I was driving between line camps the other Monday, when a song on the radio peeled away a lot of years. As Willie Nelson sang about Old Friends, the first name that came to mind was my best friend from school days. “I should call Betty,” I said aloud to myself.
Elizabeth became Betty sometime between first grade and high school, but that’s the only thing about our friendship that ever changed. Being a shy country kid, I didn’t have much in common with my classmates when I began school in Seneca, Nebraska. I can’t even recall now if there were other girls in my class at the beginning. Surely there were, but during those first years in a strange environment, Betty was the one that mattered. We spent hours in one another’s homes, and as adults have kept in touch, no matter who moved where. We still call and share news about our grown kids and grandkids, and when we get together it’s like we just saw one another an hour ago. Here’s the really weird part of the story. I had hardly gotten in my house that Monday when Betty called.
The trend kept going. Later that week, Delores called to share news about another mutual old friend. I had emails from Sandy and Gloria, and a letter from a different Betty. All this has me reviewing my blessings for having so many long-time friends, and making myself a list of some others to touch base with.
See, the thing about old friends is this. You don’t need to pretend to be fine when you aren’t because they’d call you on anything that seemed false. They remember your mistakes, and are kind enough not to mention them unless you do, and then you laugh about those things together. They’ve been along for the ride with all its ups and downs. They remind you of your strengths and can recall the same events and people from the past, which becomes more important as we get older.
I have a lot of newer friends, and some that have been in and out of my life over the years as we moved around and lost touch for a time. I value each one, and enjoy spending time with them, but most of them don’t know who Raymond was or feel the loss since his death last year. They may not know that my nickname in high school was Johnnie, or that my children’s father called me Lucky. (When asked why, he answered, “Well, you have me, don’t you?”)
My first husband’s family called me Lindy. He has been gone for decades, but some still call me Lindy, and I like having that connection which began so long ago. It’s a link to someone I used to be, and have almost forgotten. When I hear that name, those years come back in living color, right down to the clothes we wore and the cars we drove. We didn’t realize we were making memories, nor do we realize we are making new ones daily.
Have a good week, remember some by-gone days, and take time to look up some old friends. The chances to do that are disappearing under our noses.