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Friends

Bill asked me one day how many friends I thought I might have. “Um. I don’t know, Bill. I haven’t counted lately,’’ I said in a tone that suggested I thought that was a really dumb question. “Well,” he continued, not the least put off by my tone, “do you think you still have any friends in Peachtree City?”
That hurt. Even if the question was completely innocent, he had to know on some level that the many, many “friends” I often named on four hands five or six years ago, had disappeared like snow in Georgia. I was reminded of the pride I took in “listing” those whom I called friends from my work after I retired as a part-time editor and proofreader, and those who were close to me through my Bible study, those women and at least one gentleman from my time teaching at McIntosh High, then the two or three who remained true after six years at Starr’s Mill High. And how about the four or five ex-students who still contacted me on a regular basis with news of their accomplishments and often their gratitude for having helped them chose a career and move ahead in life. Not to mention the neighbors who had become close over the 30-odd years we had lived on the cul-de-sac on Planceer Place.
Try this exercise yourself. I will warn you, it is painful. If you are like me, and the majority of older adults are, according to my conversations with even strangers, and I speak to a lot of strangers, (according to Bill I will talk to a post), with only a few exceptions, most of us have lost tons of friends. Seems every time we move, change schools, jobs, or spouses, or grow older and our interests change—we aren’t playing Bridge any more or stopping in at the local “watering hole” after work on Friday, or our kids are no longer in the same Ballet Class, or on the same Razor Soccer team and so we simply lose touch. We Just Lose Touch. That seems to be a big problem in my life. I keep losing friends simply because I move somehow and leave them behind.
I would like to think that these Lost Friends might be found and somehow reinstated; added back to my Friend Account. Some that I still love dearly, are gone, truly gone. My best high school friend, Andrea Lee Smith (nee) Smith, who married Bill’s roommate Claude Smith, died a number of years ago. I never had time (or did I just not take the time ?) to see her and rekindle what had been a wonderful, funny, older adolescent relationship. Andrea Lee was known as a “ditzy blonde,” but I knew better. She was a warm, tender, kind, and caring soul who laughed off what was sometimes meant to be a criticism of her intellect. So, maybe I had to help her with some English papers, Vocabulary tests, “stuff;” maybe that was because we stayed up too late on school nights playing Bridge at my house.
I still see Jean, another friend from that era. She was born, raised, schooled, married, worked, and lived in New Albany, the same small town that Bill was from. We no longer have anything in common. Very sad. She and Bill’s sister, niece, nephew, and lots of others we still see when we visit in North Mississippi have many of the same friends they went to elementary school with! How about that?
But that is really unusual. I don’t see too many folks who have stayed in the one town most of their lives. Even if they do, like my daughter and my good friend, a young writer, they have moved on in other ways. Jobs, colleges, marriages, churches. I love it that some are open to meeting and making new friends, to becoming “Best Friends” and that sometimes I get to be one of those. As much as I love each new friend, I miss those whom others seem to be able to keep forever. I never had a beach weekend with the girls. College roommates. Naw. I was never in a Sorority nor a Dorm. I never get invited to the lake house with four other girls to just “hang out” for a weekend. Ex-work buddies. Bummer.
But why in the world would I want to whine? I am so blessed. So is Bill, who although he lost his best buddies six and then four years ago—he has the coolest high school reunions. We have made the dearest “new” friends in this little town of Senoia to which we moved six years ago. After 32 years in Peachtree City and as our arthritis, fibromyalgia, and general aging took a toll, we pulled up roots and found what we intended—a smaller house and smaller yard; It answered a lot of our needs; downstairs master, no dining room, less yard work. We also found work as volunteers at the Historical Museum and at our new church. Each of these venues provided not only volunteer opportunities but sweet, new friends as well.
These precious people have not replaced those we miss, long for and hope someday to rekindle a relationship with, but they sure do fill a mighty big gap, one left by those who just disappeared from our lives. Was it because we failed to write or to call them? Or was it because they did not call or write to us? Everybody is just so busy. Well, let me tell you that you need to “unbusy” yourselves, today. Call, write! For there is nothing like an old friend. Some are silver, some are gold….and they are the dearest, the sweetest, Old Friends.

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.

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