Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Friends. Where would we be without them?

I have just spent the afternoon with an old friend in her eighties who is virtually snowed into her house. We have looked at, read and discussed the poetry of Jen Hadfield, the recent winner of the TS Eliot poetry prize over a cup of china tea. Her cat has sat with us and listened to it all - he is a most erudite cat (or would be if he could talk). We have passed a very pleasant couple of hours on a pretty miserable day.
Aristotle saw a friend as a single soul dwelling in two bodies - in other words a soul mate. If we actually find a real soul-mate in life I would say we are very lucky indeed. But friends - there is a different matter. It is a brave person who says he doesn't need friends; even the word "friendless" brings a chill to my bones.
I certainly would not have liked to have been without mine. Some have been constant throughout my life; some have come and gone; some have stayed to be a very important part of my life.
My oldest friend, J, I made on my first day at infant school. She always says that I took her to school but I don't remember that (isn't memory selective?). What I do remember is that she had very shiny black hair with a blue hair ribbon which kept slipping off until our very wise infant teacher secured it with a hair grip. I remember sharing the infant toys with her, especially the farm animals. We would kneel on the classroom floor and set up a wonderful farm (nothing's changed except now it is for real!) and I remember her utmost belief in Santa Claus long after the rest of us in class had sussed it was your Dad. Now we live at opposite ends of the country, yet we share long phone calls about gardening, about memories, about our families - and we manage to meet up once a year.
Moving around the country has meant friends left behind but even a letter at Christmas in with the card means that we have never really lost contact. Some friends have fallen by the wayside but then I suppose some friends, like some marriages, don't survive separation.
Moving up here twenty years ago meant making new friends - but now after those twenty years of shared experience they have become old friends. My oldest friend, B, gave me such support at a very difficult stage of my life, when I was nursing a dying husband. Just one single act during that time marked her out as a true friend, when she sent her husband to the door with a box full of ready-cooked meals for my freezer. It was an act of kindness I have never forgotten.
So thank you again, B, if you are reading this - and love too.
We are all getting old together now. Not so much Derby and Joan, more a lot of Joans together, sharing coffee, tea, worry, happiness, laughs - the list of sharing with friends is endless.
So thanks M (we don't meet so often now but when we do we can talk all afternoon, taking up where we left off a month ago and never running out of things to say). And thanks Gl, who I see much more often and who keeps me up to date on bird sightings and who is interested in so many different things that she regularly sparks off a topic to put on my blog. Thanks F and R, who live in The Netherlands and who we only see occasionally but who e mail regularly and keep in touch. And thanks J, who is a "real" poet and who never tires of reading my poetic efforts and giving me constructive criticism on them
My friends have stuck by me through thick and thin and I don't know what I would do without them. As Walt Whitman said, "I no doubt deserve my enemies but I don't believe I deserve my friends."
So here is a toast to Friendship - raise your glasses to all those wonderful people who form such an important part of your life and never let you down.

23 comments:

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I like what Jinksy says in her comment in your post without the text, just below!

Your post brought tears to my eyes, as I think of all my friends: the 'soul-mates', and friends of greater or lesser degrees of closeness, but all without whom life would be greyer.

Yes - I raise my glass in a toast to my friends, old and new! And now to all you dear new bloggy friends too ...

Reader Wil said...

Here's to great and real friends!!!
Thank you so much for sharing this and also for the information about James Cook, a truly great man, whom the Aborigines even mention respectfully.

Poet in Residence said...

It's a wonderful way to spend a winter's day snowed-in with friends, perhaps with a pot of tea or a bottle of something stronger. And you are right when you say: Where would we be without them?
Your tale reminds me of the snowy time I was somehwere along the Calderdale Way, somewhere above Halifax. A policeman, braving the elements, advised us to seek shelter in a pub nearby. We were all, walkers, runners, strangers all, soon on by the roaring fire and on the best of terms as we waited for the storm to abate. Friends, you could say.

Jenn Jilks said...

Lovely thoughts. We, too, look after frail neighbours.

I am so happy with the way the Internet has lessened the distance between friends.

Heather said...

I'm sure your friends value you as much as you value them, and how wonderful to have had one of them since infant school. Sadly I have lost touch with all my school friends, but still think of them sometimes. Good friends are very precious.

HelenMHunt said...

True friends really are worth the world.

Coastcard said...

And when we are snowed in and cannot see our local friends, what a particular privilege to have our blogging community!

Sepiru Chris said...

I too raise my glass with Raph to you, to your post which raises such excellent sentiments, and to friends...

"To friends, near and far, seen and unseen, 'e-' and corporeal... ...without them, where would be?"

*glug*

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Such a lovely post. It reminded me of my childhood best friend. Like your friend, J., we both shared a firm and solid belief in Santa. She even told me she saw the reindeer land on her roof!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Raph - the truth is I pressed the wrong button and couldn't get rid of the title from my blog so had to leave it there (my skills are pretty poor on the computer) but now that Jinksy said that I think perhaps it is a good thing - because that is why life would be like (empty) without friends.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I'll drink to that reader wil.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It can be pretty bleak above Halifax Poet - don't know the area all that well but have heard my son talk about an area called Withins I think. Yes - all together under adverse conditions brings out the Dunkirk spirit I think.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Jenn - agree about the internet - I communicate with long distance friends much more often.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Glad you agree about friends, Heather.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Helen and Coastcard - yes I think we have all added to our lives with our blogging friends.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Sepiru Chris - nice of you to visit again. Yes - save me a drop out of that glass - I'll drink to friends anyday.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Pamela - I love that reindeer on the roof - I suppose when you are young you can see anything if you wish hard enough.

jinksy said...

Ah!At last! The substance behind the title! All the better for having waited for it, m'dear...Whoever first wrote 'A friend in need is a friend indeed' sure said a mouthful. I raise my cup of coffe to all who toasted along with RGN above.

Sepiru Chris said...

Hello Dream Weaver,

I left the info behind on the blog, but I thought I should come by; just pop over and your questions are answered.

Tschuess,
Chris

Chere said...

Oh Weaver, Thank you so for reminding me how much I love my friends. In this world of hurry up and go we sometime forget to how special they truly are. My days would be so empty without them.

Men seem to wrap themselves up in their jobs and forget to form meanful friendships. My husband tells me that he does not need friends he has me. That really scares me. I encourage him to have other interest beside his business and me.

I know that no matter what happens that I have a group of friends who will be there. Someone who will walk with me, talk, laugh, cry and embrace the day.

Janice Thomson said...

I'll drink to that too Wil!
Good post Weaver.

patteran said...

How your friends must value you for the loyalty and affection that you communicate here.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks to all bloggy friends!