Monday, 10 September 2012

The threads of life

I am back from a few days seeing my family, helping to mind grandchildren, and also attending the birthday celebration of a friend from way way back, when we were both newly-weds. It was such a pleasant occasion. This friend and I were married to men who were colleagues, and both our marriages broke up, on the initiatives of our husbands, who went off and had affairs with other women. Off they went, to find themselves, for more excitement, for true love and better sex, leaving behind some rather shattered pieces of humanity, in great need of emotional superglue, and tender loving care from our other nearests, and from our friends.

It always seemed to me that this friend had a very rough time. She was left with the care of their two daughters, and, from what I know, she had a rather hard time financially, having had to buy out her husband's share of the house progressively over a number of years. Naturally she wound up having to pay considerably more than if there had been an immediate settlement. We have lived in different cities for many years now, and at the time when I was moving to be with Dr P, she moved back to where I'd lived, to be near her sister. We have kept up our contact and our friendship, and now we have both celebrated each other's significant birthdays. And we share some common ethnic heritage, too.

I remember well the last time we met as couples. They came to our house for dinner, and I can't remember what I cooked. Her husband was lavish in his praise of my cooking and made unfavourable comparisons. I wanted to hit him. Surely you can compliment someone without simultaneously denigrating your own wife! At this birthday lunch, I said to another guest that I thought she had had a very rough deal, and she totally agreed.

It is not always possible to maintain friendships, even very dear ones. The passage of time, the physical distances, the responsibilities of families, and then the increasing time devoted to one's own progeny and then the grandchildren make it so much harder to keep in touch with friends, despite the very real affection we've had for each other. Paths diverge.

Maintaining friendship requires both effort and opportunity, and naturally one pays more attention to those who are closest physically as well as emotionally.  The long-term friendships are precious, as those friends made in this latest part of my life. They are people I love, and who truly care for me, now, in this life rather than in the life of yore. They are reciprocal.  Once the ties of marriage are severed, in this latest case by death, one must realise that truly you are alone and that the giving and receiving of friendship is vital and essential. As are the ties of family. But those ties are generational, and of a different ilk, and the relative needs and supports differ. In the meantime, minds and hearts continue to meet, and to reach out to each other.


VioletSky said...

It does take a lot of work to keep a friendship alive. And both sides should participate in initiating contact. So often our lives get busy - or we assume others are too busy - that it is easy to let it all slip away. Then we are truly alone.

Frogdancer said...

Well said, persiflage.

Elephant's Child said...

And so say all of us. I have also found that caring for a family member who is unwell can sever ties of friendship - just when one needs them most.
And it is also true in my case that some of my family are people I would not choose to spend any time with except for the blood link.

Relatively Retiring said...

Very true that it takes a lot of effort to maintain friendships. After my husband's death I felt very strongly that I needed to reclaim what I could of my former life, and it has been a great joy to revive some very old friendships.