No...that was not a cheap shot at my parents.....it was simply a fact. My father has always been somewhat of an opportunistic friend, meaning that his friendships were based on whatever was going on in his life at the time. Usually his friendships were cultivated through business deals or his job. When one of those ended....then the friendship usually was not far behind. Only in the last decade has my dad realized that he who dies with friends dies much richer than he who dies with money. He has since tried to recultivate some of the friendships that it is not too late to recultivate.
Mom on the other hand was never big on close friendships. She was an acquaintance type of person. She was possibly more comfortable in this type of "friendship" as this is what she knew early on. Growing up as a farm kid in a small rural town....her friendships were school related and when school or school activities weren't present....then neither were her friends. There was no such thing as play dates or parents carting their kids to friends houses back then.....especially if you were a farm kid and your friends were town kids. Mom always maintained fond memories of her school friends, but never did she have a desire to reunite or correspond with them. This became her pattern until my brother and I were grown.
My mother always had a unique way of viewing her life. To her, life was not one long adventure, but more it was a lifetime cut into pieces.....chapters. Each chapter held new experiences, places and people....but the people were most always held at arms length and although a cordial relationship might develop.....she never allowed them to be more than acquaintances. Looking back.....I am sure Mom used this as a way to protect herself and also to keep her privacy. Mom was an intensely private person. When a chapter ended and she moved on....then the place, the experiences and the people were all left behind. She never looked back and she never tried to reunite with anyone. Looking back....it was strange but at the time....it was just Mom.
Not until my brother and I had graduated and started our own lives and Mom went back to work did she start cultivating friends. Perhaps it was because she worked daily with people that shared her passion (she was a psych nurse) or maybe people wouldn't allow her to be just mere acquaintances, but soon Mom had friends.....good friends. The last chapter in Mom's life was full of people who loved my mother and whom my mother loved in return. This was quite evident at her funeral as person after person came to me and told me what a wonderful friend my mother had been to them. It was one of those smiling through the tears moments as I knew my mother had left this earth rich with friends.
Myself....I have always had friends. It took me a lot of years to learn to be a friend.....because that was a lesson I had never been taught, but there were those that overlooked my lack of friend etiquette and accepted me for who I was. It probably didn't hurt that my first true friend was my cousin and since we only saw each other on occasions.....my lack of friend know-how could be more easily accepted.
As time went on and I began to learn the give and take of friendship (i.e. you have to be one to have one) my circle of friends began to grow. As a kid....I was usually close to one in particular and the friendship (at least in my head) was somewhat exclusive. It wasn't until I was in junior high that I learned the art of group friendships or "cliques" if you will. There were five or six of us and we traveled in a heard for lack of a better word. This clique lasted for about three years and then as happens when you grow up and start growing apart.....the clique disbanded and while we still were friendly....our friendships traveled in different directions.
It was high school when the notion of truly best friends became a part of my world. It was here that I started cultivating friendships that still remain strong and in tact today. Perhaps my mother realized that she had missed a lot not having close friends during her life, so when it came to my friends....Mom basically had an open door policy. She was also usually available to drive us (pre-drivers ed) to the skating rink, the movies and the mall. Looking back.....Mom was a pretty awesome mom and at times I think my mom was as big a draw to my friends as being friends with me was.
As time has passed, I have maintained many of my high school friendships and added to them along the way. Like anyone....some friends are more prevalent in your life at different times and of course, people and friendships do tend to change. Luckily (through no fault of my own) I have managed to hold onto and continue to make many wonderful friends throughout the years. Granted though....I have friendship maintaining opportunities that Mom didn't have. Social networking is very much responsible for the rekindling of many of my friendships of years passed and it has brought me closer to many others. Facebook alone has managed to transcend distance and time and put me in touch with my third grade bestie and helped me to get to know those that I didn't really get the chance to know in high school. Perhaps if Mom had such at tool at her fingertips....she too might have rekindled the past....but then again....maybe not.
So as I was drifting off last night....counting my blessings, thinking about how short life is (especially when you are looking at it from my vantage point) and thinking of all the friends I have but don't see and enjoy nearly enough....I couldn't help but think how this really needs to change. Perhaps there needs to be more dinners out, game nights or even some road trips to keep the friendship fires burning. In this busy world we live in.....these things won't happen if not purposefully gone after and organized and maybe I need to be the one to set the plans in motion.
This morning my head is full of delicious possibilities....adventures....and fun. We are never too old to have fun....RIGHT?! So my friends...and yes....you know who you are.....don't be surprised if you hear from me in the near future. Life is too short not to dance, laugh and share jello shots with your friends. So be prepared....cause you just might be hearing from me.....very soon!