August 12, 2011

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

Of course, God is our oldest and best friend

Cynthia DewesIt’s a funny thing about friends. You can make new ones any old time, often by chance. And you don’t need to share all interests with them. Many of my friends are different from me in age, race, sex and whatever other variety of human condition there is. We don’t always share the same opinions, either.

“Old” friends are the best, they say. I don’t know about that, but I do know that loyalty over the years is one of the most endearing traits that a friend can have. I’m fortunate to retain many friends that I went to grade and high school with for 13 years, although, sadly, many of them are passing now.

Frank, whom I have mentioned before, is one of those old friends, and talk about different! He was one of nine kids in a rather abusive home, and I was a

well-loved and cared-for only child. As a result, although he’s very smart, he never got much of a good example or an education. So he became a long-distance truck driver with all the fabled drinking and womanizing that went with the job.

He married and divorced about three times, with live-in girlfriends in between. He had several children, many of whom do not speak to him any more. He is extremely interested in justice, believe it or not, and is generous, kind and attentive to those he deems worthy. He is also funny, insightful and very competent when he likes what he is doing.

The main reason that we are still pals is nostalgia about our shared childhood. Our moms were good friends and we went to the same school. We were in the same class, but he flunked a grade and entered that gray area of kids who are looked down upon by teachers and peers. Still, we could—and still do—get together and compare notes about the funny things that happened, the idiocy of certain persons or the unfairness of the social order at the time.

One dear friend whom I met in middle age is a great reader, and we love to share and discuss books we are reading. When we meet for lunch or some event, we always carry along a bag we have saved full of books to trade, and articles we think the other will be interested in. We also love to cook, and we compare notes about new hints or recipes that we have tried.

Another close friend, younger than I, was a neighbor with whom I became acquainted before she and her husband had children, and when ours were in middle school. By the time she had her boy and girl, we were like surrogate grandparents to them and, in fact, used to attend their Grandparents’ Day events at school because their real ones lived far away. To this day, we are “family,” down to those kids’ children, whose birthday parties we look forward to.

My two college roommates have been lifelong treasured friends to me, even though they were not fond of each other and were absolutely opposite kinds of people. One is a down-to-earth horticultural expert who keeps my yard presentable in lovely plants, while the other was a witty English major with whom I shared countless laughs and literary talk.

Church friends are important to me, including the special woman who helped steer me into the Catholic Church after we graduated from the same high school.

Like God, our best friend of all, she continues to understand my spiritual searching.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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