Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Forever Friends

Chin hairs? Upper lip hairs? If you’re a woman and older, you know that these are just one of many banes as we age. I saw a post on Facebook once that said, “A true friend is one who will pluck your chin hairs for you when you’re in the hospital.” Oh, how true!

Years ago, a psychologist told me, “A true friend speaks the truth even when you know it may hurt.”  She was referring to my comment about my friend, Debbie.

Debbie, who went home to Jesus at age fifty, was one of the sweetest people I knew. She passed from this life because of complications due to obesity. We headed up out church singles’ group together.  All she wanted was to get married and have children. Sadly, it never happened for her.

Debbie was beautiful inside and out, but her extreme weight kept men from being interested in her. In her yearning for love, she fell repeatedly for men who did not, and would not, reciprocate. She spun wild tales of someone’s imagined interest in her, and I found it difficult to tell her the truth that, “He’s just being nice. He has no romantic interest in you.” In fact, only once did I try to tell her that, and she sobbed so broken-heartedly, I retracted my words.

“That’s not being a true friend,” the psychologist told me. Gulp! What do you consider to be a true friend?  How do we define friendship? Speaking truth isn’t always wise. Some things are better left unsaid when the overall result is more harm than good. But I should have been truthful with Debbie and perhaps she would have set her sights on someone more attainable. She always went for the drop dead, gorgeous guys. 

I feel privileged to have friends I've known since grade school and my teenage years. I have a special friend I’ve known since my early twenties. She was my pastor’s wife first, but gradually became a dear friend. This friend is eleven years older than me, and in the twilight of her years, is suffering many debilitating health issues. One is Parkinson’s. Her whole body shakes and jerks continually despite medication.

She fell and broke a hip over the weekend. One of my daughters, Denise, and I went to visit her in the hospital. Still slightly groggy, she told the nurse as I entered her room, “This is my forever friend. She will take my teeth out and brush and clean them, won’t you, Leola?”

Gulp! Although I have dentures, I have a slight aversion to such things. Have I said I have a slight aversion to such things? I did this for my elderly mother, changed her Depends, cleaned her vomit, etc. Have I said I have a slight aversion to such things?

So what did I do? I took my friend’s teeth and cleaned them, then helped her put them back in her mouth. Why? Because it’s what friends do. It is a demonstration of love.

As a friend, please love me enough to give me an honest evaluation of my writing. Oh, and pluck my upper lip hairs if I'm in the hospital. I'll try to clean my teeth myself.  Said with a chuckle. 

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