An interesting thing happens when you become an adult. When you turn that magic age of 18 and graduate, you leave the orderly structure of age-based classes and friendships. All of a sudden, you’re chucked into a world where people of all ages and backgrounds interact. And then a whole new horizon appears.
My husband and I moved to Arizona soon after marrying. There, we came to know an amazing gentleman named Joe. He was in his seventies, but didn’t act old. He didn’t live in the past, or regale us with tales of how good life was in the 1950’s. He didn’t even talk about his health, although it wasn’t good. And he didn’t give advice, at least never on purpose.
But, boy, could he carry a fascinating conversation. He was a good listener, but better yet, he knew just when to talk. Our visits were never one-sided, or just between ‘the boys.’ He drew me into the conversation too, making both of us feel intelligent and important, although we were seriously wet behind the ears. He was smart, funny, interesting, and wise, and always seemed thrilled to see us. (How could we resist that?)
After many years of interaction, I learned something from the way Joe treated everybody. Your name and even the stupid things you do are safe with a true friend. There’s no gossip, back-stabbing, or malice – they give you the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what you look like, or what you know. A friend doesn't manipulate, but brings out the best in others.
If you’ve got a friend like that, you are rich. Life has zing.
After many, many conversations, it was a very sad day when we lost Joe.
And yet, since then, my husband and I have been able to enjoy many new friendships with fascinating people of all ages and backgrounds. I relish all these friendships, including the ones with my children, my siblings and parents, and my husband’s awesome family. And I especially love being true friends with my husband.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is I feel rich. Thank you, my awesome friends, for putting up with me and for putting the zing in my life!
And, Joe, I know you’re floating out there somewhere with a stack of haloes on your head. (I custom-ordered the big one with flashing lights.) Thank you isn’t a strong enough word, but still, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Someday, when I grow up, I want to be just like you.