There is nothing that can be said about friendship that hasn’t been said a million times over. Therefore, the words I write on the subject this week will not be an attempt to add any new words about friends, but rather to use a few of the old words to convey what a blessing they are.
I have never selected my friends based on any certain criteria. One does not have to look and dress as I do (mercy no), believe everything the way I do (I have learned a lot from listening to the ideas of others), and certainly they don’t have to be as disorganized as I (few people are) for me to call them my friend. Neither do my friends have to be my age. For as long as I can remember my range of friends have varied from their 90s all the way down to children just beginning to learn what friendship is all about.
I have never lived in a place where I did not find friends. And as the years have rolled by each year means new friends are added. When Ruble and I married the only apprehension I had about moving away from the community where I had grown up was the fact that I would not know anyone. I knew everyone in my community, and everyone knew me. I loved that. Our community at that time truly was like a big front porch. We visited, we helped each other, and we felt like we were all related, if not by blood then by heart strings.
I did not even tell my sweet mama that I had a concern about meeting and making friends in this place that I would be moving. Being apprehensive did not stop me from wanting to make the move because I wanted to be with Ruble. He was not only my husband but my best friend. That was true from the beginning and true at the end of our earthly life together.
Little did I know that I would have nothing to fear about making new friends. Our landlady became my first friend after I moved away from familiar territory. She was the wife of a deceased Air Force Colonel. I knew there were certain lines that were not crossed by officers and NCOs, but off base we had a friendship that meant so very much to us for as long as she lived. Ruble and I lived in a furnished apartment above what had been a carriage house back in the day. It was located directly behind her house; a beautiful, impressive Spanish style home. She ran an antique shop in Montgomery and our apartment was furnished with the “extras” from her shop that did not sell. Nothing in any of our rooms really matched but we had some very outstanding pieces of “odds and ends.”
Using the rule that not everyone had to think just like me (Heaven forbid) to be my friend, soon I had made a circle of friends that seemed like family. When we moved, there were “going away” get-togethers for us, gifts, tears that flowed freely, and good memories to last a lifetime.
That experience led me to the conclusion that we can all get along if we try. Trying means leaving certain topics alone if discussing them is going to cause tempers to flair and feelings to harden and never soften. Sometimes we really make simple things so complicated. Making and keeping friends is not complicated. It just takes abiding by the Golden Rule as much as possible and sometimes it means simply keeping our mouths shut. I have to remind myself of that a lot!
LaVale Mills is Publisher Emeritus of The Red Bay News.