Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Long Friendship is Good for the World AND Us

I've been off-line so long, this is more testing, testing.

I think I will simply write about friendships, and marriages, that last at least 50 years. They are different from shortterm ones.

If you plant a tree and plan to stay there, you nurture the tree, water it, do what it needs. In 2011, I had a pecan tree in the back yard only a few years old, and we were in drought, and I watered it. But the crown died, and I had it cut down.  Its companion, a burr oak, survived and is thriving. The weather has been much better. But I watered it, too. It was more stubborn or resilient. Anyway, it survived.

Today, the lower limbs were trimmed so the man mowing my lawn isn't life-threatened every time he tries to mow around it. He told me it wouldn't hurt the tree, but  I had to Google, and read up.  It decreased the canopy in a rainy year, and he and Google assured me the canopy will grow--but not the height of the remaining branches from the ground.

I want this tree to make it, and eventually shade the back deck, and someday I want a kid to be able to grab a limb and climb that tree. Texas has a fair number of trees. Most aren't good for climbing.

I won't be here then. But the tree will, if I can take care of it. And some kid may climb it.

A year ago, I went to the 50th wedding anniversary of friends whose wedding I had attended. And that is special. I was there when they started out, and celebrated their 50 years.

They, and a few other friends, have kept in touch for 50 years or more, and those friendships are more mellow than everyday.  Don't know what it would be like if we visited regularly during the year, but I really don't think any of us have time for that. Some people have a group, which is good to remember. I'm not a group person, so I have these friends.

At church recently, a delightful couple in their nineties organized a renewal of vows and celebration of their 70th anniversary. They provided cake. and yes, THEY provided. Their daughter wanted something more elaborate.

I enjoy the American Life Series of PBR. Recently, I caught part of a segment on long-lived marriage, and the man said, "If you have periods, after years, where you really don't like each other and have nothing to say, keep going. Your marriage is normal, and can continue." I laughed when the moderator said this was the most honest look at marriage he had ever heard. And he agreed. You CAN get past the grumble part.

The couples with the 50 and 70 year anniversaries have learned unconditional acceptance, and the joy it can bring with longevity.

I never was married long enough. Dad died after 27 years. My parents were heading that way. I remember my grandparents' 50th.

These long friendships and marriages? They matter to civilization, I think.

My three college friends and I did NOT have a casual, social relationship. It was visceral when it began. Maybe that is why the roots are so deep. We saw each other through  life-altering events, some exciting , some scary some fun.

Maybe not all friends our age have  had that advantage, because whatever it was then, it grew roots, and is a joy today.

But I see so many lifelong friends with grey hair.  Don't think most of our politics are the same, or our other friends, our work, our passions. 

We have found a way at our ages, to be friends, no matter what.

Does it take age?

No, it doesn't. And younger lives should have friends from a lot more places in life.

Continuity is important, though.

We can change all we want so long as we mean it when we say we're in this life together, as unscathed as possible.

That's pretty hopeful.