Tuesday, 12 May 2015

True Friends Illustration

Friends! Hmmm . . . where to begin?

It's a topic that's very much on my mind these days.

As time goes by, I've become increasingly aware of the value of friendship. And yet each year that passes, the number of people I would call real, true friends gets smaller and smaller.

Some of my good friends have died; frankly, more than I would have expected at our age, especially as we keep hearing on the media that we're all living longer.

Others, from places I used to live and who were maybe not the closest of friends, have allowed the physical distance between our homes to finally let go of an increasingly meaningless 'friendship'. And then there are some who have been unable to understand, let alone support, the fact that I have finally set out in pursuit of the career I always wanted, at the point when most of my contemporaries are winding down into retirement. Sadly, another parting of the ways.

And it isn't easy to make new friends later in life when we can no longer make friends whilst waiting for our offspring at the school gate. And those of us who have retired or work at home no longer have the opportunity to turn work colleagues into friends.

I'm sure they serve a very useful function for some but I for one am not quite ready for the likes of Lunch Clubs for Seniors in the Community Centre! 

But I've come to realise that I'm one of the luckier ones!  I do have a few 'best buddies', true friends who, although they live hundreds of miles away, also live in my heart!

Please feel free to save and print this A4 300 dpi Friendship Quote
or maybe just 'Pin' it?

But loneliness and social isolation is rife amongst older people. 
The replacement of the extended family by the 'nuclear' model has played a large part in that. Times change, sometimes, but not always, for the better.

One day my son commented that there are a lot of 'old people' in Abergavenny! I hadn't noticed it but once he mentioned it, I started to realise how right he was. As I cross the park on my way to the shops, I often overtake older people, out for their daily breath of fresh air. Normally I'm in such a hurry that I bowl past them at a rate of knots. 

But if I can spare the time, I've begun stopping for a chat and I'm finding that it's very much appreciated.

It's easy to get into conversation, surrounded as we are by the beautiful trees in the park as well as the mountains, there's always something to talk about. And of course, we Brits are always ready to talk about the weather! It means I have to walk much more slowly than usual but I think it's worth it to see how pleased people are to have someone to chat with, even if it's only for five minutes or so.

I'm not pretending that these brief, chance encounters are a replacement for a lasting friendship - our paths may never cross again. But they are better than nothing, by a long way!

When I'm busy working, I can go for several days without speaking to anyone. As an introvert with work that I enjoy, that doesn't bother me too much. I also have family who are at the other end of a phone/email/text message - and of course, I have friends online!

Some of the older people I meet on my way to the shops have nobody to talk to and very little to fill their days. But they do love to talk about their family or their former job or career, if only there's someone to really listen!

So please, if you possibly can, spare a little time for the older generation - you might find it more rewarding than you ever imagined!

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