosh, for example. I have shed buckets of tears over those friendships that melted into nothingness with my retirement from Starr’s Mill. As I look back over the almost 40 years Bill and I have lived in Fayette and Coweta counties, in homes less than ten miles apart, there are only a handful of those sweet friends and neighbors that I see anywhere these days except on Facebook.
I adore watching Kathy and Don’s newest grandbaby learn to take her first steps, or seeing the new business my beloved ex-neighbor Julie has built in the Better Way complex. That’s yet another area of my life that used to consume days and weeks as I worked hard at a job I loved among men and women, friends for a time, interviewing and writing articles for the Better Times magazine. Gone now. Ghosts.
Friends do come and go in one’s life. It is sad but true that every five or ten years the list of lovely people I call “friends” seems to change; they just rotate out of my life, replaced by other lovely, fun, helpful people. Oh, there are those like my teaching buddy of 25 years, Kell Baker, or my precious Bible Study darlings Ruth, Sherry, and Adina who although I may not see them more than four or five times a year, and rarely even share a text or phone call, still—they have a space carved out in my heart where they are safely and eternally ensconced.
And there’s my other best friend. My youngest daughter, Leslie, who just today agreed to a rush order on a Power Point presentation that I need . . . like tomorrow! She will do this for me; not complaining, teasing maybe, but she will also be there the next time, and the time after that.
So.What are friends for?